This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 10, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: It comes at a time in this country when we are focused on school violence. It happens all too often. And images like this become all too common. And issues like this become all too riveting.
This is something that no less than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been looking into, very much aware of terror abroad, but he has also focused on this very network on violence within, and particularly with gangs. Now, this had nothing, of course, to do with gangs in this case. But this undercurrent of violence in our nation is something that Newt has been paying very close attention to, and, I might add, before most folks really were putting these dots together.
Newt, good to have you. Thanks for coming.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's good to be with you.
CAVUTO: Let's talk a little bit about the issue here of how much we protect ourselves, how much we should? Is there a limit to what we can do? If there's a madman or a mad young boy who is intent on doing some harm, can any amount of money, protection stop it?
GINGRICH: Well, look, I think there are three different things going on. And we ought to deal with all three.
One is the person who genuinely is unbalanced. I think that was clearly the case at Virginia Tech. We don't know yet about what happened with this person. But the person at Virginia Tech, for example, was actually protected by the law against authorities being informed that he was dangerous, even though he was clearly giving every signal that he was dangerous.
GINGRICH: So, one, you have got to rethink the balance between individual privacy and protecting the community. And you have got to have a more effective way of dealing with people who have genuine mental problems.
CAVUTO: So, in other words, if we had known more about this...
CAVUTO: ... has problems, we probably would have been able to do more.
GINGRICH: Look, there is no question, if we had understood and — everything that was available about the tragedy in Virginia Tech, it probably would not have happened, and he probably would be in a very different place today.
We don't know about this case. But the fact that this person already had convictions for violence indicates that there was something going on that is personal. So, the first box is kind of people who have a genuine mental problem that need a more effective and more aggressive program of helping people who have those kind of challenges. The second box are predators. When you looked at the killings in Newark of the college students, those were predatory behaviors. When you look at Philadelphia, which is the most...
CAVUTO: In other words, they were targets.
GINGRICH: They were targets.
CAVUTO: Those are no accidental, random...
GINGRICH: Yes. And we don't use the right language.
Somebody who walks up to kill you is a predator. Somebody who kills you for the purpose of taking your money is a predator. Philadelphia, which has been the most lax city — the judges is Philadelphia are so unwilling to lock up violent — violent criminals, that the district attorney has actually said there's no point in arresting them, because the judges won't put them in jail.
Philadelphia has suffered 3,000 murders since 1988, just in that one city. And, so, we really have a problem of predatory behavior, where we tolerate levels of violence we shouldn't be tolerating.
And some of this, by the way — and then the third point I want to make is about the culture. We have created this weird adolescent culture. We saw it — I saw it last night on FOX, film of girls beating up a girl on a playground in a way that would have been unthinkable when you and I were young.
We have tolerated the growth, whether it's on MTV or it's in a variety of other sources. We have tolerated a language. We have tolerated a kind of rap music. All of these things have been a coarsening, degrading process of saying to people, it is OK to ignore authority. It's OK to be brutal. It's OK to do really bad things.
And I think we have got to really come to grips at some point that trapping children, trapping young people into those kind of cultural settings, has consequences that are very bad for the society.
And I think it is much more than just, how do you reimpose discipline, but what is there that is going on with younger Americans that leads to these kind of behaviors? And I am, frankly, as disturbed by the scene of five or six girls behaving in a stunningly aggressive, predatory manner, beating up a girl on a playground, as I am by the story from Cleveland, which is more tragic, because it involves death.
But it's part of this same underlying pattern of a growth of youth violence in a way that is very dangerous for America as a country.
CAVUTO: But you're saying not addressing the cause. We are addressing the effect, right?
CAVUTO: I mean, in the case of a lot of schools — even this school apparently had a security budget. They had guards there. I don't believe they had metal detectors, but they had guards there. And a lot of schools don't even have that.
I notice in a lot of schools today, high schools and colleges, Newt, where they have got security fees they charge parents. So — and what parent is going to deny that? But you're saying that is only tackling part of the problem, right?
GINGRICH: Yes. There is something much deeper going on. I was very struck. I was in a meeting in Saint Louis with two colleges. And both colleges said in the same meeting they had a substantial number of freshmen and sophomores who were cutting themselves.
Now, this is a psychological reaction to a level of pain. They're in such psychological pain that cutting themselves with razor seemed a reasonable behavior.
And I was thinking to myself, I mean, what is happening to us when you have — you have obesity among 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds, leading to teenage diabetes, you have gangs of girls beating up another girl, you have young kids going to college who are cutting themselves psychologically? In small-town America, you have a methamphetamine epidemic that is a very dramatic spread of methamphetamine over the last few years in rural America.
There is something in the way we treat young adults that has to be fundamentally rethought if we are going to get this country back to stability.
CAVUTO: Well, you know what a lot of people say, Newt? And I know you had entertained running for president or not. But one of the big issues here was, the future has to address the fact that we are a particularly violent society, that America is.
Do you agree with that?