Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Past Killings Expose Crisis in Redlands
Who are The Kids Killing Kids?

There's a time bomb ticking in the heart of America - John Rosemond

The Youth Violence Trilogy:
  • I Why are Kids Killing Kids?
  • II Who are the Kids Killing Kids?
  • III Teens in America: A Tribe Apart!

    San Bernardino County Sun

    Redlands comes in an enticing wrapper, but the package inside is decaying.

    That's how the chief of police sees the town, and he's peering through clear glasses without the faintest shade of rose.

    "We have an abundance of physically beautiful atributes and our institutions are a source of pride," Chief Jim Bueermann says. "We tend to think that, because we live in what looks like a nice place and we have all these assets, everything must be OK."

    But too many of our children are not healthy he says.

    Too many of our children are killers.

    These killers were not born drug-addicted. They didn't have to dodge bullets growing up in the gang-ravaged inner city.

    These are the children born of doctors and lawyers. Of school board members and bank executives.

    "This is not a socio-economic issue. It's not a race issue," Bueermann said, "We walk into any pre-school classroom and ask the teacher if there are kids in her class who will be going to jail and she'll be able to point out which ones."

  • On Tuesday, police arrested John Proctor "J.P." Remsen, 15, on suspicion of stabbing a 14-year-old classmate, Tristin Jensen, and putting his body in a sewer manhole. Detectives are trying to determine of the body was stripped of tissue before it was hidden. His parents, John and Susan Remsen, were arrested on weapons and explosives charges. John Remsen's bail was set at $1 million. Susan Remsen's was set at $500,000.
  • In November 1996, Zachary Moore, 16, stabbed his 14-year-old brother Jamie 44 times and left the body in the garage of the family's Ardmore Circle home in Redlands. He is serving a sentence of 27 years to life.
  • In January 1995, John Sirola Jr., 13, brought a shotgun to Sacred Heart, a private Redlands Catholic school, and shot his principal in the face. He killed himself, either purposely or by accident, when the gun went off while he was fleeing.
  • In December 1992, Aaron Mercado, the son of a school board member, and Ryan Bangs, both 17 at the time, took Redlands High School classmate Justin Hopper to a remote canyon and shot him because they believed he he was selling drugs on campus. They are serving life sentences.
  • In November 1987, 15-year-old Raymond W. Gray Jr. of Redlands strangled neighbor Bonnie Lynn Norcross, 8, and dumped her body in a trash bin. He then went to a friend's house to watch Monday Night Football. He was sentenced to 10 years in the California Youth Authority.

    The crimes are shocking for their heinousness, but also because of the families and neighborhoods from whence they sprung.

    "It is the fear that we all have," said Bob Hodges, superintendent of the Redlands Unified School District. "If we knew why, we'd all be doing something about it. We're all searching for that answer. But it's not a school question; it's a community and national question."

    Redlands still has a lower crime rate than a number of other cities in the country. Redlands had 1,543 type one crimes (rape, murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglar, theft, auto theft, and arson) in the first half of 1998. By comparison, Rialto had 3,938 type one crimes for all of 1997. San Bernardino had 8,523 for all of 1997.

    But the numbers are rising in communities like Redlands. Indeed, the federal government is grasping desperately for a way to stop violence originating with middle- and upper-class children living in the suburbs.

    President Clinton took notice in May when a 15-year-old Springfield, Ore., boy killed his parents then walked to his high shcool and opened fire in the school cafeteria, killing two schoolmates and wounding 22 others. The president directed the Department of Educaiton and the Department of Jsutice to develop an early warning guide to help "adults reach out to troubled children quickly and effectively."

    "Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools" was released Aug. 28 by Education Secretary Richard Riley and Attorney General Janet Reno.

    "We know from research that most children who become violent toward self or others feel rejected and psychologically victimized," the guide states.

    "In most cases, children exhibit aggressive behavior early in life, and if not provided support, will continue a progressive developmental pattern toward severe aggression or violence. However, research also shows that when children have a positive, meaningful connection to an adult - whether it be at home, in school or in the community - the potential for violence is reduced significantly."

    It goes on to list a number of warning signs. Among them: social withdrawal, excessive feelings of isolation and being alone, feelings of rejection, being a victim of violence, feelings of being picked on and persecuted, low school interest and academic performance, expression of violence in writing and drawings, uncontrolled anger, patterns of hitting and bullying.

    "You know what's ironic about this is that we have made so many attributions to poverty and inner-city neighborhoods that when it happens in a more affluent area like that (Redlands), people fail to realize that we are dealing with essentially the same kind of reasoning - the supposed dis (disrespect)," said Gerald Rowles, a consulting pyschologist and president of DADI, Dads Against the Divorce Industry.

