Saturday, February 27, 2016

Ingenuity and Serendipity - the importance of little things. Who first used tools?

Nature has been the great source of human invention and discovery.

Dr Abe V Rotor

If you think you cannot do much, and that the little you can do is of no value, think of these things.

1. A tea kettle singing on a stove was the beginning of the steam engine. 

2. A shirt wavibg on the clothesline was the beginning of a balloon, the forerunner of Graf Zeppelin. 

3. A spider web strung across a garden path suggested the suspension bridge.
4. A lantern swinging in a tower as the beginning of a pendulum.

5. An apple falling from a tree led to the discovery of the law of gravity

We may not know who first discovered fire, invented the wheel, the fish hook, or thought of the idea of a pyramid.  We can only wonder on the ingenuity of the inventors of the scissor and the sewing needle,  And the paper clip for that matter.

But who first used tools? 

1. The otter playfully lies on its back in water, crushes its food shells with stones on its chest. 

2. The eagle takes up in the air a piece of bone, aims and drops it accurately hitting a rock in order to break, then it comes down and eats on the bone marrow.  

File:The Crow and the Pitcher - Project Gutenberg etext 19994.jpg3. The macaque uses stick which it probes into a termite nest in order to gather ermites which it eventually eats.  Some birds do the same in exracting the larvae of tree borers. 

4. Crows drop stones in pitchers to raise the height of water inside, just like in Aesop's fable.

5. Orangutans make improvised whistles from bundles of leaves, which they use to help ward off predators.

6. Elephants  plug up water holes with balls of chewed bark to keep other animals from drinking them away.

7. Dolphins carry marine sponges in their beaks to stir ocean-bottom sand and uncover prey. 

8. Gorillas  are known to use branches as walking sticks to test water depth and trunks from shrubs as makeshift bridges to cross deep patches of swamp.

9. Weaver ants glue leaves to make their nest. They train their larvae to secrete glue while members of the colony pull the leaves together.

10. Orangutans use a stick to poke a bees' nest wall, move it around and catch the honey.

Reference: Living with Nature AVR, Livescience

Your unfinished work could be your masterpiece!

 Remember that those things you did which for one reason or another were left "unfinished" could be a treasure, and who knows - people some day will remember you because of them. 
Dr Abe V Rotor
Photos by Anna Christina R Rotor And Leo Carlo R Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Lesson: Don't discard your unfinished work, say a painting, novel, sculpture. Try to get back to it. It could be your masterpiece. Maybe you were not able to complete it because you gave way to the priorities of living, or finding new interests, challenges, assignments, or simply you lost steam, so to speak. Or you say you've grown too old to complete it.

Take the case of the mysterious unfinished human figures at the University of the Philippines at Diliman, QC. Do they mean anything but abandonment? To me it's not. So with my daughter Anna and son Leo Carlo who took these photographs.

These unfinished life size human figures occupy the “less trodden” front yard of the UP College of Fine Arts in Diliman, QC. The artists may have in mind the portrayal of man more as a Homo faber - man the worker or maker rather than his attribute as the reasoning man (Homo sapiens) - and much less the playing man - Homo ludens. Here the figures appear to be workers of the land. In fact one resembles the Man with a Hoe by Markham. Another appears to be carrying an imaginary heavy load.

What is puzzling however, is the representation of peaceful death. While the living struggle, the dead lies in true rest, cradled by the earth. Which then changes the scenario if all the figures were to be directed to a solemn and sorrowful occasion of burying a departed member in thin ceremonious atmosphere. It now expresses the highest attribute of man - Homo spiritus - the praying man who places completely his fate to a Higher Being. The viewer now turns his thoughts to grief and compassion, and the scene is no longer the farm but a sacred ground. The imagined heavy load is a  burden of the heart, the figures are bent not by the burden of work but by the loss of a loved one.

Art is like that. It is like poetry, the meaning is hidden "between the lines." Like impressions in Impressionism; points in Pointillism. Or masked symbols in Pablo Picasso's plaza mural - Guernica. Unfinished works of masters often become their masterpieces like the Unfinished Symphony of Beethoven, and Mozart's Requiem, his last composition commissioned by a mysterious person. Mozart died before finishing it, and Requiem became his own. Auguste Renoir repeatedly painted his favorite Nymphaea Waterlilies until darkness took over his failing sight - so with the painting's clarity. Though half finished it is Renoir's final signature.

