Tag Archives: Social breakdown

“Violence Is Spinning Out of Control”

Richmond crime scene. Photo credit: WWBT NBC 12.

by Jon Baliles

On Wednesday, CBS6 Crime Insider Jon Burkett gave an interview to John Reid on WRVA about the rising and scary number of shootings happening all over the region, most of them in the city.

He noted that as of Wednesday morning there had been 12 shootings in the previous 7 days, and 10 just in the previous 5 days, with two murders.

He talks about how a lot of it is driven by feuds on social media and then gives a scary quote: “Credit the surgeons at VCU — if we didn’t have them, we’d be in really big trouble,” while also noting that their job in the ER is the “equivalent to a combat surgeon.”

He goes into more detail and talks about one woman who was interviewed whose brother had been murdered and she wondered why he was even out on the street – he had 13 serious felonies on his record. Burkett also said he was threatened by someone in a passing car while he was conducting an interview following a shooting. Does it feel like we are turning or have turned things around? Continue reading

When There Are No Consequences for Bad Behavior, the Consequence Is Bad Behavior

Brookland Middle School. Photo credit: Forrest Shelor / 8News

by James A. Bacon

At some public schools across the state last year, educators relaxed standards for everything from classroom attendance to cell phone usage out of a sense that children who had spent a year doing remote learning needed to ease back into learning at school. Adults effectively relinquished control, and anarchy followed. (See “No Grades, No Discipline, No Structure, No Learning.”) School officials say they learned their lesson, and they are trying to reestablish order in the new school year.

But educators are finding that it’s not easy putting the genie back in the bottle.

As WRIC reports, school divisions across Central Virginia are addressing internal security policies and procedures “amid a rash of in-school violence in local academic buildings.”

Brookland Middle School in Henrico County was put on “lock and teach” status — school and classroom doors are locked while teaching continues — after a 7th-grade student was hospitalized from a locker-room stabbing. Several students at Highland Springs High School, also in Henrico, had to be treated for pepper spray after a School Resource Officer used the chemical to break up a fight.

“There is an enormity of threat, both inside and outside the school building,” Richmond school board member Jonathan Young said Tuesday. “In a year, we average something like 20,000 incidents. To be clear, not all of them materialize in a melee or all-in assault on a student. But too frequently, they do.” Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Special Societal Dysfunction Edition

Parents can’t be trusted. Childhood gender dysphoria diagnoses leaped 70% from 2020 to 2021. More than 40,000 children received the diagnosis nationally in 2021, up from 15,000 in 2017, reports Reuters, citing a Komodo Health Inc. analysis. The number of children on puberty blockers more than doubled between 2017 to 2021 to more than 5,000 — 1,390 cases added last year alone. Against this backdrop, Charlottesville City Schools has declared its opposition to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s transgender guidelines for public schools that would give parents the power to decide the names, pronouns, restrooms and locker rooms their children use.

Can you say, “lower standards”? Ninety-two percent of Virginia’s public high school students graduated in 2022. That’s a tad higher than the pre-COVID graduation rate of 91.5 for the Class of 2019 — even though high school students in 2022 suffered massive learning loss during the pandemic and consistently under-performed the Class of 2019 students in their Standards of Learning test scores.

No, wait, don’t kill all the lawyers. We still need some. Facing high caseloads and a “dwindling staff,” reports the News & Advance, the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney has made the decision not to participate in the prosecution of some misdemeanors. Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison said the number of attorneys is 27% shy of what it should be. If police want to prosecute trespassing, drunk in public, altered license plates, or driving with a suspended license as standalone charges, they will have to handle the cases themselves. Unfortunately, the police department is suffering a labor shortage, too — with 28 vacancies reported in the fall of 2021. Continue reading

Hoax Epidemic

Scene outside of Charlottesville High School yesterday. Photo credit: Daily Progress

by James A. Bacon

In the latest sign of spreading social disorder, Virginia underwent a plague of school hoaxes yesterday. According to media reports, incidents included:

  • The Loudoun County sheriff’s office and Leesburg police were notified of acts of violence at Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County high schools. The reports were false.
  • In Arlington County, officers responded to a false report in a 911 call of a possible act of violence at Washington-Liberty High School.
  • The Culpeper County school system placed all schools on lockdown after a 911 caller reported an “active shooter.”
  • A 911 caller told the Charlottesville police that there was an active shooter at the Charlottesville High School. (Eleven days ago, Albemarle County police had responded to a threat to Western Albemarle High School made through social media.)
  • E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg was placed on lockdown after a 911 caller alerted authorities to someone potentially being inside the high school with a gun.

There’s nothing new about shooting and bomb hoaxes. What is new is the epidemic-like frequency with which they are occurring. Apparently, the practice of reporting violent incidents in school buildings has reached such a critical mass that it now has a name — swatting. Continue reading

There Is No Socially Engineered Solution to Drive-by Killings

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

In a protest that will never make the national news, an estimated 75 people turned out for a weekend march in Richmond to denounce the latest killing of a child in a drive-by shooting. Fifteen-year-old Tynashia Humphrey was walking to the store from her grandmother’s home near the infamous Gilpin Court housing project when she was struck by a stray bullet. “Stop the killing! Save the children!” the marchers chanted.

