April 7th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Violent teen ‘flash mobs’ confound cities

By Nova Safo, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @nova_safo

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - The city of Chicago is grappling with how to respond to a strange event on a recent weekend afternoon, when hundreds of teens suddenly took over part of the city's downtown. There were fights among the teens, a reported assault on a passerby, and other disturbances. The local media dubbed it a violent teen "flash mob."

The incident alarmed residents, and some city officials, including Alderman Brendan Reilly who represents the area where the violence occurred. Reilly quickly called for a more visible police presence, and for businesses to be able to hire off-duty police officers as private security. The alderman believes the stakes are high for Chicago:

[2:52] “We’re out there aggressively recruiting new conventions to come here to town, we’re reaching out to visitors around the world, marketing this beautiful, great, safe city. But that’s harder to do, when you have negative headlines suggesting that it may not be safe to be in the central core.”

But simply adding more police may not be a complete solution, based on recent research co-authored by Brian Houston, who is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Missouri.

His research was conducted after violent episodes of mass teen gatherings in Kansas City. And the solutions he came up with are being adopted by the city, with encouraging signs that it may be working.

To find out the details of Houston’s research, learn more about the teen ‘flash mob’ phenomenon, and what can be done about it, please listen to our story above.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.

Posted by ,
Filed under: Behavior • Culture • Soundwaves • Stories
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. StalinsWillingExecutioner

    Violent "teen" flash mobs "confound" cities? IThis should read, "Political Correctness has made people stupid."

    Who are these so-called "teens"? What is their race? What is their culture? What are they being taught in schools? Are their Community Organizers helping them form up a so-called "flash mob"?

    There was a time when Journalists would give us information. There was a time when we'd have SOME details on the "who" of the story. We're supposed to be living in an "Information Age" so where's the f'king information?

    April 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RBCarter

    These incidents are group criminal activities, not flash mobs. Real flash mobs are not crimes: http://bit.ly/GSMyqd.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ray Napper

    Our teens down here in Sebring did something like that last week. They called it a "cash" mob. The idea was to help the local economy and the small businesses with not only cash but an extra sized helping of pride in our youth. I find it sad that you will probably know that pride.

    April 8, 2013 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. kim

    guys it's really not that complicated. kids nowadays are more careless and violent than past generations. the culture is just more careless. not many fear their parents, social media is flooded with violent videos of beatings and other horrible sights. i'm 27, my generation was on the cusp of what is happening now. the fact is that a lot of kids are asses. they don't fight for their future in large numbers they don't fight for freedom. they just fight then they film it.

    April 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. State of Emergency

    Watch this video to see why the youth act such a way. ITS THE MUSIC THEY LISTEN TO! THIS MUSIC SHOULD BE BANNED


    April 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bustedNdisgusted

    I hear Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country and coincidentally the highest murder rate for what.... 5 years or so now?

    Seriously though, businesses in these crap-hole cities and states that are asphyxiating growth need to leave and relocate to more business friendly states.

    April 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bruce

    Aw c'mon. Every generation of youth has it tough. No good jobs, school is expensive, etc.
    Stop making excuses for bad behavior, brought on by bad parenting.

    April 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grover

      Bruce, I beg to differ as to your accusation to bad parenting. I grew up in New York City and I knew several young adults that had great parenting and went the wrong way. The people whom you choose to associate with shape you more than parents do. My mother always told me that "Your associates are you" and she, [my Mom] was fortunate enough to be home to help shield me from "undesirables". There are may children whom were the product of broken households, alcoholics and drug addicted parents whom survived that lifestyle to become productive members of society. The real problem is that we have sheltered our children and now not even birth parent can discipline their children as I was with a belt. I am so glad that my parents whipped my butt because I know that I was on the edge of becoming an "undesirable". Young people do not respect elders anymore and from a young age they know they cannot be disciplined and if they are they can call the cops and have anyone arrested including their parents. What happened to respect to those older than you? Children don't call their Aunts "Aunt" nor do they call their Uncles "Uncle" anymore.

      April 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • State of Emergency

        If you want to see why the children act like this, watch this video. Its self explanotary. Rap is teaching the children to murder


        April 7, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lawrence Monaco

    "Confounding"??? What the hell do you expect? Kids are broke because their parents are broke. Life savings are gone, jobs are gone, homes are gone, salaries are gone, teens are stressed and frustrated because their parents are! Do I condone it? No, of course not! But I understand it. As a parent myself, I can't provide and do for my own because I've been out of work FOREVER! Then you have kids who if they can get to and through college to earn a 4 year degree in 6 years, saddled with un-payable debt and student loans, lucky, if they can even find a minimum wage job at what now? McDonalds requiring cashiers to have a Bachelors Degree? Confounding? It's not Rocket Science!

    April 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • tony k

      No excuse, because when they get locked up,things will be worse

      April 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Your kids are losers because you're a loser, Larry. Plenty of jobs out there if you're either willing to do physical labor or have a useful degree. Always demand for STEM majors.

      April 7, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • steve

        that is not necessarily true. sometimes you can be overqualified for a job and wont be hired as they think you will be frustrated with stepping backwards when they can train a young person for less money. calling somebody a loser seems to show your insecurities also

        April 7, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
        • bustedNdisgusted

          I agree, Larry is a loser and you're a whiner. Calling someone a loser doesn't show insecurities, if you're bad at life, then it deserves to be pointed out.

          April 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
        • StalinsWillingExecutioner

          Calling someone a "loser" is just what the doctor ordered.

          No one ordered some d-bag, Liberal Hippy who thinks he's a pop psychologist blathering on about "insecurities."

          BTW, you're a L-O-S-E-R

          April 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Melissa

    Stupid... don't they have a life ???? If not .. it seems they need to get one w/ better things to do !!!

    April 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. A

    Chicago needs to give a hand to the south side, too. It's gone hell. Those underprivileged blacks needs to understand that they cannot attack tourists because they are angry that they have nothing.

    April 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cornelius H. Pfeil

    When asked the question: "What could these youngsters be so aggrevated about?",
    which 6-7 reasons would accur to you, spontainiously, I womder...

    April 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • StalinsWillingExecutioner

      The saddest part about your post is it's obvious that English is your only language and you're illiterate. When you're an incompetent don't try to defend degenerates. No one has any "right" to attack a stranger, and that's what you're defending. Of course, you're illiterate so you probably have no clue.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Linda

    I think Police presences is still important . Time for some to walk the streets noticeably armed . These young people need to understand the authorities are serious .

    April 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mssimmons

    I feel they have been in mental anguish there friends are being killed and everyone is not doing all they can to stop these killings I think there is a terroist cell in Chicago,2000 youths killed in the last two years wake up and send in some navy seals under cover

    April 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      "Everyone is not doing all they can to stop these killings..." Including the people who live in the neighborhoods who refuse to cooperate with police so as not to look like "snitches". It will take a lot of courage but if they want their lives to improve, they need to be part of the solution.

      April 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
      • rick

        its not that they don't want to look like snitches. its that they don't want to be the next victim because they said "him right there, he did it." Cops don't really follow up on good samaritans, they come in arrest the bad guy and leave. then the good guy gets left in the same bad neighborhood with all the bad guys friends.

        April 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
        • StalinsWillingExecutioner

          Blame the cops, then wonder why they don't give a crap about you.

          For up "Activist" groups to blame the cops, then wonder why they don't give a crap about you.

          Use political activism to free convicted murderers, rapists, and drug deals, then wonder why the cops don't give a crap about you.

          You planted the seeds, not live in the jungle.

          April 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |