June 18, 2024

Kids and Violence

In the wake of yesterday’s slaughter at Virginia Tech the questions “why did this happen?” and “how can we stop it from happening again?” are on everyone’s lips. I think that the two questions are closely related, but perhaps not for the same reasons as others who might agree.

I think events like these have root causes that can be understood. A caveat to this discussion is that I don’t discount the fact that there are people in the world and in America who are simply psychotic. There is no hope for them, in my opinion, and they are outside the scope of this post.

Most infants have the capability of being raised into responsible, law-abiding adults, ones who won’t murder dozens of people for no reason, ones who won’t beat their wives and kids, and ones who won’t pass these and other character flaws onto another generation.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. too many people are doing a pretty piss poor job of raising their children. This can be shown in numerous ways, including: poor scholastic achievement, unacceptable work ethics, high rates of juvenile pregnancy and incarceration, etc.

But perhaps no single indicator of America’s failure to parent properly is more telling than the one entitled “Violence against guardians an ‘alarming trend’” in the Houston Chronicle on Friday. From the article:

One longtime prosecutor in the juvenile courts said he was “floored by the numbers” after a survey found 1,831 young people had been charged with assaulting a parent or guardian. Another called it an “alarming, alarming trend.”

“It’s scary,” added Kris Moore, a juvenile prosecutor in Harris County since 1980. ” … I don’t know if it’s media or television or violent games or what. You’ve got so many parents out there working their butts off trying to make ends meet, and it’s harder for them to supervise their kids. If you get into a situation where parents aren’t in control of their kids, they’re going to get into trouble.”

Moore said the violence against parents is escalating.

“It used to be that we never had an assault on a parent,” she said. “Would you have pushed your mother down the stairs? Would you have stabbed your grandmother?”

The answer to Ms. Moore’s question is an emphatic “No!”. Few children in earlier generations would have even acknowledged the idea of assaulting their parents or grandparents. This is a modern problem, one that’s been created in the eras of “peace, love, and understanding” and the aftermath.

Whether the V.T. murderer Cho Seung-hui was one of the children this country has failed to raise correctly remains to be seen. Indeed this may never be known. But consider the trends already seen and understood by Harris County’s prosecutors.

Our children are perhaps no more violent than previous generations; however, the targets of their aggression are more and more often chosen inappropriately. Parents, relatives, siblings, small neighborhood children, the elderly. All are potential victims of a generation without boundaries.

I believe that the failure of parents to properly discipline their children at a young age is responsible for a large percentage of behavioral problems experienced by school-age children. Anyone who is involved with children can see which at a glance which ones have been raised to respect authority and other people and which ones have not. Children who are rewarded for behaving well and punished for breaking the rules grow to fit into society when they become adults. Often those that are allowed to wreak havoc as children become misfits later in life. Not all misfits are bad. But some are and we’d do well to give them a sense of propriety from the very beginning rather than suffer the consequences later.

Of course there are other societal factors such as violence on television, crude and violent music lyrics, and a barely acceptable education system. These factors should not be discounted.

Nevertheless, I believe that the home is where children learn how to behave long before these external influences converge on them. The home is where we should begin to make these little people into the children, neighbors, and friends we’d like to have living in America with us.

It should be obvious that children need two parents, a man and a woman, who are dedicated to making them grow up tall and strong and the best that they can be. Give a child that kind of environment and he or she will almost always do fine later in life.

Discipline is key and two parents working as one is essential to discipline. When one is weak the other can pick up the slack for a time. No parent is perfect – it takes two to even come close to doing what’s needed every single day. It should not be a surprise that children are underachieving and overly frustrated, angry, and violent in this modern age of broken homes. This should be understood to be inevitable.

Why? Too many children are never taught how to accept boundaries. They’ve never been made to do what is right when they don’t want to. They’ve never been forced to do what needs to be done when the work is no fun.

In short, too many of our children have never been shown how to live correctly. Small wonder they do it wrong.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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