“Train up a child in the way that he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6. Prior to the 1970s, no US schoolkid (K-12) ever committed a mass-murder (four or more murdered in one incident: FBI) at a public school. In fact, it was normal in the 1960’s for members of ROTC high school rifle teams to daily carry their .22’s to school on the NYC subway. No one blinked an eye.
Through the 70’s and even 80’s in many states, rifles and shotguns adorned gun racks in students’ pickups at school and were used for hunting before or after class. There was one US school mass-murder by firearm in the 70s, at a college. In the 80s there was no mass-murder by a student. In the 90s, there were 4, including the massacre at Columbine high school, where fifteen students and teachers were killed and twenty-one wounded. Although statistically still rare, these massacres have become more frequent in the 21st century. What happened? “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Prov.14:34.
First, it was NOT the “availability” of guns. Guns were allowed in schools for decades, and nothing happened. Through much of our history, guns were just another tool around the house or farm. Parents taught children how to use them if needed, and many kids enjoyed hunting with their fathers. Annie Oakley and Audie Murphy, orphans, like many poverty-stricken kids, kept their families alive by hunting.
As America became almost entirely urban and socialist policies of “people control” crept into laws, weapons were increasingly restricted or forbidden to city-dwellers. They became unfamiliar; symbols of criminal use, since nice people didn’t need or use them. Many folks rejected this idea, and guns were readily available to them. Until 1968, anyone age twenty-one and up could have the cream of WWII’s military weapons mailed right to their door at bargain prices, no questions asked. Yet violent crime rates at that time were FAR below those between 1980-2005.
What changed? “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.’…For God will bring every act to judgment; everything which is hidden, whether it be good or evil.” Ecc.11:1,14.
First, we abandoned God. During the 50s, America’s faith in God became insincere. Mainstream denominations bought into the “social gospel” and increasingly surrendered their responsibility to the poor and hurting to government. “Feel good” sermons replaced those that talked about personal responsibility, sin, and Hell. Materialism became a major motivator. We told kids, “Study hard, make good grades to get in a good college and be successful.” When they asked, “Why?” we said, “So YOUR kids can work hard, get good grades and get into good colleges, and be successful.” Is it any wonder that Baby Boomers rejected their parents’ values and instead turned to “peace, love, and rock ‘n roll”?
Founding Father Benjamin Rush said, “Religious instruction is most useful when imparted early in life.” As the Bible’s influence declined in America, bad things resulted as the family was remade. Family counselors tell us that quality and quantity time with family is the basis for successful families. This was achieved for millennia by one parent mainly raising kids while the other worked to provide a living for the family. Often, kids were part of making the family living (as on farms or small businesses), working with their parents and learning life’s lessons from them.
From the 40s onward, though, things began to change. In 1940, 60% of families still lived traditionally, but by 1969, only 44% of families had stay-at-home moms. By 1989, they were down to 25%. As of 2014, only 12% of families have the traditional structure, while working moms who said they’d work MORE if they could, have increased 85%! Why? One reason for two incomes was that from the early 60s onward, taxes grew three times faster than incomes! Another reason is that the more families moved away from accepting the Bible as their guide for life, the more they rejected the traditional family. U-Turn, by George Barna and David Barton, (Front Line Books, 2014). During the same period, other detriments to families and kids became common; divorce and the welfare state.
Teenage and other mass killers (including serial killers) invariably come from three kinds of families: 1. Kids born outside of marriage and raised in single-parent homes, 2. Kids from divorced homes, 3. Kids from homes where one or both parents are absent because they are in prison. Kids from these homes get lower grades, repeat grades twice as much, and are twice as likely to be suspended as kids from two-parent families. They are twice as likely to spend time in jail, seven times more likely to be delinquent, twice as likely to have pulled a gun or knife on someone in the past year, and twice as likely to be involved in gangs. Ninety percent of the increase in violent crime from 1973-1995 was from kids born out-of-wedlock and raised in single-parent homes, and 75% of juvenile criminals come from these homes! A national increase of only one percent in out-of-wedlock births results in a 5% increase in annual murder rates! Id. at 92-94.
Clearly, kids from homes of divorce and those from fatherless families are at a serious disadvantage and far more likely to be anti-social than those from intact families.
Kids from single-parent homes are more likely to be poor than those in two-parent homes. In 2014, the annual income of traditional families was $101,000, but that of single-mother homes averaged $35,000. In more than 80% of “no-fault” divorces (laws which became popular in the early 80s), one party WANTS to keep the marriage together, but the other leaves anyway. God says, “I no longer listen to you…. Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she was your companion and wife by covenant.” Mal.3:13-14. Children of parents who stay together “for the sake of the children” and divorce only AFTER the children are adults have far fewer problems and commit fewer crimes as adults. In addition, their marriages tend to end less in divorce. Children of divorce are 89% more likely to end their marriages in divorce than kids from intact homes. Id.
Children of divorce have lower grades, more absenteeism, and a 125% greater dropout rate than those from intact homes. They are 50% more likely to have health problems, and have higher rates of depression, addiction and arrest. Boys form divorced families are 120% more likely to end up in prison than those from intact homes, while girls from divorced homes are three times as likely to be teen mothers as those form intact homes. Divorced women and their daughters are far more likely to live in poverty (30% of single-mother families are poor, while only 6% of two-parent families are poor.) Adult children of divorce tend to have lower-pay jobs and less college than their parents, and feel less safe growing up (44%) than those in two-parent homes (79%). Finally, kids from divorced families have an average five years shorter life-span than those from intact families. Id. at 95.
Is it any wonder that God said, “I hate divorce!” Mal.3:16. (I’m not saying all divorces are wrong or unnecessary, I’m addressing those who take advantage of our “no fault” laws by entering marriage thoughtlessly or with a parachute on their backs, never intending to keep their vows.)
To be continued …
Image: CC0 Creative Commons; Excerpted from: https://pixabay.com/en/threatening-dark-gloomy-back-light-1541063/