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A Child Is Not An Alibi

Our Naples-based Dottoré reflects on the small-time criminals who come to her for therapy, and the family excuse for their lives of crime.

The silhouette of a little girl going down the stairs at a historical monument in Naples.

A little girl's silhouette at a historical monument.

Carmen Laezza/Unsplash
Mariateresa Fichele

When I talk to a small-time criminal (a real mobster couldn't care less about justifying himself), and I ask him, a bit naively and a bit provocatively, why he deals drugs, the classic response is: "Dottoré, there’s nothing else I can do. I have children to feed."

It's a justification that catches you off guard the first time you hear it, but over time, you begin to reflect on it.

Did anyone force you to have these children? In the past, the poor, the working class, needed to have children to ensure a labor force. Today, in Naples, people have children to provide themselves with an alibi for a life of crime when they can't find legitimate work.

It doesn't really matter how these kids are raised. You see them in groups on their brand new electric scooters at two or three in the morning, riding around the streets.

They scare you because they're unpredictable, but at the same time, you look at them and realize they're just children. Then, compassion and dismay kick in, and you wonder how the parents can stay home peacefully while their kids are out on the streets at night.

You try approaching one and ask, "Aren't you going to school tomorrow?" You get insults and mockery in return. "What school?" You realize you've asked a pointless question.

These kids won't be going to school tomorrow because no one will wake them up. Their parents will be sleeping. Mom spent the night gambling, and Dad is out peddling death.

But during the day, they are wide awake. And heaven help you if you mess with their kids. I once saw two police officers stop three girls on a scooter. Shortly afterward, the mother arrived, accompanied by her sisters. They were there to start a fight. Not with their daughters, but with the police.

Yes, Naples has a problem.

Actually, we have many problems.

I don't have the solution. But I wish people would talk about it, for the sake of the children and out of respect for those who are trying to do something, like the community center they set up in the Miracoli neighborhood.

Brave teachers, educators, and volunteers, wonderful people who give it their all every day. But they operate in complete absence of support from the authorities, who either do nothing or divert attention elsewhere. Then, they pretend to discuss it when something dramatic happens that catches the public's attention. They won't do anything.

Yes, Naples has a problem.

I don't have the solution.

I just know that we need to act quickly. In this city, a 16-year-old is already an adult.

An adult who “has children at home."


Learn more about Worldcrunch's exclusive Dottoré! series here.

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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