Americans need to start owning up

Violent crimes against the homeless are on the rise across the nation.

In itself, this revelation is disturbing.

But even more disturbing is a recent case in Florida — and for multiple reasons.

Two 10-year-old boys are being charged with aggravated battery after attacking a homeless man by throwing rocks, punching and hitting the man in the head with part of the concrete, according to

They were the youngest persons to be arrested for the crime — the previous youngest was 13.

To top it off, the boys blamed the incident pressure from a 17-year-old they were tagging along with.

It’s not their fault. Somebody told them to do it.

We have a few issues with this growing trend of violence toward the homeless, and especially with this case.

First: When did it become the “in” thing to randomly attack homeless people? The popularity of Bum Fights, a documentary video series originally from Indecline Films which shows homeless people fighting and attempting amateur stunts in order to receive a number of incentives. The series claims that it’s purpose is to educate about poverty, but it really only eggs their activities on.

This reliance on “they told me to” as an excuse for severe criminal activity is also a disturbing sign of the times. When the members of this editorial board were 10, we sure didn’t get our blood going by running outside and throwing rocks at random people. The worst thing we did was knock on the mean old neighbor’s door and run away. Or maybe we toilet papered someone’s house.

That’s a long way from seriously injuring another human being.

These boys, we will reiterate, are 10 years old! Children seem to be getting in trouble younger and younger, but the peer-pressure excuse is pretty lame. It’s an excuse that many people have used over time for different crimes. The “(enter random name here) made me do it” excuse.

This is how society has trained our citizens to think. We have been trained, from an early age, to place the blame for our mistakes elsewhere.

While we do acknowledge that peer pressure can be a powerful thing, we aren’t buying it this time. There’s a difference between being pressured to smoke a cigarette and pressured to leave a homeless man with a bloodied nose and black-and-blue eye.

At age 10, children are old enough to decipher between what is right and what is wrong. Clearly, throwing rocks and smashing someone’s face with a concrete slab are not OK. (And if these kids think so, then their parents screwed up somewhere.)

Would the boys have done it without the egging of an older teen? Maybe not. But that doesn’t mean that they should be let off easy. (They’re being charged, but if convicted, the sentences will be far less than the older boy’s.)

More than anything, this is just one more sad case in a line of many.

It’s sad that people get a thrill out of beating up people who are already down on their luck.

But it’s even more sad that these people, even at 10 years old, can’t take responsibility for their actions and that our society seems to encourage such lack of self accountability.

The above column is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.