Pondering the unruly teens


The brawl that spilled onto the Metro Friday night was scary. And frequent Metro users or visitors to Chinatown will have had at least one front row seat to general teen unruliness.

Typical teenagers, right? Kids brawl on the Metro or drive drunk in the suburbs; teenagers do stupid things. I once witnessed maybe 30 crazy kids on the Red Line who were loudly and obnoxiously play fighting. It was uncomfortable but I never felt unsafe; in the situation that left Chris Davis with a broken shin, I would have.

But this lady who had been at a Kennedy Center event goes overboard in the Post story:

“Metro is very accessible but not safe all the time. I don’t know if I would ride it again in non-rush hours.”

Similarly, someone I know refuses to use Metro at night because she thinks it is unsafe to be alone. The sliding doors don’t close that fast. The majority of these instances usually offer perceived danger; a brawl in a fast-moving space is scary but uncommon. Could it be that some riders are just afraid of those different than them?

When I was back in Zoo England last weekend I saw a pack of teenagers hiding in my neighbors’ lawn. Did it scare me? No. Would it scare some people? Probably. Does that mean my neighbors’ lawn is unsafe?

The personal experience of being in a violent incident will force people to think illogically, understandably so. Those in last year’s Metro crash will think the system is more dangerous than those who weren’t there. Someone with a relative killed in a car crash may think twice about driving.

If you you flip a coin 10 times and each flip comes up “tails,” does that mean the drought of “heads” ensures the next one will be “heads?” If you happen to see something awful on the Metro, does that make the Metro unsafe?

A lot of life is random and unavoidable. I don’t know how many cops it would take to prevent a brawl from EVER occurring again, but I am sure the number wouldn’t make fiscal sense. There will be another fight on the Metro, there will be another car crash on the Beltway and there will be another downed plane.

Our species has too high an error rate to avoid failure. But it’s important to separate outliers from the norm. This brawl, until a trend forms, is the former, not the latter.

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2 Responses to Pondering the unruly teens

  1. carsonata says:

    Reasonable and well-considered thoughts about how we draw our opinions about so-called risky situations. We use, often subconsiously, our own experience to judge whether a place, time or person is “safe.” Still, a broken shin sounds unfairly painful for any poor soul…

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