Monster by Walter Dean Myers is a story about Steve Harmon, a teenage boy, who is on trial and juvenile detention. The story relates to our lives today in a way that it touches on social problems, especially crime. In the community many people are poor, and the ethnic and racial minorities resort to a life of crime. Steve is not an exception because he did not come from a high-class community. In Steves case, the community provides him with the opportunity to be involved in crimes like drug dealing, murder, and robbery. In todays society, people feel the need to conform. Most teenagers and young adults indulge in crime because of the need to make quick money. Today, crime rates are higher in neighborhoods that have poor structural motilities. Even so, in such neighborhoods, people who do not indulge in crime know that due to the color of their skin, it might be difficult for law enforcement to believe them that live a crime-free life. Nowadays, many African-Americans fear for their lives because law enforcement is unable to believe or help them when they are in need of assistance. Similarly, African-American parents raise their kids to stay away from the streets because once they are caught at the wrong place where crime is high, chances are they will go to prison.
Lessons can be learned from the reading of the book. First, teenagers should desist from peer pressure. In the book, Steve talks about how Freddy and Cruz bully him by implying that he is not tough enough to be part of their group. More so, another instance of peer pressure is evident when King asks Steve if he has the heart to follow through and get paid. Beyond doubt, most teenagers spend time with their peers compared to their families. Therefore, teenagers should learn to spend time with people who create a positive impact on their lives. In essence, when teenagers go through peer pressure, their lives can be destroyed due to bad influence. The second lesson learned from the book is that teenager should avoid hanging out with the wrong crowd. Bad friends who do not follow the law can cause a person to be in trouble because he or she was part of that group.
Some things that occurred in the book still go on today. For instance, Steve, being young and black, is already guilty in the eyes of the jury. In the book, Steve faces racial discrimination in law enforcement. Currently, African-Americans continue to face discrimination within the criminal justice system. Furthermore, another ongoing issue today, which is discussed in Monster, is the violence within the prison system. In the book, some instances, which depict horror, include the part where Steve says that someone was hit in the head with a tray during breakfast and the rape of a prisoner during Sunday church service. In todays prisons, violence continues to be a primary threat. A large number of prisoners end up wounded or dead due to the violence that occurs in the prison system. Another issue discussed in the book, that goes on today is lack of evidence during a criminal investigation. When Williams and Briggs question Detective Karyl, he affirms that he would like to see Steve, a teenager tried as an adult, and that he tampered with the investigation. Today, many prisoners have ended up being exonerated due to lack of sufficient evidence or tampering with evidence. Moreover, most teenagers get tried as adults because of the statutes in different states.
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