Juvenile Delinquents

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Have you ever wanted to tell the kids in the back of the bus with the noisy boom box to turn it down? Have you ever done it? Why or why not?

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2001


Well can't say that I have had to do anything like that, as I have never lived in a city or had to use public transportation. Though it is good that you did speak up. That kind of behavior is just an example of the youth of today. Boy are we in trouble in twenty years. =)

Though on another topic I have no idea how you live your life. If I were that busy, under that much pressure I would have cracked a long time ago. I have to hand it to you, you are amazing in being able to take it all in stride and get it all done. Amazing. =)

Been reading your site for over a year now, just never commented before. You do a great job with it.


-- Anonymous, March 19, 2001

Teenagers - can't hardly live with em, but everybody gets upset when they start killing each other.

-- Anonymous, March 19, 2001

Oddly enough, I had an eerily similar experience last night on the subway on the way home from work. Three young women got on the train and immediately began acting like exceptionally obnoxious versions of Jennifer Lopez turned 50 decibels too high, snapping their fingers and verbally abusing an elderly woman who was staring at them.
I agree with you that people often avoid confrontation because it's less risky. There are already too many 'random' incidents of violence in New York City. There's an incredible risk involved with confrontation because you never know when one of these wanna-be gangsta types is going to pull out a box cutter and slash your face for 'disrespecting them' because you asked them to stop acting like farm animals in public. I don't need to encourage any more violence. If I see someone get physically assaulted, I'll do what I can, but if they're just annoying people, I find it best to leave them alone.

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2001

Jennifer Lopez harasses people on trains?

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2001

Rowdy loud teens are on the back of almost every bus here in Portland, especially during the summer. They act tough because they know almost anyone could kick their asses at any moment. A couple of years ago there were at least four teens at the back of my train finding out how loud they could yell FUCK. It only took one large guy to walk up to them to tell them to "watch their language" to make them shut up. That prompted lots of people to talk loudly about what stupid assholes these kids were and they were lucky that guy didn't splatter them all over the train because he looked REALLY pissed, etc. The teens only whispered to each other after that.

Here's another great public transport incident. The players were all adults so it's slightly off topic. A white guy who appeared to be not very smart bumped into a black guy while getting on the train. This happened right in front of me. The guy was kinda clutzy and was obviously half-asleep (it was early in the morning) and he give the other guy a mumbled "Sor" and sat down. The black guy took direct offense to this. He walked up to the guy and demanded an "real" apology. The guy apologized again, more distinctly but the black guy was still flustered. "I don't consider THAT to be a sincere apology," and proceeded to lecture this sleepy guy about how he should learn to be more considerate of others (while making everyone else on the train uncomfortable of course).

Before this guy could shut himself up, a large white guy stood up, walked behind flustered guy and tapped him on the shoulder. I thought I was about to see a "racial incident" take place right before my eyes. But I was wrong. The white guy said quietly with no aggression or fear, "Look. He apologized to you not once, but twice. We heard it. You heard it. What. Do. You. Want? Him to write you a letter?"

So, flustered guy's demeanor quickly changed from outraged to sympathetic. "Naw man. Naw. It's cool. Everything's cool, man." He didn't sound very sincere when he said that everything was cool though.

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2001

I agree with Rich that you have to be very careful when confronting loud kids. I never do it but the times I've seen it done, the confronter has always thought about the situation before taking action. I've never seen a confronter get in the face of the trouble maker (except for the one incident I mentioned which did look risky) confront them completely alone. If the kids turned physical, the confronter has always had a means of quick exit which the kids never have since they're trapped in the back. Also the confronter has always had the support of other annoyed passengers (other people complaining to each other). When the kids see several other annoyed young men looking at them instead of ignoring them, they realize they're outnumbered and they probably can't rely on their friends to "back them up" if things turn physical.

I've seen confrontations like this happen several times in the past fifteen years of riding public transport. Most of the time the kids shut up. The rest of the time the kids pipe down for a while but after some nervous laughter they go back to being annoying again. I've never ever seen the kids say or do anything substantial to the confronter. Of course this is Portland, not New York!

