Parents: If Your Kid Has Been Part of a Flash Mob, Get It Together

Flash mobI don’t know what’s going on in Philadelphia, but there ain’t nothing brotherly or loving about it. First, the gang of dudes shot up the Septa bus a few weeks ago. Now it’s this flash mob madness. It’s a doggone shame when a city has to impose a curfew on an entire age bracket because of a few home training-less nuts. But that’s what’s going on — a mass movement of tweens and teenagers with misguided anger and energy hitting the streets to basically cause havoc.

At first, I was appalled and pissed off at the kids for being so doggone unruly and disrespectful. Terrorizing a whole area just because you can is trifling. But also trifling are the parents who can’t control their children, some of whom are as young as 11. Really? Your 11-year-old is out on the streets at night? That’s problem #1, before we even get to the part about them ripping and tearing through Philly or any other metropolis. 


Listen, I get that teenagers are hard to raise. As of October 10, I’ll officially have one on my hands myself. There’s a power struggle between their independence and the wise instruction of well-intentioned mothers and fathers. But if you have any part in the creation of a human being, your job is to parent. So parent already! Don’t slack. Don’t assume. And for crying out loud, don’t let your teenage son or daughter stay out all times of the night.

Too much freedom and not enough control from the people who are supposed to be checking them is one huge, glowering element to this whole nightmare.

Incidents of flash mob foolishness are spreading. There was an attack here in the D.C. area where a band of knuckleheads bumrushed a 7-Eleven. There was an attack I wrote about back in May, before I was even hip to this whole flash mob craze, that went down at a Dunkin' Donuts in New York City. There have been flare-ups in Cincinnati and the Bay Area, too.

I know y’all see the common thread in all of these videos and still shots just like I do, so let’s not pussyfoot around the obvious: most of the teens at the root of the hell-raising are black kids. Like we don’t already have enough trouble with folks of other races clutching their purses and crossing to the other side of the streets when an African-American strolls down the sidewalk. Now I don’t half blame them.

The real insult from them — even though flash mobbing isn’t exclusive to black, urban teenagers — is that less than 50 years ago, black people were taking to the streets to make a point about their civil rights, their liberties as U.S. citizens, and their stifled ability to pursue a personal slice of the American dream. There was rioting in LA and Detroit and New York and, yep, Philadelphia too. But it was purposeful, albeit still illegal. It was the mark of a frustrated and oppressed generation who had had enough.

I’m not saying it was right. But it drew attention to issues that had been stifling those respective communities until the social explosion of riots drew national attention to their demands.

But the only source of organization in this flash mob business is the social media it takes to coordinate sudden attacks. Who just takes to the streets with the sole purpose of causing trouble and anarchy? Find a cause to believe, create a more constructive way to vent your frustrations, or, at the very least, make this destruction and mayhem mean something. But just running into a store or barreling through the streets to pillage and beat people up is stupid.

The other part of the issue, one I see every single day here in the lovely District of Columbia, is that too many black parents just barely missed the cutoff for being their own children’s peers. When the kids are 15 and 17 and their mom is 32, it’s not hard to do the math — literally and figuratively. So kids who grow up in households with young parents often (I say often, not always) have more freedom to do whatever they want to do whenever they darn well want to do it.

That’s a longstanding issue that won’t be remedied overnight. But at the root of this terrorizing, there are parents who are slacking on their jobs, whether they’re young themselves or older and just not paying close enough attention. But they’ve got to do better. Heck, I’m keeping a closer eye on my kid. Just in case she thinks she should be so foolish.

What’s the solution for the growing occurrence of flash mobbing?

Image via C. G. P. Grey/Flickr

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