Morgan Zalot, Philly, February 9, 2012
A spate of seemingly random and violent attacks by juveniles — including savage beatings of senior citizens and an unprovoked attack on a college student in a Center City cab — has again forced Philadelphia to look in the mirror and ask why our kids are filled with such rage.
Vietnam veteran Edward Schaefer, 64, was walking last month along 5th Street in Olney, a few blocks from his home, when a group of young thugs jumped him, pummeling him hard enough to fracture his face.
“There’s information we got from a friend of those kids that [showed] the whole thing was planned. They were going to ‘go f — – somebody up,’ “ a police supervisor with knowledge of the case told the Daily News. “It’s a sad thing these a — holes picked on an elderly war veteran.”
Two suspects in the case were sentenced to the maximum of four years in a juvenile detention facility yesterday.
Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University professor who studies adolescent behavior, attributed the attacks to the teens’ upbringing — or lack thereof.
“Individuals who behave that way typically have been very poorly raised,” he said. “Most individuals learn through the course of being socialized by their parents to control their aggressive impulses and to not hurt individuals.”
Experts agree that, more often than not, violent juveniles have not only grown up surrounded by violence, but also tend to have a distinct feeling of hopelessness about the future.
Brian Goldman, 21, was in a cab stopped at a red light at a crowded Center City intersection on Jan. 28 when a group of up to 10 teens stormed the car and punched him through the window.
“At that point, I couldn’t fight back, nor did I want to,” he told the Daily News last month. “I was convinced these kids had a knife on them, or some weapon, so I jogged up the block.”
Goldman left the scene, and the 53-year-old cab driver managed to scare the teens away with a tire iron.
Damian Jackson, 17, an Overbrook High senior, said that some teens “do this for fun, just randomly pick and attack people.”
“It’s pointless,” said Jackson, who plans to study engineering in college. “They’re making it worse for us teenagers who are being normal.”
After another summer marked by random teen-mob violence, [Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for public safety Everett] Gillison said that the city tried to pressure the good kids to stand up to the bad ones by putting the message out through Facebook, the city’s youth commission and places teens congregate.