Congregational testimony, academic research,
articles, books, papers and reports on links between
violence in the media, computer games, and youth
violence are available from the Mediascope
Media. (818) 508-2080. click
Mothers Against Violence, a Seattle-based
organization devoted to reducing violence among
children. (800) 897-7697. click
Violence Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based
gun control research organization. click
The Joseph Matteucci Foundation for Youth
Non-Violence offers training for young people
to participate and run their own violence-mediation
programs in schools. (510) 889-7451. click
YouthPeace a New York-based organization
of young people that is part of the War Resisters
League and sees a link between military violence
around the world and violence at home. (800) 975-9688.
Teens, Crime, and the Community, created
by the National Crime Prevention Council, provides
a learning kit and strategies for crime prevention
in neighborhoods. (202) 261-4161. click
The Omega Boys Club of San Francisco holds
violence prevention workshops using films, video
clips, books, and audio tapes. (800) 765-3437.
Asian Community Mental Health Services
of Oakland, CA specializes in violent-prevention
and provides mental health services in 14 Asian
languages. (510) 451-6729. click
Barrios Unidos does gang prevention and
intervention with San Francisco area Latino youth.
(650) 373-1088. click
Warning Signs For Violence
It's impossible to predict which young people
will turn violent, but certain behaviors have
been identified as risk factors. Parents should
consider it a warning sign if a child:
- Displays cruelty to animals.
- Prefers reading materials and entertainment
that express violent themes. Reflects anger,
frustration, and the dark side of life in school
essays or in art work.
- Has a history of uncontrollable, angry outbursts.
- Has threatened suicide.
- Has a sudden change in appearance or in behavior,
such as sleeping excessively or becoming cut
off from longtime friends.
- These signs define many of our youth today,
but don't get paranoid; most young people who
dress different and go through a loner phase
will never resort to violence. The key is to
communicate with children and get help.
- Don't ignore the signs. If children are allowed
to get away with cursing parents or teachers
without a response, they will move to more violent
acts. Parents and teachers should adopt a "zero-tolerance"
approach, humble yourselves, pray, and ask for
help from clergymen and professionals.
Assaults on U.S. Schools
Recent shootings involving U.S. schools:
Oct. 1, 1997 Pearl, MI
Sixteen-year-old boy kills mother and shoots
nine students, two fatally.
4. April 24, 1998 Edinboro, PA A science teacher
is shot to death in front of students at an
eighth grade graduation dance. A 14-year old
student awaits trial.
6. May 21, 1998 Springfield, OR A 15-year-old
boy allegedly opened fire at high school,
killing two and injuring more that 20. His
parents are found slain at their home.
2. Dec. 1st, 1997 West Paducah, KY Three students
are killed and five others wounded by 14-year-old
5. May 19, 1998 Fayetteville, TN
An 18-year-old honor student allegedly opens
fire in parking lot at high school, killing
a classmate who was dating his ex-girlfriend.
April 20, 1999 Columbine, H.S. Littleton,
CO Young men dressed in trench coats open
fire on students. 13 killed, 2 gunmen committed
March 24, 1998 Jonesboro, AR Four girls and
a teacher are shot to death and 10 people
wounded when two boys, 11 and 13, open fire
after setting off a false fire alarm at a
8. May 20, 1999 Conyers, GA A student wounded
six other students.
Ways To Prevent School Violence
- Schools broadcast
a "lock-in code" that tell teachers
and maintenance personnel to immediately lock
- Identify students
who may be at-risk for violence, provide counseling
and support services, and offering in-class
training in violence prevention, especially
warning signs that are sent before children
- Teachers, administrators,
and parents need to work towards developing
an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable
telling somebody in authority when they fear
that a fellow student may be headed for violent
- School tip lines
[to report potentially dangerous students] be
implemented across the country.
- Schools develop
closer working partnerships with law enforcement,
developing school crisis plans, and handling
threats much more serious.