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2001

I'm now retired, but I rode buses regularly several yeas ago, often sitting in back. One evening several teen boys joined me back ther and one began to sign the ceiling with an indelible marker. I immediately stood and pulled his hand away. He yelled, "hey, you touched me." I responded with a question, "Do you do that at home?" A young woman then addressed him with invective, as she exited by the rear door. He and his friends left soon thereafter. When I reached my stop I walked to the front and told the non-commital driver, "I just couldn't sit there and watch him deface this bus." My reaction had been instinctive, and only later did I reflect that it might have been perceived as racist, or "dissing", and have led to trouble.

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2001

"Jennifer Lopez harasses people on trains?"

Maybe not that, but have you ever heard her "sing"?

(On her recent stint as host/musical guest on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (sic), her musical spot was obviously lipsynched! SatNiteLive's selling point has always been that not only the comedy sketches but the musical performances are live. J. must have lots '0 juice to have them waive that!)

Sorry to get off-topic. To address the topic, kids have ALWAYS acted loud and brazen in public; this is their way of asserting their "grown-upness," attracting the attention of the opposite sex, impressing each other with how "cool" and self-possessed they are, (i.e., want to appear to be), and so on. Ostentatiously ignoring -- even flouting -- the norms of society (adults) allows kids the comforting illusion that they are in control and have everything all figured out; their need to feel this way may be proportional to the actual fear and confusion they feel in the face of incipient adulthood and its responsibilities and uncertainties. Also, given how savagely judgemental kids are with one another, assuming a hardened veneer of callous indifference or even casual brutality may be a protective device to forestall ostracism by their peers. The difference now in terms of "bad" behavior is one of degree: limits to anti-social behavior are less clearcut, less universally imposed (by adults/parents), less respected. The bad guy, the anti-hero, the "street-wise" figure who ignores all the rules but wins in the end, are all celebrated figures now in popular culture.

I think most kids are still nice and well-behaved -- loudness per se does not equal reprobate behavior -- but the minority who behave badly are MORE badly behaved, perhaps, than formerly. (My own brother does not believe in teaching his two sons proper public etiquette; he thinks such social restraints "stifle" his kids' natural exuberance and personality. Hogwash, of course. A person who knows HOW to behave in any situation will feel more confident in whatever unfamiliar social context he may find himself. My brother's sons are, by temperament, very nice kids -- although they go crazy when their own parents are around, as opposed to their more restrained behavior at other times. One wonders how many of today's parents harbor similar such poor judgement. I wonder how my nephews will behave once they reach adolescence.)

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2001

Yeah, what Robert said. While some may be purposely acting obnoxious, from what I've seen most of them aren't. They really just don't know or don't care that they're bothering people. Most of the time if you tell them to shut up, they will. I remember being like this.

Most kids are polite. It's just the obnoxious ones that we adults notice.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2001

Actually, I think that in one of his earlier mini-comics, Adrian Tomine wrote a short about teenagers yelling swear words on a bus. I can't remember how it ended though.
I don't know that there's much point in confronting rowdy teenagers. Worst case, they're violent rowdy teenagers, and like someone else said, might end up slicing your face with a boxcutter. Most likely case, they just ignore you, or randomly insult you for being lame.
Kids are obnoxitrons because when trying to impress each other. The only four cases I can think of where confrontation would lead to improvement of behavior are:

1) Someone large and scary tells them to stop.
2) Someone in their peer group who is percieved as more cool tells them to stop.
3) An adult who knows their parents tells them to stop. Actually, they would probably just have to see a person who knows their parents.... nobody likes explaining to their parents why they were acting like a jackass.
4) An incredibly attractive member of the opposite sex tells them to stop.

If you are not one of the above, you are unlikely to get any sort of response from obnoxitron kids.

more noise

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2001

Yeah, Adrian Tomine did a story called "Hostage" about a similar situation.

I don't know, though, about the points raised by Scott and Riyati. I mean, if kids are just being noisy, then I can see how they might not realize that their behavior is bothering others, but in the cases mentioned here, where they were throwing things and writing graffiti and harassing people, they had to know that what they were doing was inappropriate.

Furthermore, I think that in each of these cases, the kids involved are fully aware that the passengers around them don't approve, but are too scared to do anything about it. I'm sure it gives them a thrill to know that they can intimidate all those adults.

