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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,272,820  

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Question of the Week: 32 - 3/12/2001

Why Are Kids Killing Kids?

And what can be done about it? Is violence so prevalent in societies today that it is inevitable that it will trickle down to our kids? What do you think are the causes of violence, uncivilly and alienation in today's world? What roles-if any-do you think the availability of guns, the 'cult of individuality,' the changing family structure or the fast pace of life play in these situations? Should schools keep the same hours as the workplace so those children are not alone for hours until the parents return from work? Are parents responsible? Should the right of all children to personal privacy be breached in order to curb the violence of some? Do Pagan philosophies offer any suggestions on how to help mitigate the problems facing a society in which violence is an almost daily occurrence?

 Reponses:   There are 60 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

One Of The Major Problems I See Is The Media Hype - These... Mar 12th. at 7:07:57 am EST

Trish Telesco (western, New York US) Age: 40 - Email

one of the major problems I see is the media hype - these children are made into heros by the press - the underdog who takes desperate action. Additionally, children see so much violence that they (and we) often become numb to it nearly saying "hey, it's only another murder" -- do we realize that if someone had shows scenes like they do today 100 years ago people would have fainted in terror (this is a historical fact)! The more you shove violence in the face of people, the more they're likely to become apathetic. Yes, we need toknow horrible things can and do happen, but they shouldn't be romaticized and turned into profitable crimes.

Another problem that occurs is that schools, while often punishing children who make violent comments, do not correct the source of those comments - namely the taunters. This only further encourages the child to lash out because they're not getting support.

Finally in the home children need to be taught strong self esteem and coping mechanisms. It's not easy to be a child these days, and if they're not getting back up from family, children are more likely to launch out on their own and do unthinkable things.

The Tighter This World Holds On With Its Fist Of Control, The... Mar 12th. at 12:24:00 pm EST

Snowflake (Fredericton, New Brunswick CA) Age: 20 - Email

The tighter this world holds on with its fist of control, the more people will slip through its fingers and end up shooting someone. There is no longer communication between human beings. If you stick an average child out in a campsite they will stare blankly around and sit perfectly still instead of having fun. We don't know how to enjoy life! We are plugged into a 24/7 movie that is our lives. Nothing means anything to us anymore unless it's an image that comes across a screen. People view people as objects and not as living, breathing human beings anymore. "The System" is sick and it is perpetuating the sickness of its people. I have no idea how to cure this sickness that is modernism and supposed "progress". How do we undo what has alreaady been done for years and years? We are hard-wired into this machine called society and it's breaking down and taking us with it.

Hello Everyone. I Am A 17 Year Old Girl Who Goes To... Mar 12th. at 1:24:55 pm EST

Suzzy Bell (Burley, Idaho US) Age: 17

Hello everyone. I am a 17 year old girl who goes to high school and does not feel very safe with some of the people in my school. I think there is too high availability for kids to get guns. Most schools such as mine do not have metal detectors, sure we have cameras to help keep us "safe" but the feeling is not there. Parents should talk to their children about guns. Teenagers need to be open with their parents about the way they feel. Such as at Columbine, it seems to be the kids that are picked on that go get the gun. If there is a threat in your school, you need to tell someone. Something is happening to today's youth and we need to fix it. Thanx!!!

It's Hard To Pin The "blame" On Any One Thing But The... Mar 12th. at 2:18:57 pm EST

Charlayne Elizabeth Denney (Friendswood, Texas US) Age: 44 - Email

It's hard to pin the "blame" on any one thing but the one aspect of all of this that I see is that the kids aren't taught that each person has something to contribute. There is no respect for difference.

Every school experience is "get along" and "be like others". Some can fit, others don't. Peer pressure to conform is rampant and everything from fashion to gangs has this element.

And when that is the ruling value, those who don't conform are targets for the abuse that the youngsters can dish out. Most of the time it's blown off as something a kid has to deal with. "Get a thick skin" is said a lot. "Sticks and Stones may break bones but words will never hurt me" is the rhyme. But it's WRONG.

Pagans are taught that words have power. From chants to rhymes, words are the most powerful conduit to energy that there is. Every word has energy. This is why we don't have as many pagans who will engage in harassment of other groups (there ARE exceptions).

Also, we teach that we are not the "only" ones out there. It's not "our way or the Hell highway" but inclusiveness. Differences are usually highlighted and actually honored.

Thirdly, the pagan community teaches "threefold law" or karmic debt and I think that keeps the pagan children from "going off" and killing others; they opt for suicide instead. They won't harm others and they will kill themselves so they can try to escape and do the lessons next time. This is so understandable yet so very sad.

I have a daughter who fit the profile of the little girl who killed herself. She is STILL on antidepressants at age 24 from the harassment she took at the hands of so-called "loving" Christians for her beliefs. She's goth, was pagan even before I was, and just grieves that people don't respect her. She's improved a lot since those school days but she has no joy in remembering high school.

Schools MUST teach diversity, respect, honoring yourself and others. There is a zero tolerance policy against weapons and drugs--there needs to be one on harassment and hazing. Until they stop allowing this behavior, there will be more deaths.

Blessed be:

I Don't Think Kids Today Are Any Different Than I And My... Mar 12th. at 3:16:28 pm EST

Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) Age: 30 - Email

I don't think kids today are any different than I and my peer group were. I remember being strained to the breaking point because I felt lost, alone, different, tortured, weird, and unloved. I remember considering taking my own life. I remember great anger with the world around me and it's unfairness and cruelty. I also remember people who were willing to listen to me when I needed to get all that stuff off my chest. I sincerely believe that this is where we are slipping off the rails.

The common thread I see in all of these stories are kids who have obviously been feeling alienated and lost for a long time and are grasping at anything and everything to get someone's attention - eventually any attention will do, when really it should be compassionate rational conversation. Kids are totally capable of making good choices - of understanding that the violence or profanity (or whatever is the media's most recent scapegoat) is not the way that real and loving people relate to one another. The way they develop this capability is by reasoned conversation and debate with peers and adults (primarily parents). We as parents are spending waaaaaaaaay to much time concentrating on material wants and working to maintain them instead of devoting a sizeable effort to RELATING with our children. Rather than using "parental control technologies" to raise our kids, here's a thought: let's sit down and watch or listen to something controversial with our kids and have a real honest-to-goodness discussion about it - how it make's them feel, why they connect to it so much, and so on.

Oh yeah, and a solid understanding AND APPLICATION of the Rede (or the Golden Rule, if you prefer) wouldn't hurt, either!

Love and Light,

What I Am Going To Say Is Most Probably Going To Offend... Mar 12th. at 3:35:03 pm EST

Steven John Browne (Pietermaritzburg) Age: 27 - Email

What i am going to say is most probably going to offend some who treat Teens as second class citizens and i will most probably be called a whole lot of names but hey i am used to that now. So here goes.

Unfortunately what is happening there in the US and occasionally in other countries has been coming for a long time. The reason is not as the media would have you believe though. Yes guns are partially resonsible and should be kept away from kids and people who are irresponsible but to totally blame it on guns or the "lost" Youth is to miss the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that this happening because the Youth are routinely having their rights stepped on while hatred is being taught as an acceptable "family value".

Let me put it this way:

What would you do if You were not allowed to choose Your own beliefs but automatically had them chosen for you? What if everybody around You treated You as a second class citizen? What if You were continually fed the idea that You must be Responsible to Youself but when You try to be You get slammed down and told that Your opinions don't matter? What is at the same time You were fed that to be Different to the accepted norm was "evil" and that everyone who is Different has very little or no rights? Where singers routinely bash people because of their Race, Gender, Sexual Preference etc etc etc etc and get Grammy Awards for doing so?

That is the what Teens are surrounded by.

To interject a personal note. I live in South Africa. I was born here. South Africa in my Teens hated anything that was Not White, Male, Christian and Heterosexual and Being a Bi-Sexual with Pagan beliefs (although i didn't know them to be Pagan at that time) i fell foul of 2 of those "standards" (maybe 3 if you take into account that sometimes i feel a delight for femanine things). I remember what it was like to hide my sexuality and my beliefs and the Pain, Anger and Loneliness that i felt. At the same time i was taught nothing but hate so that after a while i began to hate myself for being Bi-Sexual and having the beliefs that i had.

I was lucky in that from young i wrote things down. Every bit of Pain i felt landed up on a Piece of Paper. Others were (and are since only the first 2 of those "Requirements have fallen away in this new South Africa) not so lucky. Teens these days, whether they are South African, American, European or Whatever are being fed this hate while being taught that Creativity is for "Sissies" (called Moffies in South Africa) and not a viable outlet (the "if it doesn't make money it isn't valuable" attitude). The anger has to go somewhere. And it's going in to Violence.

Further restricting the Rights of Children and Teens Will Not Help. It will just create more of a feeling of Alienation. As long as even Presidents and Leaders teach Hatred Above Love and that Being Different Is Paramount To Evil, things will get worse. What is needed is for all those Opposed To That Hate To Stand Up And Put Their Necks Out And Offer Alternatives Based On Unconditional Love (Without The Incessant Apologising That Often Occurs When Those Alternative Don't Conform To Mainstream Ideas). And to teach the Youth that All The Pain And Anger Does Not Have To Be Used For Violence But Can Be Used Through Creativity And Art. That to be Different You Unique Not Evil.

Love and the Brightest of Blessings Whatever Your Path

Sorry For My English, I Will Do My Best) I Think Of... Mar 12th. at 4:05:04 pm EST

Cyberwolf (Montreal, Quebec CA) Age: 30 - Email

(sorry for my English, I will do my best)
I think of what I read here. We need to put a section on this website made by a lawyer that could help teen and not, on how to make retaliation, from a letter of complaint to court counseling. So instead of keeping all inside they can let it go in a good way. Like I would prefer to get out of the closet but Im not sure how I can deal and prepair myself in advance from all kind of harrassment, and even less in my teen years.

So Many Wonderful Points Being Made On This One So Early In... Mar 12th. at 5:38:10 pm EST

Greg (Mesa, Arizona US) Age: 24 - Email

So many wonderful points being made on this one so early in the week!

Upon hearing about Columbine and subsequent incidences of high school violence, I am always forced to think of my own adolescent experiences. I can quite easily see how someone, not quite stable, can be tormented to the point of a voilent explosion. There were days when I hated everyone, when no one would sit with me, talk with me (except to call me "fag", etc.), be seen smiling at me, and it was a badge of honor to torture me. If I didn't have other outlets and other value systems, I would of blown the whole lot of them into their next incarnations.

To call these incidents large-scale "temper tantrums" is inappropriate and insensitive. I do agree that boundaries need to be set with kids. Boundaries make children and adolescents feel safe, but boundaries need to be tempered with letting go. I felt anger rise at this comment; I can only imagine on its impact of those who live in the trenches each day.

Although I think much of the Judeo-Chrisitan bible is tiresome, one of the greatest philosophical questions it presents is "Am I my brother's keeper?" Are we each other's keepers? No. We can not keep anyone from committing any act, good or bad. We are each other's supporters. We do need to care for each other's needs, loves, joys, and empty moments. I very much agree with the person who said that even doubting whether or not we should reach out to Pagan teens, or teens of any variety, is a travesty.

I don't know how to bring this to a thoughtful conclusion. All endings to this discussion seem so trite because of its depth. I can only offer that we need to keep reaching out and making person-to-person connections: go out for coffee, dinner, a movie, go to live theatre, allow our children and ourselves to go places where our hearts are opened for a couple of hours, so we can finally begin to clean collective wounds, provide fertile ground for new growth, and strengthen the wealth of values already in place.
Love to all!

I Was Reading This Book The Other Day On Anorexia. It Was... Mar 12th. at 10:51:02 pm EST

Skye (Sydney) Age: 18

I was reading this book the other day on anorexia. It was talking about how anorexia is not the problem, rather it is the solution to the problem. When I here about things such as school shootings and suicides amongst teens, that's the way I think about them.

It's not necessarily the RIGHT solution, or the ONLY solution, but to the person, it seems like the BEST solution.

If you're a teenager, and you're being picked on and teased by other class mates, and you're a little bit different, there are three option given to you (generally). You can stand up for yourself and retaliate, you can hold it all in you, and let it persist, or you can tell someone about it.

When I was in primary school, I found that telling a teacher or my parents about bullying didn't help, mainly because what could they do? Tell the kids off? That doesn't stop it, it mostly makes things worse. Sometimes I retaliated, but it amused the other kids, so they kept on going. So I chose mostly to hold it all in.

But then after a little while, you can't hold it in any more. I cut my wrists twice. Once quite recently, and the other time quite a while ago. It's the solution to the problem. So why are kids killing kids? Because it's seen as the best option. Those kids at Columbine, they had so many options - tranferring to another school, talking to someone about their problems ... suicide even. They chose to kill their classmates first, and then themselves. These things aren't spontaneous, they're well thought out and planned (to an extent).

It's not TV violence, it's not necessarily the accessibility of fire arms. And it's not the lack of parental or societal guidance. It's the most viable option. Kids - teenagers especially - are vulnerable to hurt. It's an age where you're so easily influenced by others. When a kid picks up a gun and blows another one away, to them, it's not the only option that they have, but it's the best choice at the time. When a teenager kills his/her self, it's not the only option, but it's the most viable choice.

I just think that kids are suddenly realising that one of the easiest ways to end something - such as bullying - is by destroying something else. It's so easy to destroy something rather than to create something worthwhile.

This doesn't really make sense, but it's just what I think :)

After Reading The Article On Tempest Storm And Skimming Through The Other... Mar 13th. at 1:28:54 am EST

Silver Butterfly (Edmonton, Alberta CA) Age: 17 - Email

After reading the article on Tempest Storm and skimming through the other responses to this question, many of my memories that I had locked away came flooding back. I know what it is like to be taunted and teased by classmates and even those one thought were friends.

From grade three, when I changed schools, up to my grade 11 year, I was the outcast. I never thought the same way all the other kids did and they would find this out and bug me about it. I considered several times whether things would just be easier if I killed myself. I came really close a couple of times but I always came to the realization of how many people I would be leaving behind me and I always had to wonder what might happen to my life in the future that maybe it would turn out for the better.

Unfortunately though, I have been one of the lucky ones. I ended up finding people of a like mind or at least people that thought outside the box and accepted me. Other kids are not so lucky. I can understand to some extent where both the kids in Columbine, Taber and most recently, Tempest Smith are coming from. It breaks my heart to read about this things or see them described in graphic detail on the news. These kids didn't go killing themselves or others due to video games, tv or anything like that. They did this because most likely it was the only solution left to may have been spontaneous or well thought out but for them and many other kids who have never fit in it is the only solution to stop the pain that they can see.

The biggest problem that I have with incidents like that of Tempest, Columbine, and other kids killing kids incidents, is that the media has to be right in there. I appoligize if I offend anyone with what I am saying but this is my opinion. I think that the media should give the families and friends some time to grieve and deal with what happened. Instead, the media is immediately in the faces of everyone that was tied in any way to either the victim (the ones that were shot, killed, etc.) as well as those that were tied to the killer (who in my mind is the real victim). What I don't understand is why the press can't simply state the facts and leave it at that for a time until things have calmed down a little and people have had the time to grieve.

As a result of all the media attention these kids get, a good portion of society feels pity for the victim and an immense hatred grows for those that did the actual stabbing, shotting, or whatever. In my mind, these are the ones that need compassion and love the most. Society makes a snap judgement about the real victims being evil and too easily influenced by the video games and what not. I can't see these peers... as being evil. I feel a great deal of compassion for them as well as a great deal of pity. I greatly dislike the classmates that were so cruel in the first place and I agree with many of the other posts in saying that these kids are the ones who should feel guilty. They shouldn't be sheltered by adults because what they did wasn't right in any sense of the term.

May the Lord and the Lady watch over all of those that have lost hope and can't see any other way to end thier pain. And may we, the pagan community reach out to these people and help them in any way that we can... it shouldn't matter what faith they come from if they have lost all their hope and faith... we should be willing to comfort and listen to them all.

Watch Some Talk Shows Sometime. I'm Serious. The Best Answers Are On... Mar 13th. at 3:11:29 am EST

Tanais (Auburn, Washington US) Age: 20

Watch some talk shows sometime. I'm serious. The best answers are on television every day but nobody pays attention. So called, "troubled kids" get on these talk shows all the time and the answer is always the same. The three most popular answers are 1)I do what I want because I like to do it. 2)all my friends do it. 3)My parents are never around so I can get away with it. And 4) I just don't care. Am I the only one sickened to hear such things? We all have been blessed with freedom and responsibility. What I am hearing is kids want all the freedom and none of the responsibility. We can talk about loose laws on gun control or whatever you want. The problem is attitude. To get ahead, we used to have to work very hard for everything we got. Now it's one lucky shot on the stock market or one lucky bet at the nearest horsetrack. Work has become poison!

Don't think for a minute racism is dead either. We've all seen the latest outrage with African-Americans allegedly being unrepresented in the presidential election. (I say allegedly because there has been no formal hearings on the matter) Sometimes I'm truely sickened by the way we kill our own brothers and sisters. We might not be brothers and sisters by blood but we are by species and we kill ourselves. Not only that, but some make a living out of finding more efficient ways to do it; and why? "So we can feel safer at night."

It takes a tragity before anyone is willing to listen. As soon as things look like it's going the right direction, our own distrust and hatred becomes a road block. "Perfect love and Perfect trust". That's more then just another phrase to me. That's an answer. Kids learn from their parents and those around them. If raised in love, maybe they won't learn to hate. Bred in hate, they may never know love.

Would simply eliminating guns in the United States work? I emphatically say no. I have gotten this argument in one of my college discussions right after the school killing in California. What would happen if we eliminate guns from personal use and restrict it only to police and military personel? Never Work!!! First you have the black market where any punk can get a handgun. And second it would violate the bill of rights.

I believe I have ranted on long enough and I do appologize for that. As far as my feelings go, something drastic needs to happen and I'm not talking anything our governing body can do. Our calous attitude needs to be adjusted before our worst fears are realized. More and more senseless death which we had the power to change.

I Believe That Kids Killing Kids Isn't The Only Disturbing Thing. I... Mar 13th. at 3:18:03 am EST

Danielle Hamilton (chicago, Illinois US) Age: 16 - Email

I believe that kids killing kids isn't the only disturbing thing. I think people killing or harming others in general is the main concern. Kids that are pulling these hateful acts are blaming it on the pressures of life and music. Thats a sad excuse, no type of music posesses the urge to cause harm. Kids are killing kids in my opion because of pasted incidents, that harmed them!

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