Editorial

EDITORIAL: Not All Youth Who Commit Carjacking are Bad — Some May Simply Feel Hopeless

As our front-page story for this week indicates, local police and other city officials realize that the District and its surrounding communities face a serious problem: a troubling rise in the number of carjackings.

In many instances, the alleged perpetrators of these crimes are young adults – mostly young men.

And while we cannot say with certainty if the majority of these youth are Black or not, we don’t really find that color matters. Even if the data bears out, we still remain unconvinced that this is an issue about race.

Our concern is that our youth are living in a time where more and more young men are finding themselves lost in a swirling storm of hopelessness. As one songwriter put it, “like a ship without a sail.”

Of course, Black youth in D.C. often face more formidable obstacles than their white counterparts. But we’ve known that for a very long time.

Black youth face higher levels of unemployment, food insecurity, homelessness and acts of violence or potential acts of violence which they face not only on the streets but in their homes.

If anything, the last year that all Americans have experienced, with shutdowns, sickness and death – each related to the coronavirus health pandemic – may have resulted in a perfect storm.

But what is the solution? Certainly, not adding more young bodies to the prison industrial complex.

Children, boys in particular, have a lot of energy. And they need ways to release that youthful energy through positive and healthy means.

We hear that some of these youths have taken to carjacking because they are seeking thrills. To that excuse, we wonder what kinds of lessons and examples they are receiving from home. However, we cannot allow the blame to be placed solely on parents who they themselves are struggling to maintain a modicum of positive life and existence for their families.

With the days of spring upon us, and summer to come in short order, we wonder what the city has planned for our youth. Will there be summer jobs? Will parks and recreation centers reopen so that children can have positive ways to release their frustrations and energy as well as make a few dollars to put into their pockets?

The vast majority of young people are not evil – they’re not criminals in training.

They just want to fit in, they want to feel like they matter and that we’re listening to them. They want to know that we care.

Are we listening?

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