A week after a gang-related shooting at a shopping mall, Nashville’s police chief called violence among area youth a disease that needs immediate treatment, reports The Tennessean. “The facts have to be known so we can identify the symptoms and deal with the disease,” said Chief Ronal Serpas. “Violence is a disease – insidious, malignant disease. We’ve got to find a way to have adults take the stand and say: ‘I’m not going to let my kid go to the mall with a gun in their pocket.’ But more importantly, I’m not going to be so obtuse and out of touch with my son that I didn’t even know that he had a gun in his pocket.”
Serpas recited a litany of newly crunched numbers to about 100 people who participated in a Nonviolence Summit last Saturday. Among them: This year, 77 Nashville teens 14-17, have been arrested 93 times for robbery. Ninety percent of them had been in police custody before. Nine of the juveniles already had been arrested for murder, and 22 had prior criminal records for carrying weapons illegally. At the conference, participants brainstormed about factors that may contribute to the spike of violence among juveniles and ways to cure the problem. Some pointed to a lack of education in schools and communities about gangs, absence of programs that keep teens engaged, and glorification of a criminal lifestyle in movies and music.