    Take a kid who beats up another for scuffing his shiny new shoes while walking by, or maybe for making a comment he didn't like, Rowles said. "When you see your value in the shiny coat of a shoe, that's a pretty shallow value."

    Americans spend way too much time worrying about motivation and not enough time on consequences, Rowles said. "Bad behavior requires consequences regardless of motivation."

    In a lengthy essay Rowles posted on the DADI Web site, he explains in detail why he thinks kids are killing kids:
  • Many of today's boomer parents abused and continue to abuse substances and have lax attitudes toward their children's substance abuse.
  • Boomers are filled with anxiety about freedom, but not the traditional freedoms that made this country strong.

    "The freedom issue here is a kind of unbounded, narcissistic, self-indulgent fredom to pursue one's own hedonistic needs - the freedom to always feel good, absolved of personal responsibility." Rowles writes.

    "But just as Freud suggested, anxiety is a knock at the door, alerting us to the fact that something is awry. Too much freedom and self-indulgence was, in the past, followed by an appropriate sense of guilt. But in an age when God is dead, guilt is a politically incorrect notion that remains unexpressed in its essence, and experienced only in its vagueness as anxiety."

  • Dr. Benjamin Spock convinced several generations of parents to indulge their children, to allow them to grow without boundaries or punishment and to believe that childrearing is an intelectual challenge rather than a matter of common sense.

  • The escalation of child violence mirrors the massive exposure to TV, movies and music that treat casual and grotesque violence as a common and "cool" phenomenon.

    "The most important lessons of childhood is discipline: disciplined behavior, disciplined thought, and discipline based in the morality of right and wrong, good and bad, and clear rules for human interaction," Rowles writes.

    Redlands has plenty of teenagers who are high achievers, primed to make the city proud. But as it offers a bounty of cultural, religious, educational and athletic opportunitires, its leaders must pony up some offerings that will rope in the strays.

    Chief Bueermann will fly to Washington, D.C. and Aiken, S.C. this week to meet with experts involved in several offerings in Redlands' game plan.

    These include "Building a Generation," a program that won a $5000 grant from the Claifornia Healthy Cities Project. The program surveyed teenagers to find out what was lacking in their lives and attempts to provide it.

    Resolving Conflict Creatively attempts to nurture student interpersonal relationships.

    It is a peer counseling and mediation program running at Redlands High School, two of the middle schools and seven elementary schools. It is being phased in at other schools, the superintendent said.

    Peace Builders, which began at Victoria Elementary and has expanded to other capuses, teaches children how to deal with anger and conflicts and appreciate cultural differences.

    Risk-Focused Policing, a project involving all the communities in the eatern valley, identifies problem issues early and has police address them instead of reacting once crimes are committed.

    A graphics/mapping program police are using with the help of Environmental Systems Research Institute, a Redlands-based computer software company, is helping them learn which parts of town is seeing teen-type problems escalate.

    Risk factors like arrests for drugs, alcohol and illegal weapons, teen pregnancies, truancy and two-income households with children home alone can be plotted.

    The neighborhood where the Remsen family lives - an enclave of well-kept middle-class homes along tree-lined streets - is one of several neighborhoods showing high risk, Bueermann said.

    The Ardmore Circle area where Zachary Moore killed his brother is another.

    "As opposed to just using the shotgun approach, we want to find out how can we better leverage taxpayer dollars," Bueermann said.

    "The police department (takes) 50 percent of the city's general fund and I have an obligation to maximize that funding.

    "We are socialized as cops to be very reactive. But isn't it better to help prevent crimes?

    Aren't we better stewards of the public dollar when we serve as a community catalyst to prevent, to control crime before it occurs?"

    Comment, by Gerald Rowles Ph.D.:

    I am delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to this important article by Ms Yingst. She has made a significant contribution toward raising public awareness in this profoundly disturbing area of youth crime.

    My comments are not intended to criticize this valuable article, but rather to comment on the continuing isolation of our public leaders from the root realities of youth violence. From the "Building a Generation" to "Peace Builders", these programs uniquely and ubiquitously fail to address one issue - Parenting. Where are the parents, and what is lacking in the parenting equation? Instead, it appears that the schools and new bureaucratic entities are being phased in to add yet one more supplement to what was once the unique role of parents and families. I was particularly struck by the seemingly absurd notion that adults are consulting with teen-agers to find "what was lacking in their lives" ... but even more so by the notion "and attempts to provide it." If there is anything that this generation does not need is one more person or groups of people setting out to provide more to its children - that is, more of anything but responsible parents.

    And where are the Dads?

    Tick! Tick!

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