Staunton, January 28 – The media seeks to blame each act of youth violence in Russia on the personal problems of those who commit them, but in fact, experts say, violence among the young is a reflection of systemic problems and will continue to increase until those problems are addressed by the government and by society.
Mikhail Bely of the URA news agency has spoken with five Russian experts about the recent attacks in schools and among young people (ura.news/articles/1036273693).
“Unfortunately,” Konstantin Dolinin says, “today we see efforts to write off all these things as exceptions,” a dismissive approach that allows those in authority in schools and in society to continue to act as they have rather than to address the problems honestly and change their behavior with regard to young people.
According to him, “today we are reaping the fruits of the former chaos” in Russian life. An entire “lost generation” has appeared which “no one needs.” Indeed, many parents now view their children as burdens rather than as opportunities because they have to pay for their schooling and so on. Children, Dolinin says, feel this acutely.
Russians only began to talk about the problems of the young a year ago when young people began to take part in demonstrations. But these discussions have not led to any new ideas but rather to a repetition of the usual ones. Put more psychologists or guards in the schools, for example. But it would be just as useful to paint all schools “a rosy pink.”
Psychiatrist Aleksey Magalif says that to understand the problem, one needs to recognize that many young people who kill others do so not with that in mind but rather to call attention to themselves and their problems. At present, he says, they don’t see any other way to get others to focus on what is wrong in their lives.
A second psychiatrist, Mikhail Vinograd agrees, but he adds that the young today are “’a special generation’” because they are the first to grow up with the Internet, something that spreads bad ideas as well as good, leads many to follow others rather than live their own lives, and makes it possible for a single action to acquire international attention.
Vladimir Mukomel of the Moscow Institute of Sociology says that the Internet has combined with the closing down of opportunities for social advancement to produce depression and “a sense of one’s own irrelevance” among young people and that in turn has sparked aggressive feelings and actions.
“Today our sociology is literally shot through with hatred,” the Moscow sociologist says. “Young people cannot fail to feel that.” And unlike their elders, they may not always reflect on what will be the consequences of their actions and consequently they may choose violence as a way to personal glory.
But Vyacheslav Smirnov, the director of the Institute of Political Sociology, warns against being apocalyptic con this issue. “It always seems to us that the next generation is worse than ours. We are wonderful but they are somehow incorrect. In fact, the current generation is completely normal.”
Like its predecessors, however, “approximately 20 percent” aren’t very well adapted to life” and act out against it.