Venus de Milo is more beautiful with her arms missing. And for this, the best artists in the world gave up their attempt to supply her arms.

The mystery of the human figures of UP Diliman emanates from the anonymity of their theme that stands at the crossroad of human imagination searching for the meaning of life, exacerbated by their unfinished, and apparent abandoned state.

So what have you discovered about yourself by going back to those unfinished works? Share with us your experience. Remember those things you abandoned could be your greatest treasures, and who knows - people some day will remember you because of them. ~

Reel Buggy - A Child's Invention

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid with Ms Melly C Tenorio

738 DZRB AM 8 to 9 Evening Class, Monday to Friday

If only my Reel Buggy take the road, people would wonder where on earth did it come from?
Because anything that comes from a child is strange to the grownup, and the child a stranger.
Strange this world, every car is a copy of another, and another, millions, perhaps billions, 
The game? Invention.  Invention from another invention, imitating and putting in some change.  
But they are all the same: gas fed, inflated tires, body, bumper, seat - all of the same pattern.

My Reel Buggy has little, if ever, of these.  It is bare to the basics when the wheel was made.
The wheel is not an invention.  It was serendipity that led to its use. Some round stone rolled off.
Then an axle was fitted, then a cart on it. The ox was tamed. Road laid. Communities grew.
Beyond that the wheel became useful in many ways, and took the high road to sophistication.
And stopped at man's yearning for freedom to travel fast, to go to the moon and outer space,

To build machines, machines to build other machines, to robots, to explore and tap everything.
And Eureka! A new order.  A new ecosystem under man's command, the world shrinking fast,
All in the name of globalization, a term we least understand, and the world a roaring wheel. 
Losing the essence of invention on the grassroots, which itself bears the subsidy of invention:
From rubber to ore, to labor, to land supporting industries and cities, all spawned by the wheel.

We love momentum though dizzying - momentum for super economy, affluence, ad infinitum.
Pity the only rational being, his very own inventions taking him fast to his demise and doom;
Nuclear armament, genetic engineering, cyberspace conquest, probing deeper into sea and sky.
And looking back at the Tree of Knowledge our forebears violated, where are we headed for?
I look back sixty years ago on a sketch of my invention, pure and simple, and almost bare.

All I needed were an empty spool, rubber band, stick, a slice of candle - presto! a Reel Buggy!
Its power stored by the torque of rubber, stored inside the reel, released slowly by the wax,
Steered and balanced by a stick, and a smaller one at the other end to release excess torque.
There my buggy would move forward slow and steady, on the playground, smooth or rough. 
 Kids cheered and copied it.  Soon each one had his own Reel Buggy.  And that's the beginning of this story. ~ 

The famous Moon Buggy (left), and a simpler version. In 1971, the Moon Buggy was first used by during the Apollo 12 landing to explore the Moon. The inventor Eduardo San Juan (aka The Space Junkman) worked on the team that worked invented the Lunar Rover or Moon Buggy. Eduardo San Juan graduated from Mapua Institute of Technology. He then studied Nuclear Engineering at the University of Washington. In 1978, San Juan received one of the Ten Outstanding Men (TOM) awards in science and technology.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Vulture and a Child: A Surreal Fable and Saddest Picture - is it? A critique-analysis

Dr Abe V Rotor
I wish to share the result of a discussion with my students in photography and friends in the academe and public service regarding this celebrated photograph. It will no doubt arouse the same pathetic feeling and revulsion, but photographs if grossly browsed like a passing glance may not give the true picture. How I wish we are right in your own judgment.

Upper photo, enlarged for clarity and study; lower photo is original from the Internet.
Even the saddest condition this photo portrays has some light of hope that the real situation is not really that worst.

First, the setting of the photo is a community. The grass huts, version of our bahay kuho, typical in farming communities, are huddled into a compound or neighborhood, likely the dwellings of a large family or related members of a tribe.

