Protect Your Children

After a series of school shootings, frightened parents are asking, “What can we do to protect our children?” The violence-fixated cultural landscape of America is not going to change. That means families must protect themselves. Here is a place to start.

The statistics in America are alarming: A typical adolescent today spends 3.5 hours per day alone or unsupervised. Children spend 11 fewer hours with their parents each week, compared with the 1960s. Between 1993 and 1996, there was a 721 percent increase in the number of minutes on the evening news spent covering homicides. By the end of elementary school, a child will have seen 8,000 murders in the media. There has been a 300 percent increase in teen suicide since the 1960s and a 1000 percent increase in depression among children since the 1950s.

And what effects are showing up in our society as a result of those appalling statistics? The direction started becoming clear in the early 1990s. By the middle ’90s, the distress-signal was undeniable: America’s youth are in serious trouble.

A Plague of Youth Violence

The December 17, 1994, Economist wrote (emphasis mine throughout), “For several sweltering days in summer, all America could talk about was Robert Sandifer. A member of one of Chicago’s notorious street gangs, the Black Disciples, Sandifer was suspected of having sprayed bullets from a semi-automatic pistol into a group of teenagers on the city’s poverty-stricken South Side. One young girl was killed. Days later, so was Sandifer—by his own gang. This much was harrowing but unexceptional. What shocked the country was the fact that Sandifer, a 23-times convicted felon, was all of 11 years old.”

The Economist of April 24 paints a bloodstained picture almost five years later when it reported, “Yet again, as the nation’s television cameras abruptly switched their focus on April 20 from Kosovo to Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Americans have been forced to view the barbaric side of their culture.

“‘Yet again’ is a natural reaction. Many see [the April 20] tragedy in a prosperous, middle-class suburb of Denver as part of a gruesome sequence….

“The statistics may show a drop in crime across the country in the past five years, including a drop in murders by gun-wielding teenagers, but the fact is that each year more than 2,000 Americans aged 14-17 use a gun to kill someone.” It is clear that very real tragedies—monstrous tragedies—are afflicting almost every area of America, and the momentum is rising.

The Daily Oklahoman of April 30 stated, “Threats of violence at Oklahoma schools since the Colorado high school shooting have escalated at an alarming rate,” and there followed a listing of 12 separate occurrences in Oklahoma alone of school-related death threats, bomb threats and gun-sighting incidents in the 10 days following the Colorado massacre. One Oklahoma school superintendent in a small, normally peaceful rural community said, “People are panicky. We’ve got parents that came to school…to withdraw their children. And probably ten kids came to the office, wanting to check out.”

Parents are scared, seeing no end in sight to the school massacres, asking, “What can we do?” “How can we protect our precious children from this carnage?”

Getting Right Spiritually

More than anything, this unprecedented youth violence facing parents is a spiritual crisis in the family and indeed the entire society. Therefore, a spiritual solution must be sought first. In matters such as this, physical remedies can be effective only after a spiritual healing has begun. Otherwise, we risk only treating the effect rather than the actual cause, which is founded in the choices mankind made in the very beginning and which have since been reinforced throughout history by every human individual’s rebellion against God’s ways of peace and happiness.

In a recent Key of David program, Gerald Flurry addressed the issue of school shootings focusing on the cause of the problem of kids killing kids. That cause is the breaking of God’s law in our nation and in our families.

At the end of the program, Mr. Flurry made the statement, “If God’s law was obeyed, then the violence would stop immediately.” God very clearly supports that thinking by laying out our choices in Deuteronomy 30:19: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy [children] may live.”

Genesis 2:16-17 reveals some of the earliest instructions the eternal God gave to our progenitors, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden. God gave them freedom of choice—the freedom to act rightly or wrongly. But instead of choosing to do things God’s way, they chose to do things their own way, even though God had warned them that a wrong choice would lead to unhappiness and death for the whole human family.

That same wrong choice has been made by all humans (Rom. 3:23), and that is why we see all this suffering and misery today: Mankind is reaping the results of wrong choices. “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). It is simply a case of cause and effect. As long as mankind keeps choosing to turn away from God’s law, he will reap the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7).

