Kids Who Kill

  America remains in shock over the tragedy in Jonesboro last week—the cold-blooded murder of four children and their teacher. We’re shocked in part because of the cherubic appearance of the children accused of gunning down their classmates. This is but the latest in a series of recent schoolyard slaughters. Last December a 14-year-old boy shot and killed three girls at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky as they took part in a prayer meeting. In October, a Pearl Mississippi, boy shot nine high-school students, killing two. Youth crime is now so severe that all but one state has lowered the age at which violent juvenile offenders may be tried as adults. What’s happening to our children? The first thing we must understand is that only a biblical worldview of human nature can make sense of these murders. The Bible makes two things clear about humanity. First, we are created in the imago Dei, the image of God, and knowledge of right and wrong is implanted on the human heart. But we're also warned that we live in a fallen world—and that the human heart is desperately wicked. These two facts require any civilized society to make the moral training of its young its number one priority. This education must take place everywhere—at home, in church, in school and in our popular culture. Children must be civilized, their consciences trained. But we live in an era when families have broken down, and busy parents neglect their duties. The church sounds an uncertain trumpet. Schools don't dare teach right and wrong because it's considered politically incorrect. And popular culture? It's sick. Television, films, and music treats violence as normal. The fact is that our communities do not share a moral standard on which to base the informing and training of the conscience. The message our kids are getting is that morality is whatever you chose it to be, and nobody has the right to prescribe any ethical standards. So what do we end up with? Sweet-looking kids who commit cold-blooded murders. The great criminologist James Q. Wilson says all his studies have led to the same conclusion: Crime begins when children are not given adequate moral training, when they do not develop internal restraints on impulsive behavior. I see our failure to achieve this in the eyes of the kids I visit in prison—the steely stares of 16-year old killers with no regard for human life. The barbarians in our midst are our own kids because we have failed to civilize them. The shock isn’t that kids kill kids; It’s that it doesn’t happen more often. As the scripture puts it, we’ve sown the wind, now we’re reaping the whirlwind. The solution must start with Christians who are willing to challenge the reigning philosophy of moral relativism. We need to make it clear that relativism simply puts morality up for grabs. And, given the pervasiveness of sin, that means each of us will adopt principles that merely support whatever we wanted to do anyway. What happened in Jonesboro last week is partial payment for a deal our culture struck with the Devil. In exchange for freedom from moral restraints, we gave up moral truth, and now our kids hold us hostage. We can only pray that the victims in Jonesboro have not have died in vain—that this incident will serve as a wake-up call for this country to start training the consciences of our children—to instill in them a desire to be good.


Chuck Colson


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