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The Richmond High Gang Rape: Who’s to Blame?

Fingers are being pointed in every direction — from parents, to school security, to video games.

by
Michele Catalano

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November 3, 2009 - 12:00 am
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Richmond, California, is a town with a lot of questions and no immediate answers following the brutal gang rape and beating of a 15-year-old girl at her homecoming dance — an attack watched by at least ten other people.

Richmond — located in the East Bay area of California, about 15 miles north of San Francisco — is a poverty-stricken industrial town that few outside of Northern California heard of until this week. It has been shoved into the spotlight, and the residents are angry over the public discussion of the incident. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Richmond High students want outsiders to stop calling them animals and savages. “We feel like they’re blaming the school,” an angry senior complained at a school board meeting. … “It wasn’t nobody’s fault,” she said. “People shouldn’t be pointing fingers.”

But somebody has to be at fault, starting with the young men who perpetrated the crime. The list of causes mentioned in the media coverage includes the school security staff, the school administration, the district, the local police, and the parents of the rapists and those who watched the attack.

Who can we not blame? From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Take the poverty-driven frustration of inner-city Richmond, a youth street culture that glorifies thugs and applauds degradation of women, and the desensitization of young men through violent video games, music and language, and you have a template for trouble.

The culprits are not video games and desensitization. It’s partly the fault of poverty and partly the fault of parents who have lost control of their kids and their own lives. It’s a school district that didn’t provide its students with the security and safety precautions necessary given the circumstances.

If all it took were violent video games or cartoons to make good kids go bad or to desensitize them to the point where they think brutally raping someone is acceptable behavior, this would happen every day in every town. There must be something else present, or specifically something not present, to make people behave like this.

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