What is "Wilding"? A Look at Teenage Chaos in Public Places and Its Dangers

Teenagers can sometimes get caught up in the moment and become dangerous to those around them.
Teenagers can sometimes get caught up in the moment and become dangerous to those around them. | Source
Sometimes the violent teens are too many in number and overwhelm law enforcement officials...leaving innocent people to fend for themselves.
Sometimes the violent teens are too many in number and overwhelm law enforcement officials...leaving innocent people to fend for themselves. | Source

Teenage Crime

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.

Teach them to make right decisions, to not follow the crowd.
Teach them to make right decisions, to not follow the crowd. | Source

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.

Participate in a poll:

Why do you think teenagers engage in crime such as "wilding"?

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© 2014 Nicole Canfield

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Comments 10 comments

bethperry profile image

bethperry 3 years ago from Tennesee

Kitty, good grief. And I thought I was a wild teen. Honestly, I think a lot of these criminal trends have one culprit to blame: government telling us that it is abuse to spank our kids. We're told this as soon as they are babies and we live in constant terror of actually disciplining them because of it.No wonder kids are so out of control.

Good article, thanks for sharing!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

kitty.....Good grief. I can barely tolerate hearing about any more of these horrendous "new Fads" ( or however labeled) whether done by kids or alleged adults!

However, I do thank you for your well-written, informative hub. It is important to stay abreast of these crazy activities for our own protection & basic awareness.

Yet another reason for me to be ever so grateful my child-rearing is far behind me, but this is not to say I am not very concerned for my grandchildren at all times. This world of ours continues to become far more frightening in so many regards than when I was raising my sons....and without a single doubt....complete worlds apart from my own era. Heaven help us..........UP+++ Great hub.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether Author

ParadigmEnacted - Yes, it's a little out of my comfort zone but I felt compelled to write it. Thanks so much for reading!

Eric - Very good point! Thank you!

Eddy - Thanks for the vote, madam. :)

FlourishAnyway - Ridiculous isn't it?

AP - Hey, friend! How ya doing? Thanks for stopping by to comment. I agree, it would probably only happen in certain places...without the good ol' boys! :)

Nell - I hadn't heard of your london riots but perhaps I'll do a little research on the matter. Who knows why people do the things they do. Thanks for reading! :)

Spongyollama - Thanks, I'll take that into consideration. However, the title pretty much sums it up.

Spongy0llama profile image

Spongy0llama 3 years ago from Canada

I don't get out much, so I hadn't heard much about this. Thank you for this informative article.

While the definition of "wilding" is implicit in your article, I still think it would be in your best interest to clearly define the term in the beginning of your article before carrying on with examples and further details, rather than just broadly referring to it as a form of teenage crime.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

This is new to me kitty, but doesn't surprise me in the slightest to be honest. Over here a couple of years ago we had the London Riots, and I am sure this was happening then, of course they put it down to being poor, not getting jobs, blah blah blah...but at the end of the day they are just yobs! fascinating read, voted up and shared! nell

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 3 years ago from North Carolina

"Temper tantrum on a serious scale" is a good phrase for it Ericdieker. We don't see too much "wilding" in these parts. Maybe it's because of all the good 'ol boys who would vehemently disapprove of such behavior.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

What a terrible thing. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

A very interesting read and well presented. Voted up and thanks for sharing.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Sometimes mass disruption is a protest gone in a seemingly random direction. The wilding sure looks like that actions of angry children. I doubt they are angry at fairs. I am sorry to suggest the anger comes from a spoiled view that is not being met. A temper tantrum on a serious scale.

ParadigmEnacted profile image

ParadigmEnacted 3 years ago

I think of it as an involuntary reaction to amassing social discord and feeling sold out by older generations, but of course these kids can't really fathom or articulate something like that because it's involuntary. These actions are obviously misdirected and won't make their futures any brighter. Some of them have the propensity to regret their actions while still living with the stigma, many of them can't be saved at all. Sucks for them either way.

Was this one a little outside of your comfort zone? Very well researched and eye opening presentation.

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