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VICTOR JOECKS: Fatal beating of high school student reveals societal rot

Schools and society have told kids for years that they aren’t responsible for their actions. Now you’re seeing the tragic results of teenagers acting like they aren’t responsible for their actions.

The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested eight teens in connection with the mob beating of 17-year-old Jonathan Lewis Jr. Police say Lewis went to an alley behind Rancho High School to fight someone over the theft of items stolen from Lewis or his friends. But this wasn’t a fair fight. As soon as it began, 10 people swarmed Lewis.

As a viral video shows, they were “kicking, stomping and punching” the victim “as he’s on the ground, not defending himself,” Metro Lt. Jason Johansson said. Lewis died from his wounds last week. Police say those eight individuals will be charged with murder. Two suspects remained at large on Thursday.

The eight people police arrested are between 13 and 17. The murder suspects are literally children.

This should prompt some societal soul searching. Yes, these teenagers are responsible for their own actions. But societal institutions have influence, too. This crime suggests a far wider breakdown. It’s also just one of a string of occurrences screaming out that kids are in crisis.

The country is divided on the cause of inhumane crimes such as this. Progressives blame systemic racism and white privilege. They’ve embraced critical race theory, a Marxist premise that arbitrarily divides people into groups based on race. White people are the oppressors. Black people are the oppressed. The oppressors have created systems that benefit them at the expense of the oppressed. Those systems must be destroyed, according to this worldview

This is no mere academic theory. That viewpoint has led to policy changes in the Clark County School District. After being hired in 2018, Superintendent Jesus Jara identified racial disparities in school discipline as a problem. Black students were far more likely to be suspended or expelled than white and Asian students. His solution was to push school officials to discipline fewer students. He pushed for “restorative justice,” which is a fancy term for “no consequences.”

Here are the results. Lax discipline policies led to more violence in local schools. Students begin to believe they can get away with anything. Remember the teen charged with hitting and killing a retired police chief who was riding his bicycle in August? The teen told the arresting officer, “I’ll be out in 30 days.” Instead, he’s facing potentially decades in jail. I’ll bet those students near Rancho thought something similar.

But systemic racism didn’t cause this beating. The victim was white, and most of those arrested are Black.

There’s a better explanation. Human beings are fundamentally evil. Societal institutions — family, religion, school — must civilize children. Rule breakers need to face consequences to steer them away from wrong behavior.

When those institutions break down — and the left has successfully attacked them for decades — outrageous behavior inevitably follows.

Traditions are the solutions to problems we’ve forgotten about. If you want to prevent teenagers from mercilessly murdering their peers, that’s the place to start.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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