Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Solutions Needed To
Help Troubled Youth

Many around the world were shocked when they learned that a 25-year-old Japanese man allegedly used his truck to run down a group of people, jumped out of his vehicle and stabbed 18 people, killing seven in Tokyo.

In fact, knife attacks have become too familiar in Japan, once proud of its low crime rates. This past March, there was a random stabbing outside a train station in Tokyo and in January of this year, five people were hurt in another stabbing attack, reports Reuters.

Over in the United Kingdom, The Times did a feature article on teen-agers and how they deal with gangs and knife attacks, which are becoming too common. Just looking at someone the wrong way or telling another teen what town they are from can result in a “shanking” or stabbing.

The residents of the two countries believe they share a common link to the cause of crime: No one will listen to them.

The teen-agers in the United Kingdom claim that the police are accusatory towards them, especially towards black youths, and the Japanese believe that the family structure is deteriorating.

“Recently, peoples’ relationships have become strained,” 29-year-old Taishi Ikeda, of Japan, told Reuters in an interview. “There’s no-one to talk to when you’re troubled.”

Granted, there are many factors for the decline of society, such as economics, politics, trouble in the home, or just the individuals themselves. The list certainly goes on and on.

Trying to find a solution will not be easy for this problem. Knee-jerk reactions are not going to help, such as the one from Japan’s top government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura, who suggested tighter restrictions on obtaining survival knives, like the one allegedly used by the 25-year-old man.

Some people believed that tighter or even complete gun control in the United Kingdom and Japan would drastically reduced violent crime. However, it just made criminals seek out other weapons to harm or kill innocent citizens.

Either tougher new laws or enforcement of current laws can be productive in punishing criminals. However, more is needed to reach out to youths before they find their way into a dead end alley with a person holding a sharp instrument of death in his hand.

Politicians and police should make more of an effort to helping or improving social programs to keeping kids off the streets. They should also make sure that counselors are on hand to help discuss the problems that most young people, and even young adults, are facing.

But while we feel sorry for the terrible conditions that troubled youths and young adults find themselves in, it should not excuse any crimes that they commit. Wrong is wrong and it should be punished.

But there needs to be more recognition on the solutions to prevent these people from finding themselves in a hopeless situation.

Sure, there are many youths who do great good and go unnoticed. And it’s important to recognize the good deeds done by others to show us all that there is a lot of hope left in this world.

However, showing the negative is just as important, because it shows where we as a society and as a people are failing and how we need to address and fix these problems.