Dangerous Classes of New York

1075 Words3 Pages

“We do the same thing as y’all. ‘Cept when we do it, it’s "Oh, my God, these kids is animals!" Like it’s the end of the world comin’.” --Namond, HBO’s The Wire Young black men crowd the corners of Baltimore. They are all hard talk, hard jaws, and crisp white t-shirts as big as sails—strapped. One precocious boy witnesses a shootout near a drug lord’s stash house and takes up sticks to play guns ‘n’ robbers. His trajectory is as follows: he graduates from sticks and piss-balloons, to g-packs and real guns, to taunting cops with brown bags of excrement, to housecats and lighter fluid, to bold, cold-blooded murder. In the words of social reformer Charles Loring Brace, this boy is one of the dangerous class—an undisciplined, delinquent youth. A creation of David Simon’s for HBO’s crime drama, The Wire, the character of Kenard may be a fictionalization, but his presence adds to the much-praised realism of the series. There really are young boys like Kenard that exist on the streets of American cities—falling into the easy and familiar trap of the drug industry. The Wire makes a point to follow the tread of Baltimore’s youth throughout all of its five seasons, introducing the topic of juvenile delinquency to the considerable range of social issues the show discusses. The Wire almost flawlessly represents the factors which cause a young person to “defect”— from the failings of the city school district, a difficult home life, or the struggle of homelessness, to the surrounding environmental influences that arise from life in the city of Baltimore. However, while The Wire and its examination of causalities does many things for the discussion of Juvenile Delinquency on the whole—taking the conversation to levels no other scripted telev... ... middle of paper ... ...there are many more unsupervised children concentrated in a small area. This is when juvenile delinquency becomes a matter of class as opposed to a matter of crime. Charles Loring Brace, nineteenth century philanthropist and founder of The Children’s Aid Society, introduces the concept of the “dangerous classes” to the discussion of juvenile delinquency. In his book The Dangerous Classes of New York City, an examination of the young, poor, underclass undesirables of New York City. Brace’s Dangerous classes including vagabonds, waifs, predators, vagrants, and prostitutes. Brace introduces as new vernacular in reference to delinquents similar to that in use to this very day: “depraved,” villians, “viscious,” and “reckless.” Works Cited HBO's The Wire The Dangerous Classes of New York City by Charles Loring Brace Juvenile Delinquency by Donald J. Shoemaker

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