“My baby had only been 15 for two weeks,” Karen Cheatham, the girl’s grandmother and guardian, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “She was walking to the store. She was out of my hands for two hours. She was supposed to return back to me at 9 o’clock to get ready for school…. Hold on to your babies and hold on to them tight because tomorrow is not promised to none of us.”

The march, I fear, is totally in vain. I see no sign that city politicians, General Assembly legislators, or the media have any inkling of why killings have spiked in the past two years, much less what to do about them. As a society, we are flailing ineffectually as we continue to apply the same bromides that never contained much truth to begin with.

One of the politicians to attend the rally was Delegate Dolores McQuinn, D-Richmond. Her words are worth quoting at length because they mix the failed conventional wisdom with flashes of insight. Continue reading

Meanwhile, the Homicide Rate Keeps Climbing

From January to June this year, the seven largest localities of Hampton Roads have seen 115 homicides — up from 88 the same time last year, a 30% increase. Newport News and Hampton experienced a dip, but homicides have surged in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Suffolk, reports The Virginian-Pilot.


Where Does the Buck Stop?

by Jon Baliles

The rise in crime across the region and especially the City is naturally a cause of concern. A rise in crimes against deputies and other inmates in the Richmond Jail is flat-out disturbing. The Free Press went to the City Council Public Safety Committee meeting — that was attended only by Councilwoman Reva Trammell — who discussed the issue with Sheriff Antoinette Irving.

“Just since last Friday, July 22, according to information provided to The Free Press, a female deputy was punched in the face, three inmates suffered serious stab wounds and two inmates had to be revived after overdosing on illegal drugs.”

That followed another “savage attack on a female deputy July 7 that had left the woman with a broken jaw and other injuries.” Continue reading

Is D.C.’s Loss Virginia’s Gain?

Boarded up store in Washington, D.C.’s chi chi Georgetown district. Photo credit: Washingtonian

by Bruce Majors

Mayor Muriel Bowser — elected to a third term in a June 21 primary where only 27% of registered voters voted, and only 14% voted for her — is lamenting the bus loads of illegal immigrants that Texas politicians are shipping to D.C. Apparently DC homeless shelters are full.

Maybe she should be happy though?

Walking along M Street NW from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in West End, past the Four Seasons in Georgetown, to the Francis Scott Key bridge that takes one to Arlington, Virginia, was usually a pleasant stroll through one of DC’s most upscale shopping districts.

But if you take this walk today, one thing you will notice is that every fourth or fifth storefront is closed, for lease, papered over, or boarded up.

When the city was still mask-mandated and locked down – and other towns and cities were on fire, marred by rioting, or occupied by “autonomous zones” – this might have seemed normal. D.C. isn’t locked down anymore. Yet Georgetown and other areas remain surprisingly vacated.

D.C. is shrinking. Continue reading

Let’s Hope This Kid Isn’t Going Back to School Next year

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days.
Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick
     –Gus Edwards and Will D. Cobb (1907)

Virginia schools don’t use hickory sticks to impart discipline anymore, but they do have jail. And that’s where 18-year-old Elijah Schneider is heading after assaulting a fellow student at Strasburg High School.

Schneider pleaded guilty to assault and battery, possession of a weapon on school property, and use of profane language over an airway in a plea deal with the Shenandoah County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to six months in jail with time suspended.

Here is the account of the incident provided by Northern Virginia Daily: Continue reading

Crime, Asians, and “Whiteness”

Source: Crime in Virginia 2021

by James A. Bacon

In his classic treatise on race in America, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell advanced the argument that African-Americans inherited a cultural propensity to violence from the rural Southern, White-dominated culture in which they were immersed. When Blacks migrated to northern cities to escape Jim Crow and pursue jobs in the booming manufacturing centers, they brought that undesirable proclivity with them. So did the hillbillies of Appalachia, says Sowell. Locals looked down upon both groups with scorn and prejudice.

Southern Whites and African-Americans, traditionally at odds with one another, are far more alike than they commonly recognize. I am reminded of this every time I watch football, an enjoyable but indisputably violent sport, on television. I see a lot of Black football players and a lot of White football players. I rarely see a single Hispanic or Asian on the field, even though those two groups now comprise a quarter of the U.S. population.

Sadly, we can see this cultural brothers-by-a-different-mother phenomenon in the Virginia crime statistics. Yes, as many observers point out, Blacks commit a disproportionate number of homicides and aggravated assaults. But criminal behavior is rampant in Virginia’s White population, too. Though drowned out in all the discussion of systemic racism and White privilege, there is a large White underclass in Virginia in which broken families, substance abuse, and criminal behavior are widespread. Whites commit a majority of violent crimes in Virginia. Continue reading

The Mental Mismatches of Modern Society

by James A. Bacon

In his book, The Story of the Human Body, Daniel E. Lieberman, chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, recounts how the human body evolved over six million years from its rain forest-dwelling ancestors in adaptation to changing evolutionary pressures like climate change, and then explores how human bodies are maladapted for contemporary life. Modern man has seen the rise of numerous chronic diseases that once were thought to be the inevitable result of aging but increasingly are regarded as the product of post-industrial lifestyles from insufficient exercise and excess consumption of carbohydrates (heart disease and diabetes) to the wearing of socks and shoes (fungal infections and plantar fasciitis) and squinting for endless hours at books and computer screens (myopia).