We can see the results of this rejection of God’s law in Genesis 6 where it describes the time just prior to the Flood over 4,500 years ago. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them [from] the earth’” (Gen. 6:5, 11-13, NKJV).

Jesus Christ prophesied in Matthew 24:37 that the end time would be exactly like the days of Noah, and that prophecy by Christ is coming to pass in a gruesome and startling way. What we are seeing in these school killings is the result of out-of-control minds which are obsessed with hate and revenge. Applying God’s law would stop that.

Unfortunately, mankind has chosen to reject these laws and live contrary to God by lying, cheating, stealing, killing, coveting, committing adultery and fornicating—living selfishly for the most part. Is it any wonder then that we have so much unhappiness, suffering and death, and so many terrible, heartrending personal and world problems?

Mankind cut himself off from God in the Garden of Eden and began building his own society without the help of almighty God. The result of that failed experiment is this present evil world (Gal. 1:4), including the terrible youth violence wreaking havoc on our schools and society.

To the contrary, those who honor God the Father and keep His law know that the solutions to mankind’s problems must begin with God’s law. It is the keeping of God’s law which brings about peace and happiness.

Properly applying that law also reveals how to protect ourselves and our families from the evils that surround us.

Origin of Violence

Understanding the true source of violence is important in understanding how to bring it under control. In John 8:44, Christ is speaking to the religious leaders of His day who were seeking to murder Him because of the message He brought to mankind from God the Father. In that verse is amazing revelation from God pointing to the source of the violence facing us today. Christ said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Satan is a lying, violent murderer!

Satan is a very real being in spite of how some people ridicule that fact. We are told in Revelation 12:9-12, that Satan is filled with wrath and that he has been cast to this earth for the final days of this end time. Ephesians 2:2 sheds more light on the fact that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” Just like a radio transmitter, Satan is broadcasting attitudes of bitter, burning anger and murder right into the minds of mankind and is filling our society with lawlessness and rage.

Some of Satan’s greatest tools for spreading his vile wrath are found right in our homes, and that is the influence from television, movies, music, video games and the Internet. Satan has an open door to almost every home through the media.

This is not to say that the various school shootings were entirely caused by media influences. Obviously, such situations are very complex and multi-faceted. The purpose of this article is not to blame any one group. It is vital, however, that we protect our families—and especially our children—from our violence-fixated cultural landscape.

The Dark Side

In an article titled “Loitering on the Dark Side,” Newsweek of May 3 painted a clear picture of the influences besetting every American family. That article was subtitled, “The Columbine High killers fed on a culture of violence that isn’t about to change.” They wrote in pertinent part, “Was the Colorado tragedy a legacy of our technoculture: Doom, Natural Born Killers, hate-amplifying websites and pipe-bomb plans from the Net?…

“Defenders of the Net…note that criticizing the reach of the increasingly pervasive Web is like blaming paper for bad poetry. Still, it’s undeniable that cyberspace offers unlimited opportunity to network with otherwise unreachable creepy people…. The Internet credo is empowerment, and unfortunately that also applies to troubled teens sticking their toes into the foul water of hatemongering. As parents are learning, the Net’s easy accessibility to the netherworlds is a challenge that calls, at the least, for a measure of vigilance.”

That word “vigilance” brings to mind a particularly chilling scripture. I Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Lest we forget, Satan is a man-eating lion stalking us and our children, and the Internet provides a totally unregulated tool to perfectly accomplish those bloody plans.

“Hollywood is also a fat target,” the article continues. “From Oliver Stone’s lyric depiction of random murder [Natural Born Killers] (rabidly viewed by the Columbine killers) to stylish slaughter in The Matrix, violence is the main course on our entertainment menu. We are a nation that comfortably embraces Tony Soprano, a basic-values type of guy who not only orders hits but himself performs the occasional whacking. The industry’s defense is summarized by Doug Richardson, who scripted Die Hard II and Money Train. ‘If I were to accept the premise that the media culture is responsible, then I would be surprised that the thousands of violent images we see don’t inspire more acts of violence.’ In other words, the sheer volume of carnage is proof of its harmlessness.” I think anyone of a sound mind would agree that those words are at best a very weak defense!

