BOX 7-2Jason Bentley on the Rift Between the Generations
There are many factors that contribute to violence among young people. One of those factors is the breakdown of the relationship between the older and younger generations. The destruction of the family structure resulted in a loss of proper adult guidance for the youth. As things persisted, the rift between the generations grew farther apart, adding to the development of a hostile atmosphere in the community and violence amongst the youth.
Back in the 1980s “crack” hit the scene. Its impact was devastating to the communities it touched. It divided the community into three parts: those that sold the drugs, those that used the drugs, and those not included in the above. The division of the community was the catalyst for the rift that formed between the generations.
What the crack epidemic did was destroy the family structure. It snatched the father figure out of the home either by death, imprisonment, or it assassinated his respectability because he was strung out on crack. The same with the mother or any other authoritative figure in the household. Some families remained intact, but the majority were infected [affected] in some form or fashion.
Needless to say, without an authoritative figure in the home, guidance went out the window. Without proper guidance in the home, most young people turned to the streets for guidance. Some had guidance in the home but chose to ignore it.
Due to the lack of proper guidance young people started to take on the responsibilities of an adult before they were prepared for such a task. Most young people had to support themselves and sometimes their own families as well. Young females started having babies at young ages, becoming children without guidance trying to give guidance. Again, the father figure virtually nonexistent for various reasons. The destruction of the family structure caught in a continuing cycle.
Kids trying to be adults and most of them not respecting the adults in the community. The adults labeling every young person a hoodlum and distancing themselves from the youth. That’s where the rift comes into play. The communication between the generations stops or is ineffective. The children aren’t listening to the adults and the adults are not trying to hear what the youth has to say. Consequently, the relationship between the generations deteriorated.
So what you have is young people with a lack of respect and guidance and you have drugs. When you add guns to the equation, it equals violence. The violence produced the hostile atmosphere in the community. Fear gave the adults a legit excuse for distancing themselves from the youth and gave credence to the labeling of the youth. As a result the rift between the generations grew wider and wider and the scars of the community ran deeper and deeper.
The severance of the community, the destruction of the family structure, and the loss of proper guidance for the youth, all contributed to the breakdown of the relationship between the generations. The breakdown between the generations left the youth without moral, emotional, or practical support, guidance, direction, or discipline. All of these factors contributed to the development of violence amongst the youth.