- Alternative schools
developed to handle disruptive students at the
elementary school level.
- Develop countrywide
programs that involve local health, law enforcement,
and religious components as well as educators.
- Conflict resolution
that deals directly with managing anger and
resolving conflicts must begin in kindergarten.
- Train students
to mediate disputes before they escalate to
school yard fights or worse.
- The age-old problem
of bullying, hazing, and harassment should be
directly addressed in preventing violence.
- Hard looks, stare
downs, mad-dogging, and mean-mugging should
be added as actionable offenses to the student
code of conduct.
- Reach out to
our children and teach them to express their
anger and to resolve their conflicts with words,
Who & What People Blame
- Parents and teachers
simply not aware of what is going on at home
and within school walls.
with weapons and explosives.
- Gun control advocates
place blame on the easy availability of guns.
The Internet has become an easy channel for
illegally obtaining weapons. A search for "gun
dealers" on Internet search engines returns
anywhere from 8,000 to more than 3 million Web
- Homemade bomb
plans are readily available on the Internet
and elsewhere, and their ingredients are easily
obtainable at hardware stores or at firework
stands. Kids who rub shoulders with an online
subculture of racism and terrorism plays a role.
- A softening of
the nation's moral fiber as well as a lack of
- Video fantasy
games and movies for inspiring violent acts.
For instance, the video games "Doom"
and "Duke Nukem 3D" and the glorification
of violence by the makers of the film The Basketball
Diaries in which the main character (played
by Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams about shooting
his teachers and classmates. Researchers find
that children who spend more time watching violent
television behave more aggressively, and that
murderous video games -- the kind where you
win by killing targets -- affects players.
- Children spend
more time watching TV than they spend in the
classroom. The typical child will have watched
100,000 graphic portrayals of violence, including
8,000 murders, by the time he or she finishes
the sixth grade.
- A wall between
church and state that has grown so high. A decline
in the influence of religion in America -- especially
in public schools. It is said that, "People
who pray together are not likely to kill one
- Racial hatred
as an expression of white-supremacist thinking.
- Hate Internet
sites are linked to gun-toting teenagers. There
are 1,500 "problematic sites," including
several hundred "extremist" sites
preaching hate and race baiting. Many violent
kids are Internet-savvy, with insatiable appetites
for skinhead music, terrorism and the Aryan
nation, advocating anti-Semitism, wearing swastikas
and Holocaust denial. These sites target kids
and teenagers using cartoon characters, puzzles,
and "educational tutorials" to espouse
white power. The deadliest violence took place
on Hitler's 110th birthday.
- The rise of violence-prone
neo-Nazism and it's idea of the extreme individual
-- the whole Nietzsche superhuman idea, whereas
some like [rock singer] Marilyn Manson use that
to shock and to sell albums, there are some
in the movement who take it seriously and seek
to act out their culture.
- Neo-Nazism organizers
have targeted very specifically the broad aspects
of what is called "Extreme Music,"
including the king of "Black Metal,"
"Death Metal," and other kinds of
music apparently favored by some young people
who adopt the "Gothic" lifestyle and
- The Gothic look
and mannerisms of children trying on different
identities, sometimes in succession, other times
simultaneously. The morbid "Gothic"
persona was born in the late '70s as an off-shoot
of punk rock and inspired by ages old Gothic
literature. Goths tend to consider Halloween
their own Christmas, and life as a vampire an
absolutely viable option. The Goth scene revolves
around dark, dramatic fashion -- like capes
and black vinyl pants -- and, especially, ethereal,
moody, occult and satanic music. These kids
enjoy deadly role-playing games or listening
to violent music.