In the few hunter-gatherer societies remaining on the planet, Lieberman contends, once people have made it through the gauntlet of early childhood, they routinely reach their 70s, and do so without the scourges of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other afflictions of modern society. Our medical establishment, he suggests, treats symptoms. We must turn our attention to underlying causes.

I find Lieberman’s case highly persuasive. But, then, I’ve always been fascinated by human evolution, and I’ve always believed that the emotional substrate of human behavior has been heavily influenced by our Stone Age, hunter-gatherer ancestry. If I could wish one thing of Lieberman, it would be for him to entitle his next book The Story of the Human Mind, and devote it to showing how contemporary lifestyles are maladapted to our psyches, which evolved to maximize evolutionary fitness in bands of hunter-gatherers. Continue reading

Toxic Brew

by Chris Saxman

Okay. Buckle up. I am sharing with you several graphics that should lead, hopefully, to some serious discussions about the toxic blend of violence in movies, marijuana, smart phones and social media use in our youth — especially young men. First this article from the WSJ on how the use of widely available pornography can impact the development of teenage brains. Maybe rewire neural pathways? Yikes.

Look at the time lines of these (smart phone use, violence in movies, marijuana use – focus on the year 2010) and now add in the intensity/addiction of social media use.

Continue reading

Richmond Politicos Getting Serious About Crime

by James A. Bacon

Virginia recorded its highest murder rate in two decades in 2021, reports WTVR. Other than noting that homicides hit the murder mark of 90, however, the article reported no specifics.

I don’t know how the Richmond television station came by those particular data points. The Virginia State Police has not yet published its 2021 Crime in Virginia report, although it will be made public any day. I expect that key bottom-line findings are circulating in the Youngkin administration, which has made crime fighting a top priority.

“We have a crisis in Virginia right now. We’ve got to go to work right now. We are absolutely going to make Virginia safe again,” WTVR quoted Governor Glenn Youngkin as saying.

The Governor has launched a violent crime task force. Part of the solution, he said, is to increase police pay, presumably to reverse the exodus of officers from local police forces.

WTVR also quoted Attorney General Jason Miyares as pledging to use the authority of his office to get violent repeat offenders off the street. In an initiative he has dubbed Project Ceasefire, he plans to bring back parts of the federal Project Exile initiative, which sentenced criminals convicted of using illegal firearms to a minimum of five years in prison. He also plans to create a fund to invest in crime reduction strategies, training, and equipment for police and other organizations. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Murder and Mayhem Update

Little Chicago. Three people were killed and one critically injured in a shooting in Portsmouth this morning, reports The Virginian-Pilot. No details are yet available. The incident follows a day of mayhem in which four people were shot, one fatally, last week.

Refund the police. Also from The Virginian-Pilot: “Norfolk is set to receive $1 million from the Virginia state budget to help stop gun violence in the city, while Portsmouth will get $500,000. A total of $8 million is in the budget for gun violence prevention, of which $1.5 million is earmarked for ‘localities with disproportionate firearm-related homicides.’ Norfolk and Portsmouth are receiving the money ‘to support crime intervention and prevention through community engagement,’ according to budget documents.”

What’s good for Virginia is good for the country. Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are pushing the “Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence” to bring to the federal level changes the General Assembly enacted in 2020, reports the Virginia Mercury. The legislation would impose background checks for private gun sales, require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms, limit handgun purchases to one per month, and boost penalties for leaving guns accessible to children.


Discipline Meltdown in Prince William Schools

Prince William County School Board Chairman Babur B. Lateef

by James A. Bacon

The adults are losing control of Prince William County public schools. Fighting and alcohol/drug-related violations increased 20% during the first three quarters of the current school year compared to the same period in the pre-COVID year of 2019-20.

In the third quarter alone, middle and high schools recorded 515 alcohol/drug-related violations, up from 344 in the second quarter. The division recorded 722 fights, up from 463 the previous quarter, according to a presentation to the schools’ Safe Schools Advisory Committee obtained by InsideNoVa.

Prince William teachers are raising an alarm that social issues stemming from school closures, coupled with staffing shortages in schools, are making the job of educating students more difficult, InsideNoVa says.

What’s interesting about this article is that school officials (1) are acknowledging they are having huge disciplinary issues; but (2) are blaming the rising level of fighting and drug abuse on the shift from in-school to at-home learning during the COVID epidemic. No one quoted by InsideNoVa expressed concern with the impact of the “restorative justice” paradigm for dealing with disciplinary issues. Indeed, school officials are doubling down on the “progressive” prescription for disorder in schools. Continue reading