15 Tough Questions About the Heinous Acts of Young People

In the wake of the Parkland, FL school shootings, the details of which I have not studied, and about which I will not comment any further, here are some tough questions for America’s consideration–and no, they’re not about gun control, either for or against.  As I said, these are not suggestions; they are questions for consideration and discussion. 
These questions will make you think–really think–and at a scope and depth that is uncommon in our national culture–even though many of us are generally quite capable of most of it.  Some of these questions will surely spawn some ideas, and some of those might be great, while others may be terrible.  The goal here, however, is not just to rush to and argue some preferred conclusions, but to be able to rule things in or out based on Reality-Based Thinking—thinking that is deliberately honest, rational, and responsible.

These questions are in no particular order.  Feel free to comment below if you like.
  1. If a teenager commits a mass murder or some other heinous act, what level of responsibility do the parents share in that crime? 0%? 100%? Something in between? And should it be a case-by-case judgment call, or a hard-and-fast rule?
  2. We are required by law to buy auto insurance to meet our financial responsibility should our driving errors or negligence result in a loss to someone else. Should parents be similarly responsible for errors and negligence in parenting?
  3. If parents knew they could be prosecuted for the felonies of their children (up to some certain age—to be determined), would this serve as a viable incentive to train the kids better than some kids get trained now?
  4. If we should decide that the parents are not responsible to any degree for the felonious acts of their kids (up to some certain age—to be determined), then who is? The kid alone? The school and teachers who have helped to educate the kid so far? The church (if any)? The kid’s bad-influencing siblings or friends (if any)? The bad influence of TV and other audio/visual media? Inherited traits? Genetic mutations/accidents? Chance?  Nobody/Nothing?
  5. What would be the result of deliberately teaching basic moral values, such as the so-called Golden Rule and the Non-Aggression Principle, in public schools at every grade level? Would this stem the tide of violent kids? If so, how much, and at what cost?  Could this be done on the basis of good citizenship, without needing to be particularly religious in nature, or is it rather the case that the totality of the subject of morality is religious in nature, and has no proper place in civic and educational discussion outside of religion?
  6. What should rightly constitute a “warning sign” that a child may be turning into a violent individual? And what should be done about it? And by whom?  Is it realistic to expect that some policy could be conceived by which no such child would ever again commit an act of violence? If not, then at what level of violence reduction do we consider ourselves to have adequately addressed this problem?
  7. Is the violence of young people actually on the rise or not? If so, then to what degree, and how do we know?
  8. Do we really understand the cause of such heinous crimes by youth?
  9. How much of what is done and what is proposed is actually hacking at the branches of the problem, rather than at the root?
  10. How is it—if it is true—that American schools in generations passed had very low violence without having armed guards and metal detectors and fences? What were we doing then that we are not doing now? Or what are we doing now that we were not doing then? What has changed, and can it be reversed?
  11. Who all benefits from the status quo on this issue?   Who all suffers?
  12. Who all would benefit from the various solutions or remedies that are being proposed for this issue?  Who all would suffer?
  13. Who all should have investigative rights in such cases?  Should it be the FBI only?  What about the state, county, and municipal governments involved?  If they all had primary access to the evidence, would we stand a better chance of getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in each case?
  14. What, if anything, can the churches do to reduce the number of violent youngsters?
  15. When young people have early run-ins with the police and/or school officials, is there anything about the way that these things are usually handled that actually has a counterproductive effect on the offender?
  16. Are we even willing to consider questions at this scope and depth, or would we rather stick to the standard talking points that don’t seem to be making anything better?  Or, if you’d like me to rephrase this question:  What kind of people are we?*

I’d love to hear your responses below.

*”What kind of people are we?” is a major theme in my recent novel, The Extraordinary Visit of Benjamin True:  The State of the Union as no one else would tell it.


I am the founder of the Society for Reality-Based Thinking.  (WebsiteFacebook page.)

I should release a new nonfiction title by the end of 2018:  Reality-Based Thinking:  How everyone–including you–can think better.




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