JIM SHARPE

I hope I’m never NOT shocked by youth violence in the East Valley or elsewhere

Feb 21, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 10:06 am

It’s been tough at times to follow the Gilbert Goons and southeast Valley youth violence cases — for a couple of reasons: there are so many moving parts; and it’s tough to hear about kids who, even though they have been so blessed and given every chance in life, decide they’ll use their time on earth to terrorize their neighbors — becoming so violent so early in life.

It’s been shocking to hear about the sheer size of the problem: Gilbert Police alone have made 41 arrests related to group teen violence. And it’s been shocking to hear the claims that some parents knew that their children were dealing drugs and beating up kids en masse and instead of making them face legal consequences — they sent their bad seeds out of town to avoid the law. 

But when I thought I was done being shocked by southeast Valley youth violence, Gilbert Police announced that they’d arrested a 17-year-old girl in connection with a previously unreported assault that allegedly took place last September. Yes, a girl was charged with assault, disorderly conduct and aggravated robbery — a Class 3 felony. 

Maybe I was so shocked because I wasn’t following the youth violence issue with a magnifying glass. Somebody told me this morning that this girl may have been named as a defendant in one of the lawsuits brought by victims’ parents.

But I hope I never learn to not be shocked by the type of things I’ve heard surrounding these cases.

And I don’t think it’s out of place to say that it’s shocking to hear of a girl involved in group beatdowns and robberies — because that’s very far from the norm. 

What I will say is that she likely committed these alleged acts of violence to get the attention of her peers — and she was hanging out with bad boys.

Which kind of scares me because I’m trying to imagine, in the years to come, who will be knocking on my door to take my daughters out.

Good thing they’re only 8 and 11 and I still have a few more years to instill in them that, no matter what, you take the side of the weak — the person who is being attacked — and never join in with gang mentality. Even if a cute boy — or a cute girl — thinks it’s cool. 

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I hope I’m never NOT shocked by youth violence in the East Valley or elsewhere