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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: 18,302,129  

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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 

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

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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!

Why Are Kids Killing Kids. That's A Loaded Question, First Let's State... Mar 13th. at 10:03:16 am UTC

Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar Saba, Israel) Age: 15 - Email

Why are Kids killing Kids.
That's a loaded question, first let's state a few facts; Kids are cruel, they're devious and sometimes down right evil, I'm 15, in Junior high I was teased and picked on every day, I told my friends, my teachers, my parents, nothing did it.
So I went through Hell for a few yars now high school is better a clean slate, now that I've developed and "attitude problem" and formed my own opnions and ideals i have no problem standing up to people who give me shit.
The point is kids kill Kids becasue sometimes we feel other kids desrve to die.
They don't, but you try being picked on for a few years and see how you feel.
kids who actually go through with this have serious problems, believe me, I know the difference between right and wrong, but when you have a chemical imbalance in your system stuff can be very distorted.
People who cuicide do it so that others feel guilty, it's true, that's their legacy guilt, same with murdurers and rapists, they us to look at our selves and say "this is becasue of us, we made them do this" crap, if people were stronger they'd stand up for themselves, tell people and stand up to yourself.
In the end you'll realise that you'r the strong one becasue you don't need to put down people to feel big.

blesses be

I Think That One Of The Most Overlooked Reasons That Schools Have... Mar 13th. at 11:04:14 am UTC

Syber Moonlight (Tallahassee, Florida US) Age: 35 - Email

I think that one of the most overlooked reasons that schools have become increasingly violent is simple. Schools have simply become too big and suburbanized for many students to belong, to have a place, to even be known personally by their teachers and other adults. When my parents were in school, if you had a pulse, you were recruited for sports teams, for the band, for the choir. You didn't have to have any special gifts, every warm body was needed. There was a place for virtually everyone. As schools have gotten larger, increasingly, there is more and more competition between students, and it is harder for students to find their own place where they are loved and supported.

As far as parents are concerned, let's get many teens tell their parents about school difficulties (I never did)? And, if your child tells you that she or he is being harassed at school, how much can a parent really do? The parents have been systematically excluded from having a role in many schools, and as parents, we have trusted school administrators and teachers to create a safe and welcoming place for our kids since we can't be there with them every day.

Sadly, we can't trust that this is the case, and I think parents need to be far more vigilant in pushing school districts to invest in smaller schools, higher pay for teachers, and in general, creating a better place for our kids. If they are not willing to do this, then we should consider creating charter schools or sending our kids to private schools.

Why Are Kids Killing Kids? I Think That This Question Has Several... Mar 13th. at 11:23:14 am UTC

Joanna Ball (Madison, Ohio US) Age: 21 - Email

Why are kids killing kids? I think that this question has SEVERAL answers and several conditions have led to the state of this country today. Perhaps I should outline the first ones that pop in my head.
1) The American People's ACCEPTANCE of Violence as a Whole. Pick up your remote control for your TV and flip through the channels, Count how many subjects of shows do not contain Sex or Violence. Notice how Sex is associated with Violence, eg; James Bond, Every "Action Adventure" movie, and so forth. This has established a very Unhealthy relationship of Sex and Violence in America. A HUGE contributor and a Huge favorite of several adolescants is the WWF, wrestling federation. Almost every 12 year old boy I know loves watching wrestling. Not that I am blaming anyone, I am just making a point.
2) TIME: American children have way too much time on their hands. And while leisure time is nice, it is very important as to how one spends their spare time, which in many families is Unsupervised and Unmonitored. Once again, I am not attacking anyone or any way of life, but I don't see kids from closeknit and "involved" families opening fire on their school mates. Now, what do our children do in their spare time? When I was little (10 years ago), we were too poor for a Nintendo. My mom told me to "go play outside" and I did. I had many wonderful adventures in my back yard and I recieved my share of fresh air and exercise. Now try to tell a kid to "go play outside", they will look at you like you just stepped off the Mother Ship. Kids have lost their Creative Abilities. If they don't have an electrical outlet near, they don't know what to do! (Check out the Current Obesity Stats on kids today, what is it like 60%???)
1) Video Games...Many of the same Video games our kids play are used by the United States Military in training soldiers hand eye coordination AND as a tool of Desensitizing ones acceptance of violence. And we don't think these Video Games will hurt our kids? (I am not talking about Mario Kart here, Check out Resident Evil or others of the same category, The ones with the adjustable Blood spatter level and detail of victims Faces and Gore).
3) Music and TV...Well, You know what I am talking about here.
4) THE LOSS OF SOCIETY AS COMMUNITY ORIENTED. The Focus of America is on the INDIVIDUAL, Not on The Good of the community as a whole. This is a reflection of the Overall Loss of Pagan ideals. In America, the emphasis is on You, the Individual. Our schools don't teach the impact of how a Community needs to stick together for the success of the Community as a whole. Instead we teach our kids to do whatever they have to do to get "ahead" whatever that means. This teaches people an Indifference to their fellow Earth. Kids need to understand that They aren't the only shark in the sea, that we all need to work together, in harmony with our Mother Earth.
5) The changing structure of the American Family. I hold Commercialism 90% responsible in this category. Every second of our normal daily life, we are bombarded with commercialism. "Oh, you have to have nice cars, designer clothes, so many toys you lose your ability to be creative, etc. America is run by BIG CORPORATE Interests telling Us what we Need to buy to Be "SUCCESSFUL". This tells parents that they have to make 40 thousand a year minimum or they aren't "providing" the proper environment for their children. And what happens when little Jonny doesn't have designer clothes? His little school friends harass and humiliate him because he is "poor". Kids are cruel and I blame that on Corporate America and the Peoples inability to tell Corporate America enough Is Enough!
6) Trickle Down Theory. YES IT HAS AN IMPACT. EVerything has an Impact, we are all Connected and Interlinked. But We aren't teaching this relationship to our kids! If Universities pay Economic teachers to teach Trickle down theory..Umm I think It means something.
7)I think that the Most important thing one can do while raising Children is too establish a Comfort Level with your child! Talk to your kids about what is going on and don't set standards they may not be able to reach. Let your child know it is Ok if they don't quite fit in, I certainly don't want to be a part of "the popular crowd today". Teach your children Compassion and Tolerance! Teach them some people follow the crowd and some don't and that It is OK. Don't just ask them what they did in school today, Ask them HOW THEY FEEL about their school. I am sure once you start talking about feelings you will be quite surprised by what they say. And for Goddess' Sake, If your kid is not fitting in in school and feels alienated, Then It is Your responsibility to find something else for them to fit into. Children need a Support System! And one more thing- TURN OFF THE TV!

I Have To Say That Even The Zero Tolerence Policies That Schools... Mar 13th. at 11:33:34 am UTC

Kaylara Nightshade (Ocean Twp., New Jersey US) Age: 19 - Email

I have to say that even the zero tolerence policies that schools have are not enforced. My brother who is twelve goes to a school that has such a policy. But he has been routinely harrassed, beaten, and bullied, with out the school doing hardly anything. The other kids involved were spoken to, but not actually disiplined in any way. Do you think that their parents were called?
I don't have the answer to this weeks question, but I think that schools need to practice what they preach.

Children Killing That So Far Different From Men Killing Men... Mar 13th. at 12:20:50 pm UTC

Deagan (Jacksonville, Florida US) Age: 21 - Email

Children Killing Children...Is that so far different from men Killing men, and Women taking the lives of Other Women?... I fear not. Children have a far shorter childhood now than ever. innocence and Wonder has been given up in the place of mass culture and popularity. When you go to your local schools, you see not happy children playing and learning, but minature adults mocking and cursing each other, dragging themselves down into an increasing degenerative world. Recently we have lost a young member of our community, and the death of Tempest Smith. Is to me, the last and final straw. Our politicians and focus groups call for control over the media, the ideas, and the focus of faith. Our Children do not need faith, they need parents and friends. They need a world to explore in innocence until they choose to become adults. Our Children slaughter each other for they feel they have no other recourse, or even more tragically they take their own lives before they have time to blossom. Forced into a position by mockery, fear, and hatred. Values instilled by their parents, and the media. Despite Our tradition of vocality and the illumination of the media, our position has not improved, I fear for the future of our children and indeed our faith. if even inncocent children are not safe, what shall become of us? Our Children are the hope for the future...Will mine even live to see their promise of life fulfilled? Or shall they too be taken away. I for one will no longer stand for this, it is time not for calm words, but for the heat and fire of passion. We MUST make it known that as a community this is intolerable whatever the Child's Faith.

I walk not in Light, but in fear and readiness.
See not that your own Children are taken from you, Let us do something.
The time is NOW.
Walk All of you in safety....

Actually, Kids Have Been Killing One Another For A Long Time. We... Mar 13th. at 12:41:29 pm UTC

Aed Rua (Prophetstown, Illinois US) Age: 35 - Email

Actually, kids have been killing one another for a long time.

We need to put what is happening today into some kind of historical perspective. Are this decade's school shooters really any worse than last decade's gang bangers? Or than the Hitlerjugend in the 1930s? Or than the Komsomol under Stalin? Or than the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution? Or the Khmer Rouge, most of whom were teens and pre-teens? Or than teenage settlers slaughtering Indians? Or teenage Indians slaughtering other teenage Indians? Or than any of the other tribal warriors, freedom fighters, gang members, and other assorted killers, young and old, of every ethnic group, religion, sex, and race throughout several million years of blood-drenched human history?

Violence has been with us for a very long time. We should know this. If anyone can see these events in the light of what has gone before, it should be we, who are reviving religions with thousands of years behind them.

The rage, hate, and violence of our school shooters is not new. The expression is. The current fashion in violence is what has changed, not the impetus toward violence, which is eternal.

Why, then, has opening fire in schools suddenly become fashionable among young killers? Well, for one thing, as a result of adult examples. "Going postal" has been a popular way of expressing frustration and anger among sociopathic adults for several years now, and people tend to do what they know can be done, whether they hear about it from television, or newsreels, or newspapers, or bards, or word of mouth. As soon as one teenage killer "does a Columbine", others hear about it, and think to do it. This also, is not new, not really.

Of course, the Rambo set has diffused the knowledge of how to strip, oil, put back together, lock, load, and fire an AK blindfolded quite widely through American society. While firearms are a very old part of our culture, the "cammo warrior" mentality is not. Likewise, the Tim McVeighs of the world have made sure that many, many people know how to make explosives with common household chemicals. This they would have done with or without the internet, even if they had to write it longhand. Teenage killers of today find that mass violence is rather more feasable than twenty years ago, and this plays a role.

Violent vieogames and movies no doubt play some role, but really, any more than the violent propaganda of the last century, or the stories which inspired Celtic warriors to revel in slaughter? Given the remarkable skill our ancestors had in killing, I rather doubt it.

A lot of people are doing everything they can to capitalize on these killings, to use them to promote hysteria and to advance a totalitarian agenda. We could, of course, censor our media, ban guns and common, household chemicals, turn our schools into mini-prisons, destroy the internet, and hunt down deviants.

But the only result would be that the Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of tomorrow would find a different way to express rage and hate. Perhaps they would skin a single enemy alive, or burn someone to death with gasoline (hard to ban, that). Would that really be worth giving up our freedom?

In the end, the sad fact is that we must do what every generation has done with violence. We must live with it, channel it to more productive ends, if possible, and teach our own kids the values that keep them from turning into casual killers. If we teach honor, discipline, truth, great-heartedness, moral courage, loyalty, and gentleness, to name a few good values, we can probably help reduce the numbers of killers. If we live these values, perhaps we can reduce the numbers even more.

But we can't make everybody teach good values to their kids, no matter how much power we give to the censorship squad. Nor, even if we somehow entirely eliminated violence, could we ever make our children immortal.

I Don't Have A Traditional Response To Post. In Light Of All... Mar 13th. at 12:54:16 pm UTC

Randall Stracener (Leesville, Louisiana US) Age: 18 - Email

I don't have a traditional response to post. In light of all the anti-pagan happenings in the news, and especially in light of the suicide of Tempest Smith, I have written an extremely pissed-off piece, and wanted to share it.
It won't win any of us any points with the mainstream, but i tneeded to be said.

"Never Again the Burning"

And alone
a young man weeps
at an old man's bedside
cover the heartache
cover the old man's eyes
cover your sorrow
before they catch you clinging
covered in snow
a young man's crying
lost and alone
without the flame to guide him
we cling to our youth
let us never forget the past
we cling to anything
and nothing is all that lasts

And we cry
oceans of blood and sweat
we built the city on the bones of the dead
It's alive
with the ghosts of a deadly past
we are alone without the flame to guide us

sweet mary
like I told you to
away the consequence
you learn
when there's no more to reach for

A young man dies
at the hands of a senator
the frontlines are full
at the hands of a government
bloated and blue
choking on it's own two feet
we'll pull through
America in the red

there's nothing left for us here
we took it all and we threw it to the wind
a glint in the eye of an old man dying
is the burdon in the hands of the young men everywhere
and they said

sweet mary
like I taught you to
away the consequence
you learn the most
when there's nothing to reach for

I knew a girl
she took the hardest way
with liberty for all
and all you stupid martyrs
on the cover of magazines
We never made the front page
but we still learned

Life isn't easy
but I know it wasn't meant to be
with blood, sweat, and tears
we build a new democracy
on the bones of old men
and their dead philosophies
let the lion have his way
we will rise again some day

Never again the burning
never again the burning
never again the burning
never again the burning

We are alive
we are awake
we see the things
That you deny
We are aware
we'll have our way
We will rise again
some day
we will rise again
some day
we will rise again
Some day

The old ways are the hardest ways.

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