Pearl, Mississippi. Paducah, Kentucky. Jonesboro, Arkansas. Springfield, Oregon. Littleton, Colorado. The names are different, but the bloody scenes are sickeningly similar. People that we used to call “children” are now being viewed as gangsters, heartless thugs who are more ruthless than John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde at the height of their bank-robbing days.
The nation is again in a state of shock. How could it happen? What are the causes that factor into this wave of “kid” violence?
Just this past week a thirteen-year-old boy was arrested on a campus in southern California. He had a semi-automatic pistol, fully loaded with a clip of thirteen bullets, and a “hit list” of thirty students in his pocket. (Perhaps, in a bizarre sort of way, we can thank the public education system that his math skills were so deficient that he could not figure out that you cannot kill thirty people with thirteen bullets!)
According to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, last year, within the schools of this nation, there were: 4,170 cases of rape or sexual battery; 7,150 robberies; 10,950 assaults with weapons; 98,490 acts of vandalism; 115,500 incidents of theft or larceny; and, 187,890 assaults without weapons.
The media pundits have one thing in common as they attempt to probe the roots of this phenomenon: they exhibit a state of total confusion.
A great many of these expert analysts are regurgitating the most superficial approaches—ever tapping at the periphery, but never getting to the heart of the matter. There is talk of the need for greater gun control, better protective devices in our schools (e.g., metal detectors and surveillance cameras), more on-campus security, school uniforms, etc.
Others speak of the need for more exhaustive psychological probes. We must develop identity profiles whereby we are able to more easily recognize the type of youth who is prone to violence. More counseling must be made available to students so that they will be able to release their hostilities in “role-playing” scenarios, etc. Some of these considerations may be “band-aid” factors; none of them goes to the core of the issue.
Several causes, we believe, have contributed to this grim situation.
First, it is obvious that these diminutive criminals have no concept of right and wrong—or, if they do, they simply do not care about the lives of their fellows. Some of them appear to have had little-to-no moral training. Others, if they have a residue of conscience, have had it dulled to the point of almost total insensitivity. When a bloody hoodlum can ask a young girl: “Do you believe in God?,” and then, when she answers affirmatively, shoot her, there is a flat EEG in his spiritual heart.
Media “authorities” are now beginning to speak of the need for “character” education, but they insist that such must be divorced from theology. After all, we must never attempt to reconcile a relationship between religion and the state.
But the fact is, you cannot teach a child it is morally wrong to kill, and then simply buttress your admonition with a “just-because-it-is” rationale. Murder is evil because God is the author of life. Murder is wrong because humans have been fashioned in his image (Genesis 9:6). Murder is wicked because God says so! When one person murders another person, he has assaulted the Creator himself.
In her book, My Father Bertrand Russell, Katharine Tait recalls how her famous agnostic father attempted to teach her and her siblings moral responsibility without recourse to God. She affirmed that his philosophy “was not convincing—neither to us nor to him” (1975, 182,185).
Second, for more than a century now—and with increasing intensity—our children have been exposed to the Darwinian philosophy that evolutionary progress is made when the strong trample down and eliminate the weak. We are where we are today, they allege, because of the tooth-and-claw law of the jungle. In his book, The Descent of Man, Darwin argued that civilization’s preservation of the sick, weak, etc., has been “highly injurious to the race of man.” Supposedly, species advance when the weak are destroyed!
When Gerry Spence, the buckskin-clad attorney who regularly appears on the evening news-talk programs, was asked what he thought was responsible for the Littleton massacre, he pointed to the top of his head and replied: “You know, we have a reptilian core right here that’s very violent” (emphasis added). Blame it on our “brutish” ancestry!
This was the exact defense used by Clarence Darrow in 1924 when he defended Leopold and Loeb, boys eighteen and nineteen years old, who had murdered fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks for the sheer thrill of it.
Similarly, Adolf Hitler, laboring under the influence of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, thought he was advancing the evolutionary scheme of things when he executed six million “inferior” Jews. It is not without significance that the Littleton bloodbath was perpetrated on the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday—and that by design, according to the diary of one of the Colorado killers!
The National Education Association has an agenda of brainwashing our youth with evolutionary propaganda. A recent writer in the NEA journal describes the conflict between the government’s education program and Christianity as “a war” that is raging “in our public schools.” He boasts of subverting the faith of a boy in his class.
Anyone who does not see the connection between teaching a child that he is a mere animal, and the brutish conduct which may result from accepting that theory, is an intellectual runt. Darwinism is taught daily in our public school system. And yet, as Fox News analyst Fred Barnes recently observed, if a teacher were to call aside a troubled student, and counsel him with the spiritual instruction of Jesus Christ, he would be fired summarily!
Third, there has been considerable recent discussion about the great variety of subculture influences to which our youth are being exposed these days, e.g., video violence, rap “music” (in which murder actually is encouraged), and shock rock (slop), like that performed by the freak known as Marilyn Manson (whose stage name purportedly was borrowed from Charles Manson—if that tells you anything). One news commentator opined that our children have been “marinated” in this garbage.
At the same time, the liberal media continue to defend the “rights” of these “entertainment” outrages under the guise of the alleged entitlement of the First Amendment. The founding fathers of this nation never dreamed of such a twisted interpretation of the Constitution.
Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once quipped that no one has the right to frivolously shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Will we never learn that some liberties have to be curtailed when the larger issue of societal safety is at stake? The function of government is to operate on behalf of the welfare of its people. When a system allows the destruction of a nation’s moral fabric, under the guise of “freedom,” it has forfeited its right to prosper.
Fourth, it is apparent that many of America’s youngsters have no sense of eternity. When two young thugs can murder a teacher and a dozen of their fellow-students, and then abruptly end their own lives, they obviously believe they are terminating their personal existence—unless they subscribe to some bizarre notion of reincarnation.
Somehow, they have been influenced to abandon the idea that there is an ultimate accountability to their Maker. They are convinced there is no eternal, conscious doom for rebels. Political spokesmen, philosophers, educators, science scholars, some theologians, etc., ridicule the concept of judgment—and then wonder why our youth have no remorse for killing, and no fear of dying.
The French philosopher Pascal wrote:
It is certain that the mortality or immortality of the soul must make an entire difference to morality. And yet philosophers have constructed their ethics independently of this: they discuss to pass an hour [i.e., they are merely consuming time with their words—with no fruitful result] (n.d. 79).
Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, in his Diary of a Writer, observed that neither the individual nor society can thrive without the “higher ideal” that the soul is immortal. He declared that “higher ideas” flow from that premise (Berdyaev 1934, 105).
Fifth, a legal system gone awry has taken the fear of criminal activity out of the hearts of both young and old. In his best-selling book, Guilty: The Collapse of Criminal Justice, the late Judge Harold J. Rothwax powerfully argued that the current criminal justice system is no longer a mechanism that is involved in a search for truth. The judge charged: “Our system is a carefully crafted maze, constructed of elaborate and impenetrable barriers to the truth.”
The two lads, ages eleven and thirteen, who killed a teacher and five students and wounded ten others in Jonesboro, Arkansas, by law, could not be tried for murder. They were found guilty of “juvenile delinquency,” and may not be detained beyond the age of twenty-one—and probably will be released by the time they are eighteen.
Paul warned that the lawbreaker ought to fear civil authority, for it “bears not the sword in vain” (Romans 13:4). When the “powers that be” scarcely wield even a “switch,” let alone the “sword,” criminality will run wild.
Yes, there are significant factors behind the violence that is characteristic of so many of today’s young people. Behind it all, however, are the inexcusable and ongoing blunders of an uncaring, materialistic, and wicked adult population. The apple does not fall far from the tree!
See our related article, The Destiny Of Our Children: Nature Or Nurture?.
- Berdyaev, Nicolas. 1934. Dostoevsky. Kansas City, MO: Sheed & Ward.
- Pascal, Blaise. n.d. The Thoughts of Blaise Pascal. Garden City, NY: Dolphis Books.
- Rothwax, Harold J. 1996. Guilty: The The Collapse of Criminal Justice. New York, NY: Random House.
- Tait, Katharine. 1975. My Father Bertrand Russell. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.