Second, the photo was taken towards the end of harvest. The harvest is now stored in the shacks after it has been threshed or shelled. Grains are visible over the threshing ground. And it seems gleaning can wait - if ever to be done at all. Which means the harvest is not really bad. Note the normal size of the stovers of sorghum or corn lying on the field and those piled in stack or mandala among the huts apparently stored as buffer stock.

Third, the trees form cozy woodland in spite of the dry condition that characterizes harvestime. Trees usually grow where there is a good source of water, probably a stream or basin which serves as sump for irrigation. (Note the irrigation levee of the field, like the pilapil of our rice paddy. It is likely that the levee is for retaining water from rain, but could serve for flash irrigation as well.) The closer the trees grow, and the wider the area they occupy, means water is readily available throughout the year. In all indications the woodland is a permanent feature of the landscape. It shows the features of an ecosystem – permanence and diversity.

Fourth, in a drought stricken area where people are occasionally driven to famine, the signs of destruction of the place are visible. Trees would be stripped of their foliage, whole trees cut for firewood, people abandoning destroyed homes, and nothing is green. Soil cracks, bushfire remains are evident. But here in the photo the fields bear new growth, some patches of grass, which means that rain is not totally absent or that the ground is bone dry.
Fifth, the vulture is a popular part of the savannah landscape. They have learned to frequent farms, pastures, and villages, and mingle with living things while scavenging in the process. Our concept of wild animals may be exaggerated such as a lion devouring an antelope, or a shark suddenly attacking a swimmer on the beach. Through adaptation, and ingrained in a particular culture, such fear is uncommon to the natives of the place. The relationship of the vulture and the boy in the photo shows no strain on neither part. The vulture keeps a comfortable distance without any sign of aggression or ritual behavior of a predator. Often, vultures are gregarious, and very seldom does one venture alone, especially if there is potential food at hand.

Sixth, the boy is very much alive. He may be thin, but this is common among inhabitants of arid regions. Also, parents don't pamper their children like we do. But they are equally if not more caring and loving. Note the necklace of the child. It could be a tribal insignia or indicator of social standing. Independence and curiosity often go together. Could he be playing? Or just curious at a thing? The apparent absence of fear in the boy is as instinctive as fear itself in the verge of dying. In the latter, too, instinct draws out the ultimate defense of self preservation, whether one young or old – which does not show in the child.

Seventh, community life in rural villages is an extension of family life. Abandonment is very rare. In general the poorer people are, the closer they are bonded biologically and as a community. And it is difficult to rationalize ones way out from collective responsibility. It is unthinkable to leave a young kid alone treading towards a distant feeding camp, when in the first place he has no idea what it is about, more so on how to get there. Could the photo have been scripted?

Eighth, if the photographer did nothing to save the boy as alleged, could it be for the aforementioned reasons? That there was no imminent danger of a vulture about to attack the kid soon after he would breath his last? (Vulture do not prey on living things, they are scavengers). The photographer must have gauged well the situation before he left the place. The ethics of journalism is to uphold human dignity. It is sensitive to human rights and freedom. It is compassionate and humane. These set media on a plane of high respect and caliber. It is unthinkable to attribute the author’s sad fate to his own inaction.

Ninth, The UN could not have missed a basic responsibility as it is known for its thoroughness and comprehensive manner of handling such a sensitive operation, networking with institutions, communities, and known leaders. The presence of a photographer in the area is proof enough that the area is not isolated or abandoned. Also, it is unthinkable for one to put another into a bad light amidst crisis.

Tenth, the impact of the photo broke silence and indifference of the world on victims of circumstances. There must have been some vestiges of projecting compassion, or even draw ire and anger, but as a whole the photo is a reminder of the oneness of humanity, that when someone dies, a little bit is each member also dies; and for the victory of one however modest it may be, makes everyone feel triumphant. The ability of mankind to succeed in all its trials has been the result of such beautiful unity and harmony. Which the child and the vulture brought new light and fresh reminder. ~

Philippine Literature in Contemporary Perspective

Philippine literature should uphold challenge both the young and the old; lend new light to old beliefs and ideologies and contextualize forthcoming trends; describe and comment on exigent national and global issues; and trace and outline history through the lens of the voiceless, oppressed, and marginalized.

