What is "Wilding"? A Look at Teenage Chaos in Public Places and Its Dangers
So many resources these days claim that violent crime has been on a steady decline over the past decade or so, but there are those out there who disagree. Some believe that violent crime is on the rise, including violent crime committed by our own children - our teenagers. While we'd like to believe that our teenagers wouldn't become involved in any type of crime, let alone violent crime, unfortunately many teenagers tend to follow what their friends are doing and therefore get involved in something that might not have otherwise.
It is true that not every teenager misbehaves or is involved in crime, but there are those who do engage in crime including violence and disorderly conduct of various kinds. This article takes a look at a particular form of teenage crime known as "wilding", and it seeks to show society just how dangerous this form of crime can be....even when committed by mere teenagers.
ABC Action News Reports on Wilding at State Fair
"Wilding" at the Tampa State Fair, February 2014
On February 7th, 2014, almost one hundred teenagers were thrown out of the Tampa State Fair due to disorderly conduct. It turns out these teenagers were engaged in something known as "wilding". The Tampa police actually claim that there were more than one hundred teenagers involved, that in fact there were more like two hundred some teens involved. But the problem was that there were not enough law enforcement officials to catch and eject the entire group of trouble-makers. This "wilding" started with a group of teenagers running through the fair and knocking people down in their path. This group of teenagers grew and grew until upwards of a few hundred teenagers were not only running people down but were also knocking people unconscious and stealing their property.
For example, a handicapped woman was said to have been knocked down and her purse stolen. Candy apples were ripped from their shocked vendors and hurled at law enforcement. One policeman said in an interview that he saw a man literally get knocked unconscious from behind, and unfortunately there was nothing he could do about it at the time because the crime was literally all around him. They had to prioritize and eject the worst of the worst, at that point.
Directly following this mass ejection of teenagers due to this violent tradition of "wilding", a fourteen-year-old boy who had been kicked out of the state fair attempted to cross the highway and was killed. Obviously his wilding actions aren't completely to blame for his decision to cross a busy highway, but there is an indirect correspondence here, as you can see.
The tradition of "wilding" at the Tampa State Fair is something that has happened in years prior to this year, but the policemen were not as prepared this year because 2013's state fair was pretty tame. They weren't expecting the number of out-of-control kids to increase into the hundreds. Local news claimed that it was School Kids Get In Free night at the Tampa State Fair, meaning that this increased the number of teenagers on grounds that night. Also, the mayhem didn't begin until the sun had set.
Violence at a State Fair in Iowa
Wilding: Not Just in Tampa and Not a New Thing
Wilding is a tradition that goes back to at least the 1980s, according to online sources. This tradition can be described as a planned practice of groups of people terrorizing other people with different forms of crime. These crimes could be as simple as verbal harassment, and can escalate quickly to more serious offenses including battery, theft, and even rape.
In the 1989, seven teenagers were arrested for raping a jogger in Central Park in New York City. They were part of a group of 30+ teenagers who were reportedly "wilding" and harassing park goers and officials alike. Obviously this group of teens took it way too far. The boys not only raped the woman but beat her with a pipe, a rock, and their fists and she wound up in a coma.
In recent years, a social media organized group dance known as the "flash mob" started taking many cities by storm. Youtube and viewers enjoyed watching the crazy charades people would engage in while dancing in a group in the middle of Times Square, in offices across the country, and in malls. They would dance pretty much anywhere at any given time. But the real problem began when teenagers and adults alike would use social media to plan a "flash mob" that actually gathered at public places and became violent. The dancing went out the window and these "flash mobs" were obviously participating in what we would call "wilding". In fact, certain states have cracked down on social media planned "flash mobs" for this purpose.
So we can see that "wilding" has been around for quite some time, and it not only includes large groups of teens fighting each other but also involves quite violent crimes. The dangers of "wilding" can be devastating...traumatizing.
What About My Teenager?
You might have a teenager at home, and maybe you're wondering how about my teen? How do I keep my teen out of trouble of this magnitude? How do I know they won't get involved in something so violent and mindless? No one can tell you how to raise your child or how to prevent them from being criminals. Only you can encourage your teenagers to make the right decisions, to be leaders instead of followers, and to respect the human lives around them.
It starts when they are children and should be reinforced throughout their teen years. That old cliché to treat others how we want to be treated. Do you ever ask your children, "if your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it too?" It's an old saying, but it rings true in this day-and-age of "wilding" and violent teen crimes. I would almost bet that many of the teenagers involved weren't planning on joining in, but then they saw their friends do it and the mass mentality took hold of their impressionable minds. We have to teach them to stand up for what's right, and to not be another person in a crowd of "wilders".
Oh, and let's not blame the policemen for the death of an adolescent who knowingly crossed a dangerously busy highway at night. Again, we have to teach them how to make smart decisions in life.
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© 2014 Nicole Canfield
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