2. Why Do Kids Kill Kids?

Because we taught them to.  Every video game, every TV show, every car commercial, even cell-phone commercials and of course all the Saturday morning cartoons, are all about insane violence, murders, mutilation, destruction, human bodies exploding and burning. Cute pre-teen Power Rangers commit unthinkable acts of violence and murder, but that’s okay because they are “the good guys.” Violence is the new psychological “normal” and even a small temporary mental instability can set off horrible brutal acts. It happens every day. Everybody’s killing everybody, no special reason. Over a parking place, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or often just for the hell of it to make ourselves feel strong.

We are all brainwashed to some degree by the relentless exposure to casual violence. There is a subtle subconscious “murder mindset” that we are not even aware of, a widespread acceptance that violence is normal. We hardly notice it; we ignore it. Those of us who are disturbed by it, just change the channel. It has become normal.

I have talked with friends who give violent video games to their children, good people who are not violent or insane. They say “it doesn’t matter; it’s just pretend. My kids know it’s not real.” But it has been known and well-documented since the early 1960s that the brain does not distinguish between reality and vivid visual images. Russian athletes used visualization to train their skills in Olympic sports, and it was so effective that now the whole world does, in every sport and in business as well.

We also have known for hundreds of years that hypnosis and self-hypnosis are effective tools for influencing thoughts and actions, widely successful in stop-smoking and weight-loss, for example. We are hypnotizing and brainwashing our kids and ourselves with the constant repetition of  visual images of extreme violence. We are not too stupid to realize this; we are simply ignoring it.

The most basic technique of learning is repetition. We have been repeating the message in thousands of ways, to our kids and ourselves, that violence is normal for human beings to do, that it is funny, and good-guy violence is admirable and heroic. But ask any veteran soldier how heroic it feels to kill someone, or to lose the normal use of his or her  brain forever, or to have an arm or leg (or both) amputated. You may be surprised at their answer. They do not feel powerful and heroic about it. But those are the reality consequences of the acts of violence which we are teaching our children to play with.

People acted shocked when an 8-year-old boy calmly talked on a newscast about how he shot his father and his father’s friend face to face and killed them both. It was not even a very big deal for him. A 16-year-old was asked why he murdered his friend. He told police they had argued earlier in the day, so he went home, got a gun, came back, and killed him because “I felt that he had disrespected me”.

Why are we shocked? How dare we be shocked? Violence was most likely the only form of problem-solving those young murderers had ever seen, the only form of socializing they’d been taught consistently, and they had probably seen it over and over, not thousands, but millions of times (just like statistically most U.S. children by the time they are five or six years old.) Don’t you think that’s a bad idea? Have you even thought about it? Maybe you should think about it.

I remember a generation or two ago, when some parents, mostly hippies, did not let their kids play with toy guns or watch violence on TV. Everybody scoffed at that, and called them weird. Even psychologists insisted that watching violent acts and images would not make children violent or insensitive to cruelty. When more studies in the 80’s and 90’s proved startlingly to the contrary, nobody really noticed. Apparently everybody was too busy and nobody really cared. And by then, video games and violent TV shows were popular multi-billion-dollar businesses.

Look around you. Anywhere in the world, there is unspeakable violence, horror, and mass murder. Take a look at the 10 o’clock news. Every night there’s a selection of totally irrational horrors to report, and some of them are getting closer to your neighborhood. America is a very violent country. Drive-by, freeway, shopping center, and school mass-murders are commonplace. Gang wars are going on in every city, and most of them are just kids trying to feel powerful, trying to be a hero, trying to BE somebody.

It’s not much of a stretch anymore to get on the ten o’clock news. You just kill somebody. That way you get revenge, you get noticed by the world, you become somebody, and you can make a Grand Exit and escape the consequences by killing yourself too. After all, it’s not real. It’s just a game.  But it IS real for everybody whose child was murdered for no good reason, and for the other children who saw them die. Do you have kids? Do you give them video games? Are you crazy?!

When the police call to tell you your son has been shot and killed by some casual acquaintance of his, or your 13 year old daughter is now brain-dead, caught in the crossfire of teen fun on a Saturday night, then what?

If you think “My kids would never get into anything like that.” I assure you, if they go to school– any school, even in the best neighborhood, they already ARE into that. “No,” you insist, “That won’t happen to us; we have taught them the difference between right and wrong.”

No, you haven’t. All you’ve really taught them is that it’s OKAY to assault or kill anybody if you think you’re right and they are wrong. That’s what those thousands of cartoons have taught them, day after day, year after year all their lives. Thousands more times than you could possibly teach them anything else.

What are you going to do about it? Police can’t fix things that are endemic to the very fabric of the society we live in. These days almost everybody breaks the law – running stop-signs, running red lights, parking in the middle of a traffic lane on a busy street. WHY NOT? They know they can get away with it. The police in every city are overwhelmed trying to deal with the growing rate of violent crimes.

Nobody is going to fix this for us. Police forces are hopelessly outnumbered, and laws are meaningless when nobody respects or obeys them, which right now most people don’t. (Just you and me and a few others, and I’m not really too sure about you.) Consider cell-phone and texting while driving – it’s illegal in California because it causes a 400% increase in traffic deaths. Yet you see it everywhere, utterly blatant and unconcealed. “Everybody does it” they say. They don’t really care if they kill somebody, or even if they get killed themselves.

And bicyclists (there are more of them than ever before). They do insane, dangerous and unpredictable things right out in the middle of rush hour traffic lanes. They NEVER stop at any stop sign, and they sail casually  through red lights! They just don’t even think. They are living the fantasy they’re so accustomed to in video games: Death is not real. Other people are not real. It’s all a game.

As a society, one thing is very clear by our habits and activities: We just don’t care very much, and most of us have never seriously considered whether this is really who and what we want to be. We need to decide. We must start taking some responsibility for what we do, and what we don’t do, in this life. Because what we give is what we get. You can call it Karma or the Golden Rule, or even if you don’t believe in either, it’s a law of the universe, and it works whether you believe in it or not.

What we give out into the life-stream is what life returns to us; nobody escapes this universal law.  We have built this society we are now living in, where extreme violence and death are accepted as okay. And only we can change it. Please stop training your children, and yourself, to kill. This will mean making a decision and taking a stand. You can do it, if you care. Make the commitment. And please, don’t put it off any longer; Do it NOW.

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