- Revenge, resentments,
and jealousies - Male athletes, tall, muscular
and radiating confidence and authority in their
Abercrombie shirts and jeans, tease and make
fun of social outcasts saying, "Why do
you dress like that, you freaks?" One of
the young killers said, "I'm sick of being
made fun of." "The athletes and stuff
are really popular...they make fun of me all
the time," one young person said. Some
boys get sick of it and decide not to take it
- Doomsday thinking
expect a showdown between 'us' and 'them,"
and think that time is running out, and decide
they might as well take preventive action or
seek revenge before it is too late. For instance,
one observer said, "The Trench Coat Mafia"
in Colorado seems to have cobbled together an
eclectic world view from bits and pieces from
multiple apocalyptic genre such as Nostradamus:
youth culture Gothic rituals, death talking,
reading, dreaming, and symbols, violent computer
games, neo-Nazi lore, anarchist musical genre.
The result was a type of apocalyptic nihilism.
They acted out their beliefs."
- An "uncivil"
society that encourages ridicule and cynicism
in life and in art, poetry, music and costumes
of a scene that ranges from benign fantasy to
violent reality. Some simply dress and paint
their fingernails black while others immerse
themselves in a pseudo medieval world of dark
What The Experts Say . . .
Experts and researchers
are increasingly convinced there is a solid link
between TV and other media violence, and the violence
of the nations' youth.
The American Psychiatric
Association says, "For the last three decades,
the one predominant finding in research on the
mass media is the exposure to media portrayals
of violent increased aggressive behavior in children."
While favoring TV ratings and media skills training
for children, the American Psychiatric Association
has concluded nothing is more critical than parents'
involvement in their kids' viewing habits.
The health group
says parents may be underestimating the extent
to which researchers have defined the connection
between media violence and actual violence by
children, and the ways in which video games and
the Internet are accentuating the threat.
A 1998 study by
the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media
and the Family found that the average American
youth watches 25 hours a week and plays computer
games another seven hours. Children with Internet
access spend an additional four hours weekly,
the survey found.
By age 18, according
to the American Psychiatric Association, an American
child will have seen 16,000 simulated murders
and 200,000 acts of violence.
According to the
American Academy of Pediatrics, media violence
may cause aggressive and antisocial behavior,
desensitize viewers to future violence and increase
perceptions that they are living "in a mean
and dangerous world." The cause-and-effect
relationship between media violence and actual
violence "is undeniable and uncontestable,"
the group says.
Experts say the
problem can cause lasting trouble for pre-adolescents.
Children under age 8 "...cannot uniformly
discriminate between real life and fantasy/entertainment,"
said the pediatrics group. "They quickly
learn that violence is an acceptable solution
to resolving even complex problems, particularly
if the aggressor is the hero."
Health care groups
say wise parents will spend extensive time monitoring
their children's TV, movie and computer habits,
and will talk with them about what they're seeing.
In 1996, the American
medical Association published a guide for parents
intent on limiting the media's influence on their
children. Among their recommendations.
- Limit television
use to one to two hours per day. Keep the TV
off during mealtimes and out of children's bedrooms.
- Don't use TV,
videos or video games as a babysitter; set a
good example by limiting your own TV viewing.
- Watch what your
children are watching and talk about the program
while its on.
- Study up on movies
that are playing and videos available for rental
or purchase. Be explicit with children about
But some experts
worry that all of parents best efforts may not
"In case after
case I've observed just how easily the lessons
of well-meaning and capable parents are overpowered
by the compelling and pervasive messages of violence
in our modern video culture," said University
of Virginia professor Dewey Cornell.
In testimony to
Congress, Cornell said he was horrified by the
recent school slayings.
into a building and try to kill as many people
as possible is an enactment of video violence."
he said. "We protect adults from consumer
fraud and deceptive advertising better than we
protect our children from these salesmen of hate
Who's Really Responsible?
Helen Smith, a forensic
psychologist in Knoxville, TN, who has worked
with thousands of troubled youth says, "What
I have found so far is that there as many reasons
as there are killers."
