- Published on Thursday, 30 July 2009 10:34
- Written by Bill Broderick
- Hits: 1685
When we read or listen to the news on some nights, it's easy to believe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Violence, corruption, malfeasance of every kind, not to mention wars, rumors of wars, and the current world economic crisis, do not add to anyone's sense of security and well-being. Particularly disturbing are the reports of violence and murder among children and youth.
What is often lost in the shuffle is that much of the news is propagated not because of its newsworthiness but because of its shock value. The evidence shows that young people are generally no more crime - and violence - prone today than they have ever been.
Sure, we can point to prominent cases, such as the kidnapping and murder of three-year old James Bulger in Liverpool, England, by two 10-year old boys in February 1993, the murder of Reena Virk in Victoria by fellow teenagers in November 1997, the killing of Stefanie Rengel by DB and MT on New Years day 2008 and many other incidents in the same vein.
But, generally speaking, the evidence seems to show that people are gradually getting better. The fact that so-called civilized countries no longer torture people to death for criminal activity or condone torture as part of punishment, and that even the death penalty by any means is slowly going out of fashion, tells me that we are gradually becoming more humane in our approach to crime and punishment. But there's more.
Recently, Toronto Sun columnist Mark Bonokowski wrote about the swarming assault on his daughter Erin in the friendly city of Belleville in April 2008 by about a dozen teenagers. Two girls were subsequently charged and convicted of the assault. The attack never made it onto the police blotter or into the newspapers until Bonokowski himself decided to write about it.
The attack was brutal. Erin was thrown to the ground, then kicked repeatedly about the head and face. There was no reason for the attack, no robbery or other motive. It was just for kicks.
What distinguishes this case from many others was that over the months after the attack, Erin's wounds healed, she pulled herself together, and she wrote an extraordinary letter to the judge, in which she offered to befriend to the girl who led the attack. "I would like to believe," Erin wrote, "that, given the chance, she will be willing to talk to me and perhaps, with the help of the system and a little help from me, her life can be turned around."
The judge accepted Erin's offer and incorporated it into the girl's sentence.
Erin probably doesn't think of herself as a humanist, but she most certainly is.
The basic goodness of human nature strikes again. As Bonokowski wrote at the conclusion of his third article, "Hope reigns."