"And the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth" (Gen. 6:11, 12).
Philadelphia, 1971: Two boys aged 10 and 11 were put on probation following an orgy of beating, raping, robbing and burning in the apartment of an 84-year-old widow. The boys used the ruse of offering to do some shopping for the widow as a means of entrance, then proceeded to wreck the apartment, spray paint graffiti on walls, cut the widow's hair off burn her breast and stomach and rob her of $200. Maule, France, 1972: Two fifteen-year-old youths, bored after watching the local afternoon matinee, went rampaging through liquor cabinets in private homes. With the help of an appropriated .22 rifle they staged a "western-style" shoot-out by blasting out window panes in one residence. In the process, they managed to wound two children and hold off police for several hours. Sydney, 1973: A 57-year-old driver returning home one night dies suddenly and violently from a knife plunged through his chest. Motive for the murder — unknown. Springfield, Massachusetts, 1973: A seven-year-old girl dies from stab wounds received at the hands of her eight-year-old companion after he became incensed because she apparently told him a lie. Murder weapon was a four-inch steak knife taken from his parents' house. Chelyabinsk, Russia, 1974: Four drunken adults beaten to death by two teenagers. Pasadena, California, 1975: An 87-year-old lady suffers a ruptured spleen after being knocked down with a lead pipe wielded by a 13-year-old purse-snatching assailant. Isolated instances of delinquency? A few eccentric youths letting off steam? The actions of a handful of maladjusted teenagers? No way. Overindulgence in Violent Crime. The younger generation is currently involved in a mounting wave of violent crime that is virtually unprecedented in the annals of recent history. The "kid's stuff" of yesteryear, such as stealing apples, pencils and hubcaps, is now passť. Today the "in things" are muggings, rapings, homicides and assaults. FBI crime statistics for 1974 show that 44 percent of murders in the United States were committed by persons under 25 years of age. One tenth of these total homicides were the work of minors — youths under 18. In the city of Los Angeles, the number of juveniles arrested for serious or violent crimes showed a shocking 1600 percent increase during the 20 years following 1952. And in New York City the number of incidents of rape, murder, robbery and kidnapping perpetrated by youth rose by more than 100 percent between 1972 and 1973. Gangs of teenagers have graduated to the "big leagues" just like their adult counterparts. No longer are switchblades and home-made zip guns the main line of defense, but automatic rifles, police revolvers, bazookas, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails are fast becoming popular with juveniles in gangland. And many are quick to use such weapons at the slightest provocation. According to one community worker in Detroit "They drive up in a car, roll down the windows at an intersection and blaze away" (Newsweek, July 21, 1975). Juvenile offenders in Europe aren't far behind their American counterparts. In France, the number of youths below 18 years of age appearing in court virtually tripled from 1958 to 1973. Violent juvenile crime is particularly prevalent in many of the newly built suburban areas. Youngsters of 13 have been involved in auto theft, purse snatching and breaking and entering. In not so gay Paris, two thirds of all bank robbers caught in 1973 were. under 25. In some parts of France, youthful crime has reached such serious proportions that one assistant mayor was prompted to say: "... The number one problem posed to the large city is the security of its inhabitants in light of delinquence and rising vandalism." When in Rome? The story is the same in the "Eternal City," where gangs of youths in Rome have been instrumental in armed robberies and kidnappings. Roughly one third of all arrests made in West Germany are of persons under 21 years of age. A sharp increase in juvenile delinquency has been reported even in peaceful Switzerland. During the last few years, one half of all criminal offenders have been under age 20. In Sweden the crime rate jumped some 90 percent during the 10 years following 1963. One concerned Swedish authority was quoted as saying: "The most disturbing thing is the alarming increase in wanton attacks by youngsters on people in the streets and on old people in their homes for no apparent reason, no motive" (U.S. News and World Report, July 30, 1973). Violence and crime are also fast becoming epidemic among the youth of Britain. In 1974, 31,000 youngsters from ages 10 to 16 were arrested in London. An additional one thousand were under age 10. A government report showed that nine out of ten British schoolboys have committed at least one theft by the time they leave school at age 16. Youth-generated violence is also rife on Britain's buses and railways. Gangs of 20 to 30 have been known to "storm the gates" in order to force passage without paying. Once on the train or bus: "They slash seats, spray paint from aerosol canisters over walls and windows, and walk on the ceilings by hanging upside down from the supporting straps" (Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 1975). A Disturbing Downward Trend. Equally as disquieting are some of the long-term implications of this youthful crime wave. According to Sydney's National Times: "Today, most violent crime is being committed by people aged between 15 and 25 years. This is a significant long-term social change which in effect adds a huge new group of potential criminals to the population." British Home Secretary Sir John Hill also recently reported: "What must be disturbing is the indication that these young people are acquiring a professionalism in criminal expertise at a much younger age." Trends among juveniles in the United States give a great deal of substance to Mr. Hill's warning. Young gangs that populate America's cities by the hundreds now include 9-and 10-year-old criminal neophytes. The "rat pack" has been replaced by the "mouse pack" in many large metropolitan areas. One 11-year-old made no bones about his involvement in such underworld activities: "When I have the time to case a house, I'm a burglar — that's really what I am.... But most of the time I need the money and can't take that much time. So I'll rip off a purse from an old lady. Nah, you don't try to hurt them, but if it's me and my money or them — well, it's them'" (National Observer, December 22, 1973.) A New Generation of Killers. Why the recent upsurge in youthful violence? Experts feel a number of factors are involved, which include: 1) the disintegration of family life; 2) lack of discipline in both the home and school environment; 3) prevalence of violence in the media (see box next page); 4) lack of deterrents in the juvenile justice system ("revolving-door" justice as it's called); 5) increasing amounts of leisure time; 6) influence of drugs; and 7) easy access to guns arid other lethal weapons. Many of these factors are discussed, at greater length in the other articles in this issue and in our booklets such as Crime Can Be Stopped... Here's How and The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. Suffice it to say here that sociological conditions now extant in modern Western society have combined to produce a new generation of violence-prone youth who are markedly different from their predecessors. As reporter Ted Morgan wrote in the New York Times Magazine: "It is as though our society had bred a new genetic strain, the child murderer who feels no remorse and is scarcely conscious of his acts." Wayne Mucci, director of the American Bar Association Institute of Judicial Administration Juvenile Justice, Standards Project, put it this way: "Most kids tend to be highly impulsive and seek immediate gratification. They didn't plan to murder the person they were robbing, but it seemed to happen if someone got in their way.... It seemed incidental." Prophecies for Our Day. Centuries ago, Jesus Christ likewise spoke of a violent generation in His famous Olivet prophecy recorded in the 24th chapter of. Matthew. He compared global conditions that would be extant just prior to His return with those that existed during the time of Noah: "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man" (Matt. 24:37). Like most of us today, Noah lived in the midst of a violent generation (see Gen.. 6:11, 12). But Christ didn't stop there. He went on to elaborate by stating: "And because wickedness [lawlessness] is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold" (Matt. 24:12). He likewise inspired the apostle Paul to write about the "perilous times" that would be extant in the latter days (II Tim. 3:1-5, KJV). The Old Testament prophets were also filled with the same message. In numerous passages they directed many a stinging indictment at the violent generations of their day. Here are just a few: Hosea 4:1-2: "Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or kindness, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds and murder follows murder." Hosea 7:1-2: "For they deal falsely, the thief breaks in, and the bandits raid without. But they do not consider that I remember all their evil works." Isaiah 59:6-7: "Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways." Amos 2:7: "They... trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and turn aside the way of the afflicted." Jeremiah 22:17: "But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence." A Warning for Our Day. Needless to say, this epidemic of violence and bloodshed among the peoples of ancient Israel and Judah did not go unnoticed by God. Repeatedly He warned His people through the prophets that continuation of such criminal conduct would lead to disastrous national consequences. Notice a few more Old Testament examples specifically given to the House of Judah. To the people of his day, the prophet Jeremiah wrote: "For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place... then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers for ever" (Jer. 7:5, 6). Also, in the 22nd chapter, Jeremiah wrote: "Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their people" (verses 3-5). Unfortunately, the nation of Judah, like her sister nation the House of Israel, didn't heed these warnings. Because those people refused to turn their national crime patterns around, they ultimately paid the penalty in the form of war, invasion, famine, loss of nationhood and national captivity. Today the same cause-and-effect factors are at work in this generation. Either we clean up the crime and violence in our cities, on our streets, among our youth and in our homes or we must be prepared to suffer the consequences. As God told ancient Israel: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live" (Deut. 30:19).
THE MASS MEDIA AND THE VIOLENT GENERATION
London Daily Telegraph: Those who claim that programmes depicting violence have no influence on children should take a peep at school play grounds. Boys have always fought. But today it is no longer with fists or wrestling holds that such fights are conducted. The Kung Fu kick, the karate chop and the boot in the groin are favorites now" (Feb. 17, 1975). Dr. David Abrahamsen, a psychoanalyst specializing in behavioral disorders: "There are no doubts about it [violence in media], it serves as a stimulus.... It can trigger hostile actions." Dr. James Short, visiting professor of law and sociology at Stanford University: "We don't need to have violence liberated.... I'm not suggesting a direct connection [with television], but it's inconceivable that there is no effect. I don't view it with equanimity." Dr. Marvin Wolfgang: "A display of violence has more of a response.... people imitate violence." New York social worker: "These kids talk about shooting someone in the same way they describe someone being shot in a movie and shooting someone themselves. To them, everything is one big movie." Report of the Surgeon General to Senate committee: "The overwhelming consensus ... indicates that televised violence indeed does have an adverse effect on certain members of our society."