I promised to keep you up to date on the so-called "Knock Out King" assaults. A 7th person is now in custody from the incident I came upon on South Grand. The district captain has smartly redeployed his officers and rearranged his patrols. Law enforcement has been swift and efficient up to this point.
Police Chief Dan Isom has been to Roosevelt High School to talk to a school assembly about the incidents. He and Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce are planning a similar appearance at Fanning Middle Schools, where many of the juveniles alleged to be involved in the assault are enrolled.
Chief Isom described his conversation with the students as serious and frank. He reported that he had taken a positive approach, appealing to their sense of responsibility, asking them to put members of their own family in the place of those who had been assaulted, sympathizing with them that it is hard to tell on someone else, that even police officers don't like to call out their own peers, but on things as important as this it is the right thing to do.
There was some talk of showing the students photographic images of severe injuries caused by trauma. Chief Isom opposed the idea as something that may not be age appropriate and that in any case should involve parent permission. St. Louis Medical Examiner Michael Graham concurred. He said he hasn't seen data or other evidence that shows that this kind of "shock" strategy is an effective way to change behavior.
Dr. Graham made this suggestion: Teenagers may respond better to doctors in ways they would not respond to a police officer. An emergency room physician could explain what it's like to treat someone who has suffered closed head injury after a fall, for example, and how it's not like what the kids see on TV. A neurologist who treats people with irreversible brain injury caused by trauma could describe in compelling terms what life is like for these patients in nursing homes.
I do not have an opinion on the photograph vs. word picture choice. A picture is less graphic than the actual carnage witnessed by the perpetrators ' and no worse than an image that could be found on a school library computer. But, an explanation might be more appropriate in a school setting. Whatever prop they choose, the actions of the chief and the prosecutor are useful and welcome.