The word “affluenza” crept into our daily language this week when a Texas judge who in the past had sentenced a poor black youth to 10 years in prison for punching a person who fell and hit his head—killing him, presumably unintentionally—gave a much more lenient sentence to a rich kid: no prison time, but 10 years of court supervision, isolation from his parents, and long term treatment at a hoity-toity treatment facility on his parents’ tab.
Wealth has never had a stigma in the affluent suburbs of Fort Worth, where the town of Westlake lanfded, to no one’s surprise, on Forbes’ list of America’s most affluent neighborhoods last year with a median income of $250,000.
But in recent days, the implications of being rich have set off an emotional, angry debate that has stretched far beyond the North Texas suburbs, after a juvenile court judge sentenced a 16-year-old from a well-off family to 10 years’ probation for killing four people in a drunken-driving crash.
The judge, Jean Boyd, on Tuesday declined to give the teenager, Ethan Couch, the punishment sought by Tarrant County prosecutors — 20 years in prison — and instead ordered him to be placed in a long-term treatment facility while on probation. Judge Boyd did not discuss her reasoning for her order, but it came after a psychologist called by the defense argued that Mr. Couch should not be sent to prison because he suffered from “affluenza” — a term that dates at least to the 1980s to describe the psychological problems that can afflict children of privilege. (source)
It occurred to me this morning, which follows the most recent school shooting (which is in Colorado again), that these shootings don’t seem to ever be done in inner city schools carried out by a child of poverty.
Short of keeping everyone poor in the interest of preventing school shootings, and granting that most of the school shooters haven't been fabulously rich, what do you imagine accounts for this linkage between having an okay or financially secure life and wanting to do mass murder followed by suicide?
Bullying gets lots of blame, but surely bullying exists in inner city schools in poverty-struck neighborhoods, too.
For once, I’m not providing the answer, I’m soliciting speculation.