Over the last several decades, news reports have documented an ominous trend—the growth of disturbing and increasingly shocking behavior in young people, especially in affluent nations of the world.
Over the last several decades, news reports have documented an ominous trend—the growth of disturbing and increasingly shocking behavior in young people, especially in affluent nations of the world. In the 1960s, "free speech" and "free love" movements blossomed on college campuses, fueled by marijuana and LSD. Street gangs turned inner city schools into "blackboard jungles." Subsequent decades saw the rejection of commonly accepted values, a decline of standards, a rise in teen pregnancies, skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted diseases among youth and an alarming surge in adolescent suicides. In recent years, classrooms have become chaotic as undisciplined students defy the authority of teachers, and schools become killing fields as disturbed children gun down peers and teachers.
While perplexed parents ponder their inability to control their children, and bewildered experts try to fathom why privileged children have become so troubled and dangerous, few seem to grasp the true significance of this disturbing situation. The Bible, however, reveals the reasons behind these growing problems. Prophecies given long ago are coming alive today!
Nearly 3,000 years ago, Isaiah delivered to the rebellious children of Israel prophecies that have clear implications for generations living at the end of the age. God warned: "I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them… the child will be insolent [rude, disrespectful, defiant] toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable… as for My people, children are their oppressors" (Isaiah 3:4, 5, 12). Jeremiah wrote of children who would not receive correction and have forgotten God (Jeremiah 2:30, 32). Ezekiel wrote of children who "rebelled against Me" and "did not walk in My statutes" (Ezekiel 20:21). While these prophecies had an initial fulfillment in ancient times, the ultimate fulfillment is erupting in today's headlines!
A math teacher in England recently published a diary of five days in a classroom, in which he describes repeated episodes of open defiance of teacher authority, outbursts of profanity between students and towards teachers, sexually active teenagers who cannot do basic math and students simply refusing to do assignments (The Sunday Telegraph, April 18, 2004). A teacher in Phoenix, Arizona went to court to restore order in her classroom, and is writing a book describing the perils of modern classroom teachers—titled Violated No More. An American newspaper reports that "public school teachers around the country are turning to the courts in a final attempt to protect themselves from children who can't be kept in check by the existing disciplinary rules" (Christian Science Monitor, April 23, 2004). These defiant behaviors have increased as schools have abandoned corporal punishment, and fail to report incidents or enforce any type of discipline to avoid lawsuits by students claiming that their rights have been violated! Today, parents and teachers struggle with—or ignore—behaviors that would not have been tolerated 30 years ago! Children also terrorize other children to conform to perverted styles, norms and values. But why have children become so defiant and violent? What is the cause of the problem, and the true significance of this tragic situation?
Dr. Robert Shaw, a medical doctor and experienced child and family psychiatrist, has published a devastating analysis of this growing plague of defiant, joyless and selfish children. Dr. Shaw's conclusions confirm the biblical instructions about how to rear children—and how not to rear them. Dr. Shaw asserts: "Something terrible is happening to our children. We have lost touch with what they need from us to grow and thrive… we have created enormous numbers of children who are disaffected, alienated, amoral, emotionally stunted and even violent… While the media is far from innocent, the bulk of the blame lies with faddish, both neglectful and overindulgent, child-rearing practices that experts have promoted for the past three decades… These children are not an aberration. They are the natural result of the way we have been raising them. They have been developmentally crippled by the child-rearing practices that have spread like a virus from home to home in this country" (The Epidemic, Shaw, jacket, p. 10). In simple terms, we have been misled and misinformed about how to rear children, and we are reaping the terrible and inevitable consequences!
Dr. Shaw continues: "Our culture may well be breeding a generation of unattached, predatory children" because busy parents focused on their own concerns "rarely place limits on their children or permit them to experience frustration, and they overlook their children's moral and spiritual development" (p. 4). He asserts that "children are being injured in their emotional development by being allowed to behave in totally inappropriate ways" (p. 15). According to Dr. Shaw, children need love, stability, structure, supervision, correction—and clear instructions about right and wrong that are modeled within the family and supported by social institutions—yet these important factors are disappearing in our secular, self-absorbed, divorce-ridden societies.
In the words of this expert, we are rearing a generation of damaged children! Children are damaged by "politically correct" ideas that dismiss the vital role of daily mothering that promotes attachment, affection, security and shapes the brains of infants. Their development has been damaged by busy lives that rob us of real family time, and by the absence of fathers as solid examples in the home (Shaw, pp. 26-27). Placating children, and rewarding a lack of real accomplishment, destroys character and discourages initiative. Trying to negotiate with defiant children simply undermines respect for authority (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Dr. Shaw warns that the child-rearing attitudes and practices followed by many parents today "constitute a prescription for disaster" (p. xii).
Long ago, God said: "Train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6). Children should be taught the laws of God (Deuteronomy 4:1-10; 6:1-9) and given supervision, correction and encouragement (Proverbs 29:15, 17; Ephesians 6:1-4). God also warned: "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (Proverbs 13:24). These simple but fundamental principles have been ridiculed and rejected by modern child-rearing "experts" who are "spouting total nonsense" (Shaw, p. 215)—and we are reaping the tragic results! Yet all this was foretold by the prophets. Isaiah warned: "Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths" (Isaiah 3:12; 9:16). Hosea prophesied that "they sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind" and he warns parents: "Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children… [you] have begotten pagan [strange] children" (Hosea 8:7; 4:6; 5:7). The joyless, vulgar, defiant, predatory, pleasure-seeking, out-of-control children who recognize no higher authority than their own desires are the products of our misguided age. The Bible predicted that this would occur in the last days just before the return of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:1-4). We need to wake up—because these prophecies are coming alive today!