That's a big reason why I wanted to speak up--to deny those kids the pleasure of intimidating me.

And I don't think anyone here has suggested that all teenagers engage in this sort of behavior, because that's obviously not true. But I do think it's rare for people who are not teenagers to do those sorts of things.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 2001

Since half the people in any public area these days seems to have a cell phone (hey, maybe they all do and only half of them are talking on them at any given moment) I'm surprised that people don't call transit security (or suggest that they are about to do that unless the young creeps straighten out and shutup)... just wondering...

-- Anonymous, March 23, 2001

I saw one version of annoying teenagers in NYC, but to there credit, they were only responding to a crotchity old woman who told a group of african american ladies in the back of a subway that they were laughing and talking too loud. They're retaliation of laughing and talking LOUDER just happened to be REALLY annoying.

I think there's a deeper problem here with the disrespect - from someone who isn't too far out of the teenage years, I wasn't the kid in the back throwing M&M's. I was the kid hanging out with that kid, and I was always afraid of those big guys that would point out our wrongdoings. The kids know it's wrong, but like Jen said, it's a power trip with them.


-- Anonymous, April 02, 2001

Look you guys are whiny bitches. Shut the fuck up and get on with your lives. Stop worrying about what other people do and worry about yourselves.

-- Anonymous, June 06, 2001

Hey joe, these people are just expressing their opinions, so like, what's your problem?

-- Anonymous, November 13, 2001

Hip-hop is my culture . So , if I want to turn my music up on the back of the bus , then I will .I'm only 16 years old but I have morals . Just because we turn our music up don't mean we're bad people . We are gonna do what we want to do ...... so just leave us alone !!!!

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2002

Ms. Gibson -- in response to your rather self centered answer about turning up your music ... leave us alone .... Well, when you disturb others with your loud music it then becomes NOISE POLLUTION ... UNWANTED NOISE.... Your generation keeps doing it ... our generation will KEEP TELLING YOU TO TURN IT DOWN!

-- Anonymous, March 07, 2002

i can honestly say i was slightly offended by some of these answers...i myself am 17 years old and i do not play my music loud.... i was offended at was how so many of you addressed teenagers as "annoying", "disrespectful", etc. but i am a teenager and i am not disrespectful and so in addressing the whole teenage population as annoying is very judgemental.....i do not disagree with most of you about teenagers...being a high school senior i see a majority of the delinquency but please remain open minded and remember that not all of us are that way.....i also believe that delinquenc does not have an age restriction......there are many adults out there who are just as bad as us kids if not worse....so as you are pointing you fingers at teenagers...remember that there are three pointing right back at you....thanks for your time.

-- Anonymous, March 11, 2002

I think most kids are seeing how far they can get with the behavior. I think for the most part they need to learn respect for everyone. You know the Golden Rule!

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2002

I would have to agree with the 17 year old i am 15 and i see alot of delinquency, however that doesn't mean we are all bad. If you have ever seen a talk show 60% of the people on there are adults acting like clowns. When teenagers see this, they could very well point a finger back at you. Also i would like to express the situation of TV music videos who else is on there but adults acting like they have no sense saying 'bitch' and 'ho' and its not just rap music if thats what your thinking rock does just as much sometimes going overboard too. Adults are shaping our generation and so when we imitate what we see you all get mad, upset, and confused. Why? by the way i am black and am from the inner city.

-- Anonymous, September 19, 2002

You know, you people have no life! coming on the internet to tell eachother how evil teenagers are. And give eachother useless tips on how to make us shut up, if that really happend you know we are gonna do it more and just laugh at you. learn to live with it and stop complaining about how we act....MEH!....... dont e-mail me e-mails are unwanted

-- Anonymous, September 30, 2002

It is very disturbing how our generations have so much hatred towards eachother. I am 18 years old and in that phase of life where one turns from a teen to an adult and sincerely, neither side should talk about rudeness. Adults are just as foul, annoying, disrespectfull, and anything else you wanna add to the list, as kids are. So i suggest WE all just worry about doing what's right for OURSELVES and stop trying to change the unchangable.

-- Anonymous, November 20, 2002

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