You may have heard this week, on this blog and many others, a controversial ruling from North Texas, regarding 16 year old Ethan Couch. The teen got behind the wheel of his father’s truck and killed 4 people including a pastor; and paralyzed a friend riding in his truck.
Judge Jean Boyd gave Couch ten years’ probation, and will assign him to a treatment center for rehabilitation for Affluenza, a condition in which Couch’s affluent lifestyle gave him a sense of entitlement and he did not know right from wrong. Affluenza is not a condition recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Dick Miller, the psychologist who defended the teen, said that he is a victim of his parents’ wealth, of their constant arguing which led to their divorce, and his sense of entitlement which led to irresponsibility, poor decisions, and drug use. He was unable to discern from right or wrong.
Hhhmm……surely, there are mental health problems that children raised in the opposite environment suffer from?
Also known as “Thug” or “Gangbanger”
Ghettoapathy- is a portmanteau of ghettoism and apathy this term can be used by critics of poverty and violence.
Judge Boyd, also presided over a case last year in which a 14 year old African American boy punched one person, who subsequently fell and hit his head and died from the injury. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.
According to author and commentator, Boyce Watkins, “This case is even more sickening when one considers how often serious psychological problems are not taken into consideration when the cases involve poor, Black or Brown people. How often do our kids commit crimes after being victims of years of abuse, neglect, hunger, mis-education, and dire poverty?”
This is a disease
Unlike, Affluenza, violence is recognized by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization, and American Psychological Association as a public health issue, that have direct negative consequences to a person’s psyche and a community’s stabilization.
Ghettoapathy can be defined as someone being raised in an environment where violence is accepted or even encouraged. This high-risk individual can be a perpetrator or victim of a violent act, as well as a transmitter of violence if rehabilitation isn’t enacted soon enough.
According to the Cure Violence Project, some successful rehabilitation techniques include peer mentorship, drug counseling, and job/education training; this strategy has directly led to a reduction in shootings/killings from 16% to 34%.
There are no studies regarding the rehabilitation of those victim to wealth and affluence. Nor how such wealth and affluence can destabilize a community.
Is your community at-risk for this disease?
Community level risk factors for violence include increased levels of unemployment, poverty, and transiency; decreased levels of economic opportunities and community participation; poor housing conditions; and a lack of access to services, according to the American Psychological Association. Youths from low-income neighborhoods also witness significantly more severe violence (viz., murders and stabbings) than youths from middle- and upper-income neighborhoods.
These communities also referred to as ghettos, have post-violent consequences which can affect attainment of employment or education; as well as continue a cycle of violence.
- Low-income women who experienced intimate partner violence or aggression had only one-third odds of maintaining a 30-hour work week for 6 or more months than women who did not experience violence
- Elementary schools that participated in bully and violence prevention programs had significantly higher student achievement scores than schools that did not incorporate such programs
- If parents use negative forms of discipline (i.e., physical punishment), their children are more likely to use violence to resolve their own conflicts
Thus, one hopes that Judge Boyd and other justices in the criminal system, will begin to take note of the epidemic that is gripping our nation, and hurting low-income youths and families.
Ghettoapathy is a condition that can destroy a society if left uncheck. Adult and youth perpetrators should be treated and rehabilitated from this “disease” using the proven methods stated above. Particularly the youth, as Dr. Miller stated so empathetically on AC 360 show, that the juvenile justice system is meant to rehabilitate and reintegrate young offenders so they can contribute meaningfully to society, as adults.
The only question that is left to ask, is why did the psychologist and judge feel that Ethan Couch’s Affluenza inhibited his decision making, but no one considered a case of Ghettoapathy for the 14 year old who is now in prison?