1. Desensitization & Brutalization
In the military ‘boot camp,’ “brutalization is designed to break down your existing mores and norms” and cause you “to accept a new set of values that embrace destruction, violence, and death as a way of life,” explained Col. Grossman. “In the end, you are desensitized to violence and accept it as a normal and essential survival skill…. Something very similar … is happening to our children through violence in the media—but instead of 18-year-olds, it begins at the age of 18 months. At that age, a child can watch something happening on television and mimic that action. … When young children see somebody shot, stabbed, raped, brutalized, degraded, or murdered on TV, to them it is as though it were actually happening.” He gave this example:
“The Journal of the American Medical Association published the definitive study on the impact of TV violence. It compared two nations or regions that were demographically and ethnically identical; only one variable is different: the presence of television. ‘In every nation, region, or city with television, there is an immediate explosion of violence on the playground, and within 15 years there is a doubling of the murder rate.
“Why 15 years? That is how long it takes for the brutalization of a three-to five-year-old to reach the ‘prime crime age.’”
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation published another revealing study last fall: “43% of the kids age 2 and younger watched TV on a typical day and… 26% had a TV in their room. The median amount of time spent watching: two hours a day.” Small wonder our elementary schools are changing!
“Temper tantrums are nothing new in kindergarten and first grade,” wrote Claudia Wallis in a Time Magazine article last December, “but the behavior of a 6-year-old girl this fall at a school in Fort Worth, Texas, had even the most experienced staff members wanting to run for cover.” She described the crisis:
“Asked to put a toy away, the youngster began to scream. Told to calm down, she knocked over her desk and crawled under the teacher’s desk, kicking it and dumping out the contents of the drawers. Then things really began to deteriorate. Still shrieking, the child stood up and began hurling books at her terrified classmates, who had to be ushered from the room to safety.
“Just a bad day at school? More like a bad season. The desk-dumping incident followed scores of other outrageous acts by some of the youngest Fort Worth students at schools across the district. Among them: a 6-year-old who told his teacher to ‘shut up, bitch,’ a first-grader whose fits of anger ended with his peeling off his clothes and throwing them at the school psychologist, and hysterical kindergartners who bit teachers so hard they left tooth marks.
“‘I’m clearly seeing an increasing number of kindergartners and first-graders coming to our attention for aggressive behavior,’ says Michael Parker, program director of psychological services at the Fort Worth Independent School District.'”
The child-advocacy group Partnership for Children confirms this observation. A preliminary report of its study “shows that 93% of the 39 schools that responded to the survey said kindergartners today have ‘more emotional and behavioral problems’ than were seen five years ago. More than half the day-care centers said ‘incidents of rage and anger’ had increased over the past three years. ‘We’re talking about children—a 3-year-old in one instance—who will take a fork and stab another child in the forehead.'”
“Violence is getting younger and younger,” said Ronald Stephens, director of California’s National School Safety Center. “Initially, it was high schools that created these schools [for disruptive students], then middle schools. Now it’s elementary. Who would have thought years ago that this would be happening?”
Actually, Col. Grossman did. He cited a study by Journal of the American Medical Association (June 10, 1992) on the impact of TV violence:
“Hundreds of sound scientific studies demonstrate the social impact of brutalization by the media. The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that ‘the introduction of television in the 1950’s caused a subsequent doubling of the homicide rate, i.e., long-term childhood exposure to television is a causal factor behind approximately one half of the homicides committed in the United States, or approximately 10,000 homicides annually.’ The article went on to say that ‘… if, hypothetically, television technology had never been developed, there would today be 10,000 fewer homicides each year in the United States, 70,000 fewer rapes, and 700,000 fewer injurious assaults.”
Of course, if children spent less time in front of the TV screen, they would have more time to learn about God and the wonders of the real world. Consider these sad statistics:
“More than half of 2-to-7-year-olds and 82 percent of 8-to-18-year-olds live in homes with at least one video game console.”
“The average child watches 27 hrs of TV each week.”
“The average child gets more one-on-one communication from TV than from parents & teachers combined.
“60% of men on TV are involved in violence…. 11% are killers.”
“20% of suburban high schoolers endorse shooting someone ‘who has stolen something from you.'”
“After TV was introduced to a Canadian town in 1973, a 160 percent increase in aggression, hitting, shoving, and biting was documented in 1st and 2nd graders.” No change was seen in two control communities.
“15 years after introduction of TV in USA, homicides, rapes and assaults doubled.”
2. Classical Conditioning
You may remember Pavlov’s dogs. Week after week, those four-legged Soviet laboratory specimens were fed at the sound of a bell, and eventually they learned to associate the ringing bell with their tasty morsels. Once conditioned, they would salivate whenever the bell rang. This study—together with the Hegelian dialectic process—helped lay the foundation for Communist brainwashing. Col. Grossman explained its relevance today:
“What is happening to our children is the reverse of the aversion therapy portrayed in the movie A Clockwork Orange. In A Clockwork Orange, a brutal sociopath, a mass murderer, is strapped to a chair and forced to watch violent movies while he is injected with a drug that nauseates him. So he sits and gags and retches as he watches the movies. After hundreds of repetitions of this, he associates violence with nausea, and it limits his ability to be violent….
“We are doing the exact opposite: Our children watch vivid pictures of human suffering and death, learning to associate it with their favorite soft drink and candy bar, or their girlfriend’s perfume.
“The result is a phenomenon that functions much like AIDS, which I call AVIDS–Acquired Violence Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS has never killed anybody. It destroys your immune system, and then other diseases that shouldn’t kill you become fatal. Television violence by itself does not kill you. It destroys your violence immune system and conditions you to derive pleasure from violence.”
3. Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning is based on the simple psycho-social formula: stimulus-response, stimulus-response….. A modern example of this procedure is the use of flight simulators to train pilots. “An airline pilot in training sits in front of a flight simulator for endless hours,” wrote Col. Grossman. “When a particular warning light goes on, he is taught to react in a certain way. When another warning light goes on, a different reaction is required. Stimulus-response, stimulus-response, stimulus-response. One day the pilot is actually flying a jumbo jet; the plane is going down, and 300 people are screaming behind him…. But he has been conditioned to respond reflexively to this particular crisis.”
The reverse of this principle is used to train both our soldiers and our police force. According to Col. Grossman,
“The military and law enforcement community have made killing a conditioned response This has substantially raised the firing rate on the modern battlefield. Whereas infantry training in World War II used bull’s-eye targets, now soldiers learn to fire at realistic, man-shaped silhouettes that pop into their field of view. That is the stimulus. The trainees have only a split second to engage the target. The conditioned response is to shoot the target, and then it drops. Stimulus-response, stimulus-response, stimulus-response….
“Later, when soldiers are on the battlefield or a police officer is walking a beat and somebody pops up with a gun, they will shoot reflexively and shoot to kill. We know that 75 to 80 percent of the shooting on the modern battlefield is the result of this kind of stimulus-response training.
“Now, if you’re a little troubled by that, how much more should we be troubled by the fact that every time a child plays an interactive point-and-shoot video game, he is learning the exact same conditioned reflex and motor skills….
“This process is extraordinarily powerful and frightening. The result is ever more homemade pseudo-sociopaths who kill reflexively and show no remorse. Our children are learning to kill and learning to like it; and then we have the audacity to say, ‘Oh my goodness, what’s wrong?'”
A report from the Schiller Institute in Washington D.C. shows an even more sobering side of the problem:
“Recently released medical studies indicate that violent video games damage the brain, possibly permanently. Video games may be more dangerous to your health than cigarettes or alcohol. This national scandal has been covered for the benefit of the $10 billion-a-year video-game industry, of which violent games rated ‘M,’ for Mature, are the fastest-growing segment. Approximately 20 million Americans, many under 18, play these ‘M’ games. The studies, many years in the making, show that repeated playing of violent video games ‘desensitizes’ the activities of the brain involved in reasoning and planning, while activating those functions that respond to violence. The studies include scientific data indicating that these games may actually cause destructive behavior.”
Who can forget the tragedies that awakened all of America to the dark side of our youth culture? Most memorable in the string of cold-blooded shooting sprees may be Columbine High School in Colorado, where two students addicted to Doom, Mortal Combat and other violent role-playing games (RPGs) shot 27 students and teachers.
But those who are obsessed with point-and-shoot RPGs learn more than a killer instinct. Many embrace the occultism that drive the myth behind the violence. “Peter,” a former occultist who became a committed Christian several decades ago, helped me to understand this phenomenon. Today, he serves his Lord by warning and equipping vulnerable youth to resist and overcome the deadly dangers of occult RPGs. [See Role-Playing Games & Popular Occultism]
“Are you familiar with aviation simulators?” he asked me during a telephone call. “They simulate the inside of a cockpit in flying a plane. You can learn how to fly a plane in a flight simulator. But in a simulator there is no risk. All personal danger has been removed. When you play these occult games, you’re doing the exact same thing that you would be dong in a flight simulator. No risk. So why not try the real thing?
Many players do. “These kids are easily drawn into occult groups through [role-playing] tournaments,” Peter explained. “When kids transition from simulation—when they actually experience the POWER that is available to them through the rituals they are learning to perform under the guise of ‘fantasy’—that power becomes like an addiction and they get hooked. But they don’t see that.”
“I could walk up to any of these teens who showed promise,” he continued, “and I could put my hand on their shoulder, look them in the eye and say, ‘If you get a rush from this, how would like to do it for real?’ No one has ever answered no.”
4. Role Models
Children who watch television and youth who play violent and occult role playing games find plenty of shocking role models that shape their dreams and mold their values. Britney Spears and Eminem are among today’s best known pied pipers, but the imaginary heroes hidden in popular anime, slasher movies and RPGs can be just as influential—if not more so. So can the young killers who win their moment of media fame through televised fanfare that drill the exploits of young sociopaths into the consciousness of vulnerable and envious viewers. According to Col. Grossman,
“Research in the 1970s demonstrated the existence of ‘cluster suicides‘ in which the local TV reporting of teen suicides directly caused numerous copycat suicides of impressionable teenagers. Somewhere in every population there are potentially suicidal kids who will say to themselves, ‘Well, I’ll show all those people who have been mean to me. I know how to get my picture on TV, too.’… Thus we get copycat, cluster murders that work their way across America like a virus spread by the six o’clock news. No matter what someone has done, if you put his picture on TV, you have made him a celebrity, and someone, somewhere, will emulate him.
“The lineage of the Jonesboro shootings began at Pearl, Mississippi, fewer than six months before. In Pearl, