Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the lure of the bad boy

chris and i have both written recently about women volunteering and working in prisons and falling in love with inmates, often with painful consequences. a story in the miami herald this week reminded me that the lure of the bad boy starts early and runs deep.

in nikki waller's story, she reports that even as rumors swirled around their high school that three of their classmates were involved in the murder of a homeless man, "several teenage girls who knew what had happened went to the movies, hung out and traded phone messages with the boys."

the boys, billy ammons, thomas daugherty, and brian hooks, were indicted on charges of attacking and beating three homeless men, resulting in the death of norris gaynor. there is disturbing video on this case: one of the beatings -- with the perpetrators hitting the victim with baseball bats -- was caught on surveillance video and can be viewed in this news clip.

the three teenage boys are facing the possibility of life in prison; two of them could be sentenced to death, but i think that is unlikely. surprisingly, one of the surviving victims thinks the boys should receive more lenient treatment, saying on the video that the boys are too young to spend their rest of their lives in prison.

billy ammons, who was the last to be arrested, went to a movie with friends the weekend after the attacks. he told a 15-year-old friend that he would be the next to go to jail; she told police she cried but stayed silent. a 16-year-old girl told police: "we basically said, 'oh it's messed up, i can't believe they did that stuff,' and that was about it. never went into a whole discussion about it."

there are more egregious examples out there of whole communities keeping silent to protect the reputations of their golden boys, but the nonchalance of the girls in this case raises questions. is this just another case of bad boys proving irresistable and providing vicarious thrills to good girls? are today's adolescents really more jaded than those of the past?

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