Dr Abe V Rotor 
Co-author of Philippine Literature Today 
C and E Publishing Co., 2014
 Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

1. Philippine literature takes us back to the domain of the gods and goddesses, to the throne of Bathala, to the times of Malakas at Maganda.

2. Philippine literature brings back the sweet days of childhood when kapres still lived in big trees, dwendes in punso (anthill), and manananggal used to peep through thatched roofs.  

The whole experience is distilled in the form of fantastic tales - a sort of transference, a courageous parting from childhood memories, albeit leaving imprints of the unknown and ineffable aspects of the world - which serve as forms of nostalgia and entertainment during our adult years.

3. Philippine literature unveils the world of the minutiae - honeybee converting nectar into pukyutan (honey), worms weaving the finest sutla (silk), and fireflies emitting the brightest of lights.  

4. Philippine literature has never been dull and prosaic.  It has done away with romanticism and evolved alongside events that shaped the Philippines as a nation .  It blazed paths which remained untrodden, spoke about relevant issues that used to be unspeakable, and utilized modes of expression shunned in the past.

5. Philippine literature "on the other side of the fence," so to speak, portrays the wretched, pitiful, painful, and deplorable conditions of human life; but at the same time, it gives a sense of hope and redemption in the end.  Doing away with the idyllic representation of reality, literature is able to lend its voice to the voiceless, oppressed, and marginalized sectors of the society.

6. Philippine literature was inevitably shaped by a colonial past.  This led a lot of scholars and critics to prolematize and debate the "pureness" of our literature.  However, the point is not to categorize and evaluate our literary tradition and production in terms of its purported originality and provenance, but to trace and identify the historical events, processes, and departures that affected its development.

7. Philippine literature exalts the beauty of the Filipina - the subject of countless stories, poems, and songs - though the Maria Clara image of the Filipina has coalesced with contemporary culture.  Moreover, we can still say that the essence of Filipino womanhood is still present in the modern society.  Proof of this is the abundance of literary texts that feature the important role of women in our society. 

8. Philippine literature not only produced transcendent works, but also showed the world the greatness of the Philippines and its people: Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo described the plight of Filipinos during the Spanish colonial period; Bonifacio's Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa inflamed the Philippine Revolution; Lopez-Jaena's Fray Botod exposed corruption and oppressive rule of the Spanish friars and Balagtas' Florante at Laura, unanimously considered as the masterpiece in Philippine narrative poetry,   

9. We have an extensive and pervasive oral literary tradition.  Most modern and contemporary literary forms trace their roots not only from foreign sources but also from native literary forms like the bugtong, dagli, ambahan, tanaga, dalit, diona, pasingaw, ulahingan, leyenda, awit, korido, duplo, zarzuela, kotkotan, hudhud, patotodon, etc.  This goes to show that our literature, despite the detrimental effects of colonialism and increased Westernization, still suckles from its original literary bosom. 

10. Philippine literature has been instrumental in the preservation of Philippine culture and values like bayanihan (cooperation), lamayan (wake), and the annual pista (fiesta). Through poems and stories that depict the richness and quaintness of Filipino life in the past, people of the present learn to appreciate the practices, values, and beliefs being passed on to them by their parents and forebears.  

11. Philippine literature needs to continuously question and reinvent itself; it needs to "come down to earth" to address relevant societal issues and concerns.  It needs to get out of the academe, its eternal comfort zone, and find new ways to articulate and tackle pressing realities.  "Get out of the house," cried the late national poetess Ophelia A Dimalanta. "Bond with the people, bond with nature," a call for responsive change.  On the other hand, literature should also utilize new mediums like the Internet and multimedia.

12. Lastly, Philippine literature should uphold challenge both the young and the old; lend new light to old beliefs and ideologies and contextualize forthcoming trends; describe and comment on exigent national and global issues; and trace and outline history through the lens of the voiceless, oppressed, and marginalized. ~

Bannawag (Dawn) is the oldest and largest in circulation Ilocano magazine with readers here and abroad. Right photo, author (right) and managing editor Cles Rambaud. Bannawag is currently published by Manila Bulletin. Its counterparts are Liwayway and Hiligaynon. Vernacular publications are vital in preserving traditional, ethnic and cultural values.       
Author and family with Bishop Teodoro Bacani (center) known for his hard hitting homilies and religious writings. 

