The Superpredator Scare
In 1995, John DiIulio, Jr., then a Princeton professor, coined a phrase that seemed to sum up the nation’s fear of teen violence: “superpredator.” In the previous decade, teenage crime rates had exploded. Television news led with story after story of seemingly incomprehensible violence committed by children as young as 10. Many criminologists feared the trend would continue, and DiIulio warned that hundreds of thousands of remorseless teen predators were just over the horizon.
The “superpredator” caught the attention of reporters and politicians, some of whom used it to push for the continued overhaul of a juvenile justice system they considered too lenient. By the end of the 1990s, nearly every state had passed laws to make it easier to try juveniles in adult courts or to increase penalties for violent juvenile crimes.
But what happened to the “superpredators” of the 1990s? And what’s changed since in how the nation deals with youth crime?
More Like This
How Social Media Has Turned Us Into Digital Bystanders
Live-streaming apps like Facebook Live and Periscope give us a voyeuristic peek into the lives of others. But what is our obligation when we encounter digital violence?
More than 50 years after Kitty Genovese's murder became a symbol of urban apathy, her partner, Mary Ann Zielonko remembers Kitty's life and impact.
How ISIS Resembles the Doomsday Cults of the 1970s
Can the lessons we learned from extremist cults decades ago be used to fight ISIS recruitment today?
Sisters Search for Lost Brother Separated by Argentine Dictatorship
Flavia Battistiol has turned to social media in hopes of being reunited with the sibling who disappeared in 1977, when the military junta ruled Argentina.