Teens, Culture, And Wannabe Thugs

No male wants to be thought of as weak. There’s something deeply ingrained in our DNA that makes the idea of a weak man something of an anathema. While people may define “strong male” differently, it’s almost universal that a weak male is an object of scorn or pity.


Normally, this isn’t an issue. We have millions of examples of strong, decent people floating around for emulation. Whether we’re talking about Jethro Gibbs from NCIS or Audie Murphy from real life, there are a plethora of examples to be found.

Unfortunately, some kids get a hold of the wrong example, and it causes problems.

The teen was in the court of Butler County Juvenile Judge Ronald Craft on charges of felonious assault and aggravated robbery for allegedly shooting a teen during a robbery in the parking lot of the Fairfield Twp. Walmart last month.

The teen victim in that Jan. 20 shooting is recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg, but two victims in unrelated Middletown and Ross Twp. incidents are dead. All three shootings involve elements that law enforcement officials say they are seeing create a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, mix for teenagers more frequently: Guns, drugs and social media.

“(We have) kids that grow up and become teenagers and they become wannabes and they get on their Facebook pages, their Twitter accounts and they think they are real tough and they think they are gangsters and they have guns and they have drugs. This is why we are here today,” said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones during a Wednesday news conference for one of these incidents, during which a Ross High School student was shot and killed in what authorities have called a robbery gone bad.

“People don’t accidentally get shot very often, but when you have people who are inexperienced, but they think they are tough and they have guns and they bring guns and they think they are gangsters, usually somebody dies.”

Two recent incidents show the deadly possibilities. Stephan Cotter, 22, of Loveland, was shot and killed on Dec. 8 in the 2200 block of Pearl Street in Middletown, allegedly after 16-year-old Paul Dillon Craft set up a drug deal for the sale of Xanax and marijuana but instead shot Cotter during an altercation caused by a robbery attempt, according to police.

Middletown Detective Jon Hoover said Craft told police several versions of what happened, but he eventually confessed that he met up with Cotter and another man with the intent to purchase marijuana and Xanax, but instead, he pulled out a gun and attempted to rob Cotter. Hoover said Craft admitted to shooting Cotter but said he did not mean to do it.

Craft said he purchased the gun from a drug user on Crawford Street then threw it in the river after the shooting, according to police.


All the gun laws in the world won’t prevent stuff like this.

What’s happened is that people have somehow gotten it into their heads that criminals are worthy objects of emulation. Teens who want to be seen as tough don’t seem content with lifting weights in the school gym and playing football or wrestling these days. Oh, some do, don’t get me wrong. But still, others seem to have embraced this idea that to be tough, to be a real man, you somehow need to act like a gangster.

When I talk about needing to find the causes of violent behavior, this is a prime example. Regulating guns doesn’t work because it’s already illegal for a 16-year-old to possess a firearm. What we need to do is address this teenage cultural mentality that this kind of behavior is somehow acceptable, that this is what strength represents.

It’s not, but until we create a paradigm shift amongst these parts of the population, I’m afraid we’ll see more of this senseless nonsense resulting in people being killed.

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