The article continues, “Then there are the shoot-and-splatter video games like Doom—cited as a possible template for the Colorado killing spree. Some are concerned that hours of participating in a killing-machine fantasy might make a real-life version more palatable—a concern made more alarming since millions of people regularly play Doom and its cousins….”

The article goes on to indict the entirety of American society by stating, “Guns are all too available to troubled kids steeped not just in video games or slash movies, but the entire volatile stew that’s, well, America. Video games, the Net and Hollywood are just the low-hanging fruit in this blame game. The violent-entertainment complex survives because it caters tous: Its brutal images and dark-side pursuits exist because they’re popular and profitable.

“Traditional media exploit this, too; the week’s news coverage speaks directly to our fascination with home-bred violence. The [Colorado] killers may have been steeped in a crock pot of fantasy carnage, but now the nation is willingly marinating in its very real aftermath: a tissue-consuming orgy of victim interviews and 911 tapes….

“What we’re left with is a vicious cycle where even the examination of a disaster reinforces the violence-obsessed culture that may have helped trigger it. How can you pull the threads of violence from a society when those strands are so deeply woven into our character? We’re left with [the conclusion to] make sure that your kids don’t get in so deep that fantasies cross over to horrible, heartbreaking reality. It’ll have to do because the culture isn’t changing. We like it too much.”

One of the great dangers lurking in our society is the threat of becoming immersed in the violence, pornography and lawlessness which is filling the minds of many people in this world. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” One of the lessons in these school killings is that if we focus our minds on violence, we will become violent. That is why the practice of “thought stopping” is so essential. Simply put, we must stop wrong thoughts before they take root and drive us to wrong action.

The Apostle James summed it up plainly by stating that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin [the transgression of law (I John 3:4)]: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15). Clearly, we must stop wrong thoughts and stop the obsessing which leads to law-breaking.

Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 15:19 that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Twisted, lawless minds led to the Colorado killings! Those two young men in Colorado saturated themselves with violence and hatred until demonic influences drove them to attack their classmates like a pair of mad dogs. That is how Satan controls those who voluntarily open their minds to such evil influences.

Matthew 8:28 describes the violence associated with demon influence and possession. As Christ was walking in the country, “there met him two possessed of devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.” That is the violent, murderous nature of Satan in man, and nothing has changed since the time of Christ.

That same satanic wrath is pouring out of violent TV shows and movies, video games and hate-filled music into the minds of those who don’t protect themselves from Satan’s influences. Yet many psychiatrists and so-called “experts” say all this preoccupation with violence does not have a significant effect. Romans 1:22 says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” and that exactly describes many of these “experts” who reject God’s word.

God warns in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” God’s word is plain in stating that those who reject God’s law have lost God’s protection on their children!

We should not believe the “experts” who tell us that violent entertainment will not hurt our children. The evils occurring in our society today are proof that kids are falling victim to the wrong kind of influences. No matter what these so-called “experts” say, we must judge by the fruits (Matt. 7:16-20), and the fruits are not good.

It is clear that TV and the Internet were only contributing factors in the Littleton massacre, but in order to stop the violence, we must learn to combat Satan’s evil influences and the predators stalking our children!

Controlling the Media

The Internet is a great tool and a marvelous source of information, but the phenomenal growth of the Web has been, and still is, totally unregulated, which makes it a potentially dangerous place for our children. As recently as 1993, there were only 130 sites on the World Wide Web. In March 1999, that had grown to 4.3 million websites and it is currently growing by 50,000 to 100,000 sites per month. That’s a tremendous amount of information which can now be accessed through the Web. But as with all things potentially good, mankind has corrupted and perverted the Internet, and you need to know how to control its influences on your children, at least while they are under the age of 18.

So how can we control the Web’s influence?

1. Be aware of what websites or chat rooms your underage child is visiting on the Internet. Ask the child, but also learn how to check the Internet history files on your computer. As the parent, you have the responsibility and the right to know what your child is doing on the Internet.

2. Set up the Internet computer in a public area of the house, like the living room, where you can monitor what’s going on, and don’t allow your child to be on the Internet in another room behind closed doors. Proverbs 29:15 warns that “a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” The “latchkey” and otherwise unsupervised children of today are easy targets for Satan. The natural curiosity of children can lead them into wrong areas very quickly, and we must protect our children’s minds.