Dr. Smith rejects
the "bad seed" theory that some propound
-- the notion that such young people are "no
darn good." But she says, "The truth
is that teens who kill -- in school settings or
elsewhere -- are already deeply disturbed individuals
who are easily set over the edge.
have us believe that if we can pass new and better
laws, we can cut down on juvenile crime. But this
is not the case. The best protection against school
violence is to be found in caring, hands-on teachers
and responsible, involved parents. You can't get
those by legislating."
Rep. Henry Hyde,
R-III, the author of a package on youth violence
being debated in congress found, it's exceedingly
difficult to legislate curbs on the media that
don't run afoul of First Amendment freedom-of-expression
guarantees. He warned parents that they should
not become complacent about media violence. He
said, "Parents ultimately bear the responsibility
for the environment in which their children are
raised." He continued by saying, "We
can pass laws to keep this garbage out of the
hands of kids, but parents have to guide their
children away from the polluting environment the
greedy purveyors of violence are eager to sell."
Bottom line, young
men who choose to kill are responsible for their
own actions. They are very troubled and angry
at their inability to fit in -- an anger they
directed at groups they perceived as enemies.
These kids are on the edge and on the outside,
loners, and misfits.
today are a lost generation. No other generation
in history has been so plagued by sex, drugs,
alcohol, greed, and murder at such a young age.
My question is, who is to blame?
Everyone knows something
terrible has happened in our nation's schools.
Crime and violence have become so common, many
school buildings now have metal detectors. Seventh-grade
boys are able to obtain guns and mow down their
classmates with no sorrow at all.
system itself has become vile and perverted. Teachers
are introducing students to atheism, evolution,
homosexual lifestyles, permissive sexual attitudes,
anti-religious bigotry. A teacher can't place
a Bible on his desk -- but he can display literature
on subjects ranging from communism to pornography.
Ever since our judicial
system shut God out of our schools, Satan has
taken them over. Yet I am convinced it is not
our corrupt school system that is damning our
Our entire society
is experiencing a moral collapse. Cultural programs
and art exhibits have become filthy and vulgar,
making profanity commonplace. Even respected leaders
in government and business positions use vile
language freely. They curse Christ and damn God's
name without even thinking about it.
collapse has become so urgent, even liberal atheists
acknowledge that our foundations are being threatened.
Yet it is not our corrupt society that is damning
The entire media
today appears to be demon-controlled. MTV is the
devil's private network, with Satan himself presiding
as CEO. Music videos have become nothing more
than lewd pornography with wicked, demoralizing
You have to wonder
what kind of demon-possessed minds could push
such perversion on an entire generation of youth.
The sellers of this hellish filth obviously have
wrecked their own lives, and now they'll settle
for nothing less than ruining the next generation.
Yet even the wicked music scene isn't responsible
for damning our youth.
sex sells anything. No sexual act is considered
sinful anymore. Anything goes, so that with everything
passing hour America sinks deeper into debauchery.
And it's all being promoted by a media in collusion
with the powers of hell. Yet as bad as advertising
companies have become, they aren't to blame for
damning our youth.
You may wonder about
the influence of a dead, compromising church that
brings worldly filth into God's house. Many pastors
now routinely deny the existence of heaven, hell,
and the virgin birth. Their churches have empty
shells, having a form of godliness but no power.
And their services have become so bland that the
youth leave in droves. Young people are left thinking
Christianity is totally irrelevant to their lives.
Many worship leaders
have replaced hymns with MTV-style rock music
that mentions Jesus only in passing. Instead of
offering holy worship, churches now stage body-slamming
punk-rock concerts, where menacing, tattooed,
body-pierced band members gyrate wildly, polluting
God's house with the music of angry rebellion.
Yet as dry and worldly
as the compromising church has become, it is not
the primary force that is damning our children.