Author and wife with Larry Henares, radio commentator and newspaper columnist  Author with Fr James Reuter SJ columnist and TV-Radio commentator, playright writer and dramatist, author of several books, teacher, retreat master and spiritual adviser.
 Icons of Philippine Literature Sedrey Ordonez, Ophelia Dimalanta,  Jose Villa (extreme right)
Biag ni Lam-ang (Life of Lam-ang) is the most popular Philippine epic. Evangeline or Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Logfellow was a popular romantic epic introduced to the Philippines by the Americans during the Commonwealth Era. 
Children's TV programs such as Nick Junior, Baby First, Baby TV has brought down literature to the level of children and babies as entertainment and early training.  Animation has changed the traditional Mickey Mouse of Disney to more educational and values oriented topics. 


“Oh, the stories I can tell you, if you but have the time to listen, but you are going away.  Everybody is going someplace.  They are all in a hurry; they will not listen to me.  And those who will tarry here forever, they have no ears for my stories, because they have seen them happen everywhere, and they don’t want them told, they are commonplace, they say they should be hushed and forgotten …
Bienvenido Santos, The Door

“I use the word “culture” in its broadest sense as denoting the sum-total of a nation’s achievements in art, religion, science, and letters; their philosophy and way of life; the ideals and instrumentalities by which they live.  Our culture, then , is the continuity of our traditional life, the whole body of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual values which have come down to us as our heritage after centuries of accretion and evolution.”
Salvador P. Lopez, The Problem of Our Culture  

Monday, February 22, 2016

When was the last time you built sandcastles?

"Build sandcastles, fairy tale or true, 
for life's but a passing review."

 Dr Abe V Rotor
A family building sandcastle. Nasugbu, Batangas 2016

Build sandcastles, they make dreams come true,
on a flying magic carpet’s view;

Build sandcastles and copy the clouds,
faces of creatures behind a shroud;

Build sandcastles and meet the Martians,
the Aztecs, the cowboys and Indians.

Build sandcastles, poet Milton long aimed:
Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained;

Build sandcastles along the river,
playground of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer;

Build sandcastles, and meet Peter Pan,
Casper, Nemo, in the world of fun;

Build sandcastles and hunt for treasure
in the Pyramids and Aegean shore;

Build sandcastles for pleasure and pain
in Great Expectations by Mark Twain;

Build sandcastles, they bring back the past,
when you're young and never cease to ask;

Build sandcastles, tall as the Eiffel,
until the sun sets and the winds chill;

Build sandcastles and reach out to sea,
to the unknown and risk to be free;

Build sandcastles, while in tender years;

grownups who did, live up in good cheers;

Build sandcastles, fairy tale or true,
for life's but a passing review. ~

Building Sandcastles on Morong Beach, Bataan

Friday, February 19, 2016

Neptune, God of the Sea visits his kingdom on a wall mural

"The sea - a divided realm of politics, commerce, and exploitation, crying, pleading to Neptune and his kind."
Dr Abe V Rotor
Neptune Junior stands proudly with his trident as he passes by his kingdom - the sea - a mural painting by the author at his residence in Lagro, QC. Photo taken  during a parade sponsored by Einstein School in January 2016.
Greek mythology comes alive, the sea is full of life:
     creatures in a wide range of  biodiversity,
the dreaded Kraken, the resurrected Coelacanth, 
     ruins of technology, records of history.

Deeper than Mt Everest is high, the Marianas Trench,
     craggy, eerie more than the Grand Canyon,
yet gentle as the Pacific, save Michener's Hawaii
     where man and nature seek a peaceful union.    

A Kingdom of legends and adventures, of Jules Verne
     and Cousteau, fiction and science combined;
a divided realm of politics, commerce, exploitation,    
     crying, pleading to Neptune and his kind.

" The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
Jacques Cousteau (World's famous oceanographer)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Begging for a Seat in School

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class Monday to Friday

A reproduction of an untitled painting by an unknown artist

A disturbing scene to Maslow -
could he have been wrong?
What is self-actualization
to the striving throng?

What's good is the Bastille trilogy -
pillars of modern society:
equality, fraternity,
liberty - sans dignity?

