Truth is the beginning of wisdom…


Posted by straight shooter on May 2, 2007 under Social Concerns

Christian researcher George Barna says the recent massacre at Virginia Tech should alert parents to take a hard look at how a culture that glamorizes sex and violence is impacting young adults.

In an article on his website, Barna said he is sympathetic toward the parents of Seung-Hui Cho, the 23-year-old Virginia Tech student who murdered 32 people at the Blacksburg campus on April 16 before killing himself. However, he says it is important to look at trends in child development and parenting to see how culture influences children.

Barna’s studies on parenting and child development led him to offer a series of facts and observations related to the Virginia Tech situation …

1. By the time an American child is 23 years old, as was the killer in Virginia, he will have seen countless murders among the more than 30,000 acts of violence to which he is exposed through television, movies and video games.

2. By the age of 23, the average American will have viewed thousands of hours of pornographic images, which diminish the dignity and value of human life.

3. After nearly a quarter century on earth, the typical American will have listened to hundreds of hours of music that fosters anger, hatred, disrespect for authority, selfishness, and radical independence.

4. The typical worldview of a person in their early twenties promotes self-centeredness, the right to happiness and fulfillment, the importance of personal expression in all forms, the necessity of tolerating aberrant or immoral points of views, allows for disrespect of other people and use of profanity, and advances forms of generic spirituality that dismiss the validity of the Judeo-Christian faith. Largely propelled by postmodern thought, the typical worldview of young people does not facilitate respect for life, acceptance of the rule of law, or the necessity of hard work, personal sacrifice, paying the dues or contributing to the common good. Barna noted that only about 2% of today’s teenagers possess a biblical worldview that acknowledges the existence of God, Satan and sin, the availability of forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ, and the existence of absolute moral principles provided in the Bible.

5. The average adolescent spends more than 40 hours each week digesting media, and the typical teenager in America absorbs almost 60 hours of media content each week. For better or worse, the messages received from the media represent a series of unfiltered, unchaperoned worldview lessons.

6. It appears that as many as one out of every five young people is or has been under the influence of mood-altering medications, some of whose long-term side effects are not fully understood by the medical community. Drugging children has become one of the ways in which we have coped with other issues.

7. Stress levels have been steadily rising among young children over the past couple of decades. A variety of factors have contributed to such stress, including parental acrimony and divorce, household financial troubles, media-fed expectations regarding materialism, overscheduling of children, bullying, physical abuse within the home, and excessive peer pressure.

8. One-third of the nation’s teenagers report having been in a physical fight at least once in the last year. Nearly one out of every five 9th through 12th grade students has carried a gun, knife or club in the past month.

9. Education, both in the home and outside of it, provides diminishing emphasis upon the development of character, and increasing emphasis upon meeting academic performance standards, especially through standardized testing.

10. Growing numbers of children seek to make their way through an increasingly complex life without the traditional safety net comprised of a loving and supportive family, a stable circle of supportive peers, teachers who know and help nurture the child, and a community of faith that assists in giving meaning to life and a sense of belonging.

11. Most young people admit that they feel as if they do not receive sufficient attention from their parents; do not have enough good friends whom they can count on; are unsettled about their own future; have personal spiritual perspectives but not much of a sense of spiritual community; lack role models; and do not feel that they have intrinsic value.

In his article, Barna says the Virginia Tech shooting should spur society to look beyond issues such as gun control and see how such incidents can be avoided. It is easy, he says, to examine that tragedy and suggest such solutions as “Ah, there was a gun — let’s have gun control. Ah, he was having some mental health issues — let’s talk about drug medication regulation and so forth.”

But such a response is “superficial,” he continues. “Now in some ways [such reactions are] not surprising, because we also know that most parents think they’re doing a good job parenting,” Barna offers. “You know, other parents aren’t as good as they are, their own kids are doing just fine, there are no issues here.”

But the Christian researcher says his group’s work has made it clear that parents who are concerned about the culture’s influence must monitor their children’s use of various media.

“When we study parents who are really effective at raising great kids, we [have] found that one of the things that those parents had in common is that they did manage the media intake of their children very carefully,” he shares. “They would refuse to let them watch certain programs; [and] they allowed them to watch others, but they would talk about the content.”

Barna encourages parents to set high standards and expectations for their children. He also makes it clear that he is not implying that Cho’s parents neglected their responsibilities.