The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 18, 1997 · Page 7
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 7

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 18, 1997
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Page 7
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THE SAUNA JOURNAL VIOLENCE SUNDAY, MAY 18, 1997 A7 V SALINA CONCERNS Salina teens attempt to address violence issue Prevalence of guns makes fights reach dangerous levels By DAVID CLOUSTON The Sfilina Journal Some Salina teen-agers think the threat of gang violence has been overblown. Others think some concern is justified and cite the ease with which harsh words can escalate to violence. Bill, a high-school student who asked that his real name not be used, said some of his peers and adults are too quick to dismiss the problem. "Guys get in a fight and one says, 'Hey, I've got a gun. Step off,' " Bill said. "They've got something that makes them feel like they've got power over someone else, and they want to show it." Race plays a role in such disturbances, Bill said, and often drugs are involved. Nick Charvat, a junior at Salina South High School, said re- "A lot of kids have just got the attitude that they don't like different races, and you're not going to change their mind." Tyler Charvat Salina South High School junior ports of crimes involving youths and weapons make teens more careful about what they say and do socially. But, he added, "I think it's just intimidation. I think it may be a '(gang) wannabe' problem." Charvat is one of several Salina teens involved in Increase the Peace, a group aimed at preventing youth violence. His cousin, Tyler Charvat, also a junior at South High and a member of the group, said teens brag about having handguns. "I think race has quite a bit to do with it," Tyler Charvat said. "A lot of kids have just got the attitude that they don't like different races, and you're not going to change their mind." The biggest troublemakers are youths who have dropped out of school, said Ben Sims, a junior at South High and a member of Increase the Peace. Although they're concerned about youth violence, the students interviewed said they disagree with recent efforts to ban items such as T-shirts and wallet chains because they might be considered gang apparel. Sims, referring to a controversy at Salina Central High School over a ban on shirts with the logo of the rock band 311, said principals "are being cautious about everything, or they're worried they'll get into trouble." He said wallet chains and T-shirts are regarded merely as statements about style and fashion, and are no more threatening to others than an unusual haircut. Hassles lead to club's closing Owner wanted to get out because of lack of respect from patrons By DAVID CLOUSTON The Salina Journal Anthony Spencer had his fill of troublemaking customers and scuffles with law officers about the operation of his nightclub, Fastbreak, 1056 E. Pacific. He closed the club May 3 after being in business five years. The last straw, he said, came April 26 when three men came in and one slipped behind the unattended bar and tried to steal beer from the cooler. "Since people have been trying to take advantage of me and have been for a long time, I'm finished," said Spencer, 36. Salina Police Chief Jim Hill said Fastbreak was the site of "Since people have been trying to take advantage of me and have been for a long time, I'm finished." Anthony Spencer operator of Fastbreak "an extraordinary amount of problems." "We've gone there hundreds of times in the last few years," Hill said. "There've been fights, disturbances, officers assaulted." On March 22, a shooting in the parking lot of the club followed an argument between two groups of people. The victim, who was shot in the abdomen, died a few days later. A Wichita man was arrested. Spencer said he tried to deal with those making trouble, but often law officers arrived and simply told people to leave. Later, the troublemakers came back. Hill said officers have had problems arresting people because victims refuse to cooperate. At one point, Saline County Attorney Julie McKenna was studying the number of police calls to Fastbreak to determine whether to file a nuisance complaint against the business. Spencer said he wanted to close on his own terms, and didn't want authorities telling him to shut Jiis doors. Spencer said he plans to pursue a sales job, and he looks forward to spending more time with his family. V TEEN CRIME National concern Federal government takes 1 st step into teen crime By GERARD SHIELDS Scripps Howard News Service WASHINGTON — Three Knoxville family members are gunned down by strangers as they return home from a Jehovah's Witnesses conference. A 78-year- old Denver woman is kidnapped and left to die in the cold. A son guns down family members in Lincoln, Calif. In addition to being brutal crimes committed across the nation over the last year, these events have one other thing in common: Teenagers are charged with the crimes. Last week, the House passed a bill that will make it easier to try violent teens as adults in federal court. Republicans supporting the measure also included $1.5 billion in federal grants to entice states who haven't done so to pass similar laws. Aside from being the federal government's first step into the nation's juvenile crime problem, the popular measure is expected to focus attention on a question still plaguing judges, cops, parents and politicians across the nation: What should be done about violent teen criminals? Democratic critics of the federal bill claim that it is nothing more than political muscle flexing to allow politicians to brag that they'i'e getting tough on juvenile crime. „» •*••<«**«•*_«..-.. More money for elementary school crime prevention programs and probation services for teens would do more to curb the problem, Democrats say. But Republicans call the bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill McCollum, R- Fla., a national message to teenagers that if they commit heinous crimes in America, they will be treated like vicious criminals. "Our current legal system does not adequately punish juveniles," said Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., a member of the House Subcommittee on Crime. "Teenagers account for the largest portion of violent crime. It is not just in our major metropolitan cities, it is in our own small rural communities as well." National and state statistics support Buyer's claims. A Kids Count survey recently showed that violent teen crime in America jumped 70 percent between 1985 and 1994 while overall crime dropped to its lowest rate in 22 years. In America's heartland, Warrick County Juvenile Court Judge Don Hendrickson of Indiana has watched the parade of teen delinquents become more ruthless over the last 20 years. Hendrickson blames the rise in one-parent families and the economic need for both parents to work hi other families for the increase in juvenile violence. "The family doesn't have time to devote to family traditions," Hendrickson said. At the nearby Evansville Res- cue Mission's Youth Care Facility, Bob Tinner receives kids that judges like Hendrickson sentence for rehabilitation. "Most of them are just kids who've had neglect and bad parenting," said Tinner, who supervises about 20 kids shipped by the courts. "Anytime you leave kids unsupervised with decisions to make for a long period of time, there is going to be trouble." Prosecutors agree that many of the teenagers are as much victims as they are perpetrators. But once a teenager commits a murder, rape or string of violent assaults and robberies, society has a responsibility to take them off the streets for good, prosecutors say. "These crimes are devastating to the victim whether the person is 16 years old or an adult," said Betsy McClure, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. "And that's whaf we're supposed to be about." Last September, under order from the federal government, the Kentucky legislature created a' new Department of Juvenile Justice to take responsibility for deal- • ing with juvenile crime from the traditional state social service counselors. Texas and Florida have done the ' same, creating special departments for juvenile justice, led by corrections officials who please voters by promising to take off the kid gloves. 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