Rise In Attacks On The Homeless Called “A Teen Thing”


A recent spate of attacks against the homeless in Cleveland reflects a national trend of reports of such assaults rising 65 percent between 2005 and 2006, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. More are expected during the summer. “Shelters are closed, homeless people are more visible, and kids are out of school,” explains Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “We fully expect there’ll be an increase in attacks in the coming months.” Some 68 percent of attacks on the homeless nationally are committed by 13- through 19-year-olds, almost all males. “It’s definitely a teen thing,” Stoops says. “Do young people hate homeless people any more than anybody else? I don’t think so. But I do think the Internet has a broader influence with young people from all economic classes. That’s why you find suburban kids taking part in this new sport.”

Stoops believes the Web site Bumfights.com and its imitators are fueling the rise in attacks against the homeless. Bumfights videos feature homeless people fighting, pulling out their teeth, jumping off buildings, and performing other stunts. Producers paid them — with alcohol and small amounts of cash to appear on tape. “We think there’s a direct correlation,” Stoops said. “And we know of four documented instances where there was a direct correlation between young people watching the Bumfights and then going out and attacking homeless people.”

Link: http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/118008218734110.xml&coll=2

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