3. Take advantage of the computer’s power-on password to control when the computer is used. You set the password which allows your computer to boot up. Also, consider purchasing some password-protected Internet security software, or parental-control software, so that offensive material cannot be viewed.

4. Set a time limit on how long a child can surf the Web. One hour a day—while you are present—should be plenty. Because we love our children, we must establish rules to protect them from the satanic influences on the Internet which they don’t fully understand.

Next, how can we protect our children from TV and movie violence?

1. Be more selective with the programs and moviesyouwatch. Be a good example (Titus 2:1-8). Eliminate programs from your viewing that glamorize crime, violence, cruelty, illicit sex and vulgar language. Just don’t watch those programs! Violence and sex should not be the major theme of programs for kids or adults.

Our examples speak louder than our words. We adults need to lead the way in avoiding violent entertainment. Just change channels or get up and walk out of the movie.

2. Watch programs and moviestogetherwith your children. Scientific studies show it is better if parents watch TV with their children. Many so-called “family” programs are filled with rebellion, lying, immorality and disrespect for authority. If you watch together, you can offset the bad effect on children of occasional fallacies and wrong actions shown in a TV show or movie. That way we can teach our children that such conduct is not acceptable.

3. Another important TV viewing guideline is to limit the amount of TV your family watches. Most importantly, don’t allow the TV to become your child’s babysitter, even if they aren’t watching violence and wrong programming. The average American child spends 900 hours a year in school and 1,500 hours a year watching television. A child who spends two to three or maybe four to six hours a day gawking at a TV world of make-believe and fantasy is losing vital hours which should be spent learning to relate and talk to brothers, sisters, playmates, parents and relatives. We must not let our children get lost in the fantasy world of TV.

4. Replace much of TV viewing with family interests. Revive good old-fashioned family get-togethers where family members simply talk and share interests, ideas, needs, desires; share hopes and dreams, thoughts on current world events, activities at school, at work or in the neighborhood. Most importantly, don’t let TV stifle family conversation! We need to find out what is going on in our children’s minds.

5. Help family members develop hobbies that take them away from the TV set. Find constructive hobbies like sports, photography, reading, arts and crafts, instrumental music or voice, sewing, gardening, woodworking, electronic projects, cooking, or maybe model car, plane or train building. The more a parent sets the example of having outside interests, such as hobbies, the more likely the child will develop healthy outside interests.

6. Take the necessary first step by turning off the TV set earlier, and then use that time to find interesting, thought-provoking activities for yourself and your children.

Before you watch a program, ask yourself if it encourages worthwhile ideals, values and beliefs like family life, godliness and so forth, or does it glamorize crime, indecency, intolerance, greed or cruelty?

Does the program teach true values? Or does it promote false standards of material success, personal vanity, a lack of self-restraint, or even immorality?

Will the program stimulate constructive activities like promoting skills and hobbies? Does the program encourage the desire to learn more, to be creative, to solve problems or to work and get along better with others?

Is the program wholesome adventure, humor or suspense—or is it morbid, crude, loud, violent or vulgar?

Does the program add to one’s understanding and appreciation of himself and others? Does it encourage decent human relations? Is it fair to all races and nations? Is it balanced in its approach? Or is it prejudiced, one-sided propaganda that plays on the emotions and displays a lack of knowledge? In order to protect ourselves and our children, we need to evaluate what we watch.

7. The most important point is that you should become God-centered in your television watching. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Ask yourself if you would watch that program if Jesus Christ or an angel of God were sitting right in the room with you.

James 1:22 says we must be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.

Ezekiel 5:12 tells us that a “pestilence,” meaning a great plague of violence, is going to come on the land in the end time. We are already experiencing that growing plague of violence right now, and our children and families must be protected from it!

We know that media influences were contributing factors to the massacre in Colorado. We must recognize the various facets of this tragedy, like the violent culture in America, and then do what we can to protect our families from Satan’s violent input.

Proverbs 27:12 tells us, “A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” We must see what is occurring in our society, and hide ourselves and our families from it. We must keep God’s law and do what we can to protect ourselves and our families from the violence flooding out of the mind of Satan.