Many parents --
including Christians -- blame all of these things
for the lost of our youth. When their children
stray, turning to drugs or alcohol, these parents
rage against schools, the government, the media,
the church, their kid's peers. Some end up removing
their children from public schools and enrolling
them in Christian schools. But too often their
kids' rebellion only grows worse.
parents take such action with their kids. They
want nothing to do with religion -- yet they send
their children to Sunday school hoping it will
instill in them some positive principles. They
expect that in just an hour each week the teachers
will magically transform their young rebels into
angels. But when it doesn't happen, those parents
blame the church for the chaos their child still
brings to their home.
Is to Blame for the Loss of Our Children?
All of the forces
I have named do play a part in the disintegration
of our youth. But neither schools, culture, media,
wicked music nor backslidden churches alone are
causing all the ruin. The truth is, the responsibility
for this generation of youth rests primarily with
parents. The home is where most seeds of rebellion
and wickedness are being sown.
Please don't misunderstand
-- I am not blaming all youth rebellion on parents.
Some responsibility must be placed directly upon
the young person for their own choices. There
are also other causes of their worldliness.
"Appoint Watches of the Inhabitants of
Jerusalem, Every One in His Watch, and Every
One to Be Over Against His House" (Nehemiah
According to Nehemiah,
guardians were to be appointed not just to the
gates of the holy city Jerusalem, but to every
home as well. In short, the heads of every household
-- that is, the parents -- were responsible for
everything that came into their home.
God's message here
is crystal clear: Fathers and mothers, you are
charged to guard your home from every demonic
enemy that tries to enter. This means you are
responsible for every book, every record, every
friend your child brings through the door. You
are also responsible for every influence within
your home, whether it's TV, videos or the Internet.
I sincerely believe
that parents today need more wisdom and discernment
than at any other in history. Satan has many more
wicked inventions and subtle disguises to use
against God's people. And only through daily,
diligent prayer and immersion in God's word will
we have power against him as guardians over our
Before I go any
further, I want to encourage all single parents:
God knows your struggle to be both a father and
a mother to your children. Yet his charge to you
remains the same: You are the appointed guardian
over your house. You can't wait for a mate to
come in and do the job for you. The Lord promises
to provide all grace and strength to you if you
will stand up for his word in your home.
As I think of the
two boys in Colorado who killed their classmates
and themselves, I wonder: Where were the parents?
Those boys were making pipe bombs in the family
garage. And their rooms were full of clues about
what they were up to: hate material, threatening
notes, black coats and hats. Didn't their father
check up on them occasionally? Didn't their mother
ever go into their rooms to clean up, and notice
all the demonic paraphernalia? Apparently, there
was no guard at their door.
I see teenagers with pierced tongues, demonic
symbols, and spiked hair, I recognize these as
mere symptoms. Such kids are crying out, "Mom,
Dad, you're neglecting me. You're too busy --
you don't even notice I exist."
One day we're all
going to stand before the judgment seat and answer
to the Lord for how we raised our children. And
in that moment, none of us will be able to offer
excuses or blame anyone else. Therefore, we have
to examine ourselves today, asking: Have we brought
up our children in the fear and admonition of
the Lord? Have we modeled for them a life of love
and reverence for God?
I remember playing
outside as a boy and hearing my mother pray for
me form the third floor of our house. Her example
remains vivid in my memory. Later, when my wife
and I were raising our children, we did the same,
praying for our kids according to Proverbs: "Lord,
make our sons as oaks beside the waters of life.
And make our daughters as polished stones in your
palace. Keep them all from the schemes of the
parent has high hopes for his child. I see this
regularly in our congregation, as parents bring
their children forward to be dedicated to the
Lord. Our pastoral staff prays for God's love
and protection over these little ones. Then we
anoint them with oil and ask the Holy Ghost to
put a wall of fire around them.
I can't help wondering: How many of those precious
children are going to end up in the devil's clutches
-- on drugs, into crime -- because their mom and
dad got careless about the spiritual atmosphere
in their home? Will they end up in ruin because
their parents were wrapped up in their own problems,
never giving them attention or proper discipline?
