Scotty's post today made me think of this, though his topic was far darker and far more disturbing.
I find it fascinating that the basic truths of our society are often played out in the animal kingdom as well. It reflects the simple fact that children of all species need their parents and the boundaries for behavior that they provide.
Juvenile Delinquency Among the Elephants
I also find it interesting that this fact extends to all social species, especially those closely related to humans.
Several years ago, I lived in Branson Missouri not far from an animal park run by irresponsible people who allowed their Macaques (Snow Monkeys) to run loose throughout the park. Their territory included the area around the visitor's center. On my one visit to the park a young male parked himself on the sidewalk in front of me and wouldn't let me pass--in fact he charged me, teeth bared, snarling and only backed down when I retreated. Satisfied that he'd proven his dominance, he went on to terrorize other customers until an employeed finally came out and chased him away. I also observed a group of males terrorizing an african swan; they had it cornered and were the process of trying to pull out its feathers when I walked by. Being me, I yelled at them and they all ran away. At the time, I told my husband that this had the recipe for disaster written all over it.
Shortly after that, the locals began suffering from strange break ins. They would return from work or vacations and find their homes in shambles--furniture turned over and torn up, windows broken, children's toys smashed, cabinets and refrigerators emptied out onto the floor--some food eaten, most wasted. Cars were destroyed; roofs completely smashed, windows broken. The culprits turned out to be a band of juvenile macaques who'd found a hole in the cheap, unguarded, unelectric park fence. After doing thousands of dollars worth of damage to property, their behaviors escalated to chasing people across their yards and killing cats and dogs. The rampage lasted for weeks, because they were also smart and knew how and where to hide (they would retreat to the park and hide in the trees). The local authorities and the park owners had to destroy most of them. The biggest problem (outside of the obvious?) they were without enough real problems in an unnatural situation combined with raging hormones, with nothing to keep them in check--not predators, not fear of man, not older dominant males, or other groups of apes.
Every time I read a horrible story like the one Scotty posted, I'm reminded of this group and it reminds me of how out of balance our society is and how often our juvenile delinquents are in the same situation. They have no sense of purpose and far too much time on their hands and are in an unnatural situation combined with raging hormones.
As a society, we perpetuate our own problems with "feel good" warm fuzzy parenting (taught to us by people who often have no children of their own). We are too busy or too preoccupied to pay attention to our children's real need for consistent discipline and postive relationships with us. They don't need "positive role models" as put forth by society as much as they need undivided parents (I don't mean un-divorced--I mean parents who aren't so caught up in other things that they're missing what's going on with their children).
We've gotten so smart as a species, you'd think that we'd be able to spot the problem in our society and repair it, one family at a time. The question is: how much are we willing to sacrifice?