Steffanie Rivers

*If you ever thought youth of today have lost the ability to goal-set, organize and carry out a plan you don’t have to look any further than the flash mobs that have been creating havock across the country.

What started out as choreographed group dance in public places has turned into thugs gone wild robbing convenient stores and assaulting innocent people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I remember doing stupid stuff as part of a group when I was a teen that I never would have done alone. And because everyone has to pass through the teenage years to get to adulthood I’m sure – on some scale – we all can identify with the immature decision-making that wins the tug-of-war over common sense. These flash mobs have discovered their strength in numbers, and that’s a good thing. But they have ignored the fact that their actions are serious criminal offenses that could ruin promising future endeavors, and that’s a bad thing.

While some people might consider the actions of these flash mobs to be not that serious, others will use their actions as another reason to stereotype Black youth and support legislation that calls for the legal system to lock them up and throw away the key. You don’t have to look far to find the latter. Earlier this month Pennsylvania juvenile court judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. Ciavarella cleared the way for two for-profit juvenile detention centers to be built in his jurisdiction. Then he sent more than 4,000 youth offenders to lockup – some of them as young as 10 – to insure the facilities would be used. Now the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has to overturn Ciavarellas’s convictions between 2003 and 2008.

Ciavarella isn’t the first crooked judge and he won’t be the last. We can either allow our children to be at the mercy of people like the former judge and some trigger-happy police officers or we can do our best to make sure they never see the inside of a court room as a criminal defendant. If it’s attention that these flash mobsters seek they have achieved their goal. But they should realize there are better more positive ways to show strength in numbers and impact their communities.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist. Send your comments, questions and appearance inquiries to Steffanie at [email protected].