Maybe you're a parent
who hurts because your grown son or daughter no
longer serves the Lord. Or, perhaps you're heartbroken
because your youngster is hooked on drugs or alcohol.
You've seen your once-tender child grow bitter,
hard, and lost.
This message is
not meant to condemn you. No one can take back
his or her past. But I do have a question for
you. As you look back on your parenting years,
ask yourself: Were you a true guardian over your
home? Did you bathe your children in prayer daily?
Or were you too busy? Did you allow your kids
to intimidate you?
That is all in the
past now. Yet there remains something you can
do: You still have a calling as a watchman to
pray diligently for your child's salvation. That's
right -- you can make up in prayer today what
you might have missed in past years. You can still
seek God's face, bathe your loved one in prayer,
and call down Holy Ghost conviction on him to
bring him to the cross.
I must warn you,
however -- if your kids are backslidden or unsaved,
you must not preach at them. Simply pray for them.
You can't nag anyone into the kingdom of heaven.
Addict after addict has told me, "My ears
still ring form my mother's screaming. I could
hear her all the way down the block."
There is no real
power in raising your voice, because all power
rests with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, be empowered
by your respect for God's word. When someone walks
through your front door, they should sense God's
authority in your home right away, without a word
being mentioned. And until your children become
adults, you are the guardian in charge who has
authority to set down all the rules.
it very clear that if you raise your children
on the authority of God's word, they won't depart
from that training in their later years. They
may veer away from it for a while, even for years
-- but ultimately it will bring them to truth.
Bible Offers a Word of Hope
to All Parents Who Grieve
Over a Backslidden Child.
Here is a covenant
promise that every parent should memorize. It
applies both to children who have been lost and
to those presently under your care:
"Yet now hear,
0 Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed
thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear
not, 0 Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom
I have chosen.
"For I will
pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods
upon the dry ground. I will pour my spirit upon
thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
and they shall spring up as among the grass, as
willows by the water course" (Isaiah 44:1-4).
This word of promise
to Israel is also meant for us today. Its words
of comfort are given to all who are chosen (see
verse 1) -- meaning, all who are in Christ.
The Lord begins
by telling us in verse 1-2, "I am the Lord
who made you, and I know your pain. I am going
to help you now. You don't have to fear."
The word for Jesurun in this verse means righteous
one. In other words, God makes these promises
to his righteous ones -- glorious, binding, covenant
promises. The promises are:
God will provide
water to satisfy our thirst: "I will pour
water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon
the dry ground" (verse 3). Has the Lord brought
you his thirst—quenching word? Has he
come to you in your dry spells and flooded you
with his Spirit? Are you drinking the pure water
of his word?
If so, you are ready
to claim another covenant promise:
I will pour my spirit
upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
and they shall spring up as among the grass, as
willows by the water courses" (verse 3-4).
As you may know,
willow trees grow fast and tall and they spread
wide. You often see them growing beside streams
or bodies of water. God is saying here, "Because
you are my chosen, I'm going to pour my Spirit
out on your children. And I will cause them to
grow tall and strong in the Lord."
As you read and
reread these verses, I urge you to fill in your
lost child's name. Claim God's promise to you
by praying, "Lord, you said you would pour
your Spirit on my child. Now, bless my children,
Joshua, Benjamin, Mary, and Andrew. Pour out your
Spirit on them. Cause them to thirst for your
Finally, God says
your children will testify, "I am the Lord's"
(verse 5). What an incredible promise.
Yet these promises
are not for everyone who merely says, "I
am of Christ." They are only for hungering,
thirsting parents -- those who drink in God's
word daily, praying regularly, asking the Spirit
to pour out on them his power and presence.
If this describes
you, then speak God's promises. Claim them as
yours, and hold the Lord to them in your intercession.
Then bathe your family in prayer -- and watch
the enemy flee.
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