Local teens respond to teen murders


Several recent high-profile murders in town have community youth talking.

I talked to a group of seniors at Hillside New Tech High, on their views on this predicament.

My main question…. why?

(Left to Right) Devin Polk, Justin Williams, Maya Finoh, Cairo Livingston and Annika Robinson-Hudspeth debate the topic of teen crime. Photo by Mahdiyah Al-askari

Durham teens (left to right) Devin Polk, Justin Williams, Maya Finoh, Cairo Livingston and Annika Robinson-Hudspeth debate the topic of teen crime. (Staff photo by Mahdiyah Al-askari

According to N.C. Division of Juvenile Justice, which is under the N.C. Department of Public Safety, show that out of a total population of 24,164 teens within Durham in 2011; from the ages 10-17, 992 of them were involved in some kind of crime.

Crimes are classified as violent, serious or minor.  In 2011, the most recent numbers, 16 teens in Durham were involved in violent crimes.

“It’s scary to hear that our generation is that dangerous,” said Justin Williams.

Teen violence is a fact in America.

From shootings in Chicago to the shooting in Newtown, Conn. to the recent shooting near South Point Mall, when we hear about youth violent crime, it always seems far away — until it hits close.

Williams said that he thinks teens need more to occupy their time.

“When we are alone with idle minds, our first resort is violence,” he said.

Williams said that when people are alone their minds wander and they can think gruesome thoughts.

There is a saying that I was taught — “Idle time is the devil’s playground.”

Most people know that Jeffrey Dahmer is an infamous American serial killer and sex offender. In a documentary, Dahmer’s mother said when he was younger he would sit alone and isolate himself.

She said that he used to play by himself and it was later found that he had dissected animals in his backyard.

Of course, this isn’t every teen, but you never know what the human mind can come up with.

Sometimes media can tamper with a young mind and have it thinking of anything.

Maya Finoh said that the blame falls on the media when it comes to teens and violence.

In video games and even some cartoons, murder and violence is showcased as funny or okay. Having those subliminal messages entering our brains maybe triggering an emotion within us we didn’t know we had.

I’ve met people who said that when they get upset, they go kill people on their video games to “calm” their nerves.

Should violent video games be the “woosah” of relaxation and are these also causes of most teen crimes?

Some teens feel that it is not just the fault of the youths involved in this kind of crime, but in some cases, also authority figures’ fault like parents.

Devin Polk said the lack of parental guidance might influence a kid’s decisions.

“Before I would do something wrong, just having my mother’s voice there to guide me allows me to know what to and what not to do,” he said.

During a class of mine, Civics and Economics, we were learning about the death penalty in America for juveniles. The topic discussed included a story about a man who influenced a pre-teen to murder.

The teen was almost sentenced to death until they realized that he was under the influence of an authority figure.

Some teens think a large part of the problem is that too many teens are influenced heavily by other factors. Whether movies, video games or peers, violence is everywhere.

“People follow the crowd nowadays,” said Cairo Livingston. “Individual thinking is becoming extinct.”

There could be many causes to why youth wind up on the crime list — peer pressure, societal pressure, video games and media included.

Either way, whatever the reasons, it doesn’t make what is going on okay.

Mahdiyah is a YO:Durham Intern


One thought on “Local teens respond to teen murders

  1. Joshua Howell says:

    Murder has been a part of our society for so long that people believe that the only way to solve anything…that’s nothing but pure bullcrap. We look for the reasons for why all this violence but we seem to come up short every time. You have teenagers fighting each other to the death like it’s the damn jungle. And some of them think that they are cool if they can carry a gun and shoot someone who beat them up in a fight. No, that makes the gun carrier a bitch who can’t accept the fact that they aren’t untouchable even when someone has to beat it into them. Sometimes, I wonder why I even have faith in humanity to correct their mistakes when I know that even some of us teens are too ignorant to care. Those people that they shoot have families and if they want to shoot someone put them in a war, and let’s see if they big and bad as they say they are. I know that I myself am not perfect but sometimes a boy can wonder, why put all these grown men who have families and who aren’t wreckless, why not put this teens who like pointing guns at other teens in the middle of a battle? That maybe excessive but as more violent crimes involving teens occur…..What can we do when they act like they don’t want to listen to voices of reason or even when the scared straight programs fail, what can you do?

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