Motherhood words may come easy;
they cannot be mistaken,
for the lips that speak of promise
are easily forgotten.

And the world goes on as it seems;
a beggar boy, its conscience:
lost youth, lost hope, lost future
in the midst of affluence.

The door is jarred to full view
and knocking wouldn't lend an ear;
indifference makes man blind
or takes him to the rear.

He who feels for the needy
with nothing to give is a fool,
in a world deaf to a poor boy
begging for a seat in school. ~

NOTE: A student of mine from Iran at the UST Graduate School left this reproduction as a souvenir. The painting was made by an unknown artist, apparently belonging to the post classicism at the dawn of realism.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Requiem to the Coral Reef Murals

Requiem to the Coral Reef Murals
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Mural painting and Poem by Dr Abe V Rotor

Far from Renoir's art, the colors of Rembrandt;
neither realism nor expressionism, though nil;
my brush just went rolling, rolling, and singing,
Neptune's tune, going with imagery and will.  

Far from the deep, and far from the ocean cove,
neither in a submarine nor with a diving gear,
the scene is as vivid as it had never been seen;
it's the inner mind, even with fading senses bear. 

There's time a thing, anything is viewed with awe,
and when it is no longer, when faded and worn;
in time in another view, this to be no longer true,
knowest a masterpiece however it was sworn. 

Through ages, neither continuous nor continuum,
that art and man, and man and art, not the same;
like the lost era that built the glorious renaissance,
the ancient, the ethnic, the unknown remain.~

Behold the hand that makes, and Lo! the hand
that ruins, or beauty sliding away from it,
the mural peeling off and the wall crumbling -
so with art, its heart, its message, its spirit. ~

Details of mural are fast deteriorating with time under the elements.  
St. Paul University Quezon City.

Yellow Bell (Allamanda cathartica) - Ornamental and Medicine

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Yellow Bell, Allamanda cathartica , Family Apocynaceae,

Native to the Americas (Mexico to Argentina), probably introduced to the Philippines from Mexico by the Spaniards. It is cultivated as ornamental plant owing to its large, bright yellow flowers. Another species, A. blanchetii bears pink flowers. The genus name Allamanda honors the Swiss botanist and physician Frédéric-Louis Allamand (1735–1803).

Allamanda species have been used as traditional medicine to treat liver tumors, jaundice, splenomegaly, and malaria. [In analyses, some species have shown some activity against carcinoma cells, pathogenic fungi, and HIV. 

In lab analyses Allamanda species have yielded several chemical compounds, including iridoid lactones such as allamandin, plumericin, and plumierides. Plumericin particularly was demonstrated to be a highly potent NF-κB inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity in vitro and in vivo, while its structurally related derivatives plumierdin, plumeridoid C, and allamandicin did not have activity. The lignan pinoresinol and coumarins such as scopoletin and scoparone have been isolated from A. schottii. (Wikipedia)

Caution: Allamanda cathartica is notable for its medicinal properties although all parts of the plant contain allamandin, a toxic iridoid lactone. The leaves, roots and flowers are used as a laxative and emetic in traditional medicine in a number of tropical countries.
Although the milky sap is known to contain antibacterial and possibly anticancer properties it is poisonous and ingesting large amounts can be toxic. Effects of poisoning can also include rashes, itch, and blisters.

Don’t allow children to sip the nectar of the flowers, which is somewhat sweet. Initial numbness of lips and tongue indicates allergic reaction. Seek medical attention.       

NOTE: Photographs were taken by the author at Terrazas de Punta de Fuego, Nasugbu, Batangas, February 7, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Troubled Signs Leading to Juvenile Violence

Dr Abe V Rotor 

Do you have children who love guns and bombs?  Be aware that this is an indicator, an early sign, a tendency in later years to becoming violent.  And it may come in their teen years.

Take these cases. A 17-year old who killed his father and mother and fatally shot two classmates with rifle (October1997 Mississippi), A 15-year old who fatally shot two students, wounding 18 others, both parents, and attacked an arresting officer with knife. And a 14-year old who killed three girls with a 22 semi-automatic pistol (Dec 1997 Kentucky). 

It is utterly shocking for very young people committing heinous crimes!

Adolescence indeed may lead to the wrong road.  But how do we explain younger boys involved in similar crimes? Just at the crossroad of childhood? Here is a case of a 11-year old and a 13-year old who attacked their school killing five with handguns and rifles. (March 1998, Arkansas)

Observe your boys (and girls), other kids as well if they exhibit the following
Troubled Signs
  •   Torturing animals
  •   Dressing in Black
  •   Vowing grim imaginings like
            - “I’m going to blow something.”
            - “I’ll start World War III.”
            - “I’m going to kill somebody.”
“A child might be defiant at school. What a teacher might not know is that the student spent the morning feeding a younger sibling or taking care of a drug-addicted parent. The child, raised with cruelty, violence and hunger, turns on those around him.”  - Pat Kennedy (Erie County Chief Public Defender)

What can we do as parents, teachers, leaders of our community?

  •   Keep your family solid, live in peace and harmony 
  •  Restrict toy guns and war toys, including violent games on the computer
  •   Guide their programs on TV, cinema, computer, including magazines.
  •   Check your kid’s company. Guard your kid from joining violent groups
  •   Communicate with your kids
  •   Give quality time with them. (E.g. Participate in their school activities.
  •   Show good examples of growing up, live up with these examples
  •   Don’t spoil or pamper them
  •   Take them to Nature    
  •  Get proper advice

 Youth violence: Contributing factors

  •  Poor parenting
  •   Drugs
  •    Poverty
  •    Hopelessness
  •    Poor environment
  • Lack of education and training
  •   Genetic tendency
"There is a void created when parents are not doing their job. That void has to be filled." - Judge WR Cunningham, Poor Parenting: Why it hurts.

A Case Study of a 16-year-old boy

The musician -- in town for a concert by Erie native Pat Monahan's band Train -- strolled along East 12th Street at about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in August.

He had just come from the Country Fair on Parade Street and was headed back to Tullio Arena.

A 16-year-old boy spotted him from his aunt's front porch, where he sat playing with a BB gun he had stolen from Walmart.

He darted from the porch.

"Hey man, hey man," he said, as he approached the musician from behind.

The musician turned to see a young man holding what looked like a handgun.

"You better empty that wallet for me, man," the youth said. The musician ran, reaching for his phone to call 911.

Moments later, police found the boy with a friend, pushing a bicycle along the street. He had shoved the gun in his friend's backpack.

The boy is only 16 but has been offered what is likely his last chance at "care, treatment and supervision" by the state juvenile justice system.

His parents, who never married, split before he was born in Erie. He has been raised by his mother and his grandmother.

When he got up off the porch to try the robbery in August, he had already been in and out of placement multiple times in the Pittsburgh area and here in Erie County.

His mother and grandmother, standing with him in court in October, want to reach him.

"I am just afraid for him," his mother tells the judge. "He is my son. I love him. I want him to do the right thing."

The boy said he wants help.

"I don't want help like people bossing me around. I want help, like, people actually talking to me," he told the judge.

The boy prefers crime, his lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Ian Murray, said.

"He does not want to go to school and get bossed around. ... The streets have got him right now. He is glorifying criminal behavior."

Brabender asked the teen what he wants for his future.

"I want to play baseball," the teen answers. When Brabender looks dubious, he said he wants to go to college.

For him to have any of that, Brabender said, he will have to, at a minimum, graduate from high school. "No drugs and alcohol," he tells him. "If you ever get a job, you need to keep it. Somebody like you, I don't know if you are going to make it or not."

"I know your family," Brabender continued. "There are a lot of good people in it. You can be a good person. You can be a criminal. It is up to you."

-- Lisa Thompson

"Children raised in poor, disadvantaged families are at greater risk for offending than children raised in relatively affluent families." -- "Child Delinquency," U.S. Department of Justice, bulletin series


"Lost kid” - is there hope?

Yes, here’s one successful case. Jose took part in a violent fight, allegedly gang-related, in which one person was killed and another injured. Although tried as an adult, he served his sentence in Juvenile Hall, and by all accounts has turned his life around. To those who worked with him, Jose represents how kids, even those charged with violent offenses, can change when given a chance. To those who worked with him, Jose represents how kids, even those charged with violent offenses, can change when given a chance.
Reference: Internet, Time