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Targeting Youth with Violence

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People around the world were deeply affected when 20-year-old Adam Lanza murdered 27 victims in Sandy Hook Elementary School before committing suicide. This tragedy has sparked worldwide controversy over the source of school violence. Young people increasingly see violence as rewarding. Youths are deceived into thinking that wrong actions have no more consequences than a video game they can reset at will. Who or what is the real source of this kind of thinking?

He is the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). He “deceives the whole world” by controlling the media airwaves and broadcasting wrong attitudes (Revelation 12:9). Christ said, “He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). He is Satan the Devil, a very real and evil spirit that seeks to destroy us through lies.

Satan especially targets youths, and they are easily influenced if we do not take care. And if he destroys them, he eliminates the future generation. This has been his goal from the start!

Satan lied to Eve in the very beginning, saying, “you will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). He told her that sin held no consequence. He even made sin look exceedingly rewarding: “in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). Today, Satan uses a similar approach to lure young people into violence, equating violent conduct with maturity and sophistication.  But where Satan’s approach to Eve was one-on-one, today Satan also uses mass media to spread his message. In the majority of action movies, the hero is rewarded with fame, fortune and sex if they kill the “bad guys.” In video games, there are rewards for killing as many opponents as possible, with bonus points for headshots! In many games war and mass murder have no consequences, and if the player dies, they are able to reset the game and start again. Is it any surprise that someone would believe such brutality has no consequences in real life? To them they can reset and start over.

Indiana University Center for Sports Policy and Conduct concluded in a study on media violence: “The effect of media violence on our children is no longer open to debate. Countless studies have shown that a steady diet of television, movie, music, video game, and Internet violence plays a significant role in the disheartening number of violent acts committed by America’s youth. We must now devote ourselves to reducing the amount and degree of violence in our media and to shielding our children from such harmful depictions.”

News reports have long echoed these effects. “Children who get heavy doses of media violence may be at greater risk of violent behavior as teenagers—even when a range of other influences is considered, according to a new study. The findings, the authors say, add to evidence that violence-packed TV shows, movies and video games can affect some children’s behavior. ‘Even in conjunction with other factors, our research shows that media violence does enhance violent behavior’” (Reuters, November 26, 2008).

God makes it clear that sin brings consequences. We are beginning to see greater effects in society from breaking His commandment “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). His first warning to Adam was “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in that day you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Paul echoed this admonition, saying “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We must remember to encourage the youth to “put on the whole armor of God” that they “may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” and shun violence (Ephesians 6:11).

If you are concerned and want to know more about how to protect your children from violence, order our free booklet Successful Parenting, God’s Way.