Boredom seemed to be the main driver behind the mayhem last summer at a popular Kansas City shopping district, according to a new study of what led the large group of teens to turn violent.
Teens, reached in focus groups and by surveys, said they used online social media to coordinate plans to meet up. And while the gatherings might be large, they did not need to be violent. A lack of things to do can make events take a turn for the worse.
As one focus group participant said: "We give ‘em something to do or this is what happens when you get a group of kids together and they’re bored, they get creative and destructive, and that’s what it is like, it was boredom and destruction."
Last summer, three youths were shot at Kansas City's Country Club Plaza as hundreds of teens milled about, having gathered in a flash mob. City officials were alarmed. The new study focused on this incident.
In April, St. Louis got its own taste of flash-mob violence. More than 300 young people, coordinating by social media, converged on the Delmar Loop. Two people were shot.
The study, released Tuesday, was conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas and University of Missouri-Columbia.
The study recommended the development of alternative activities for young people. It also urged authorities to develop social media strategies for engaging with young people and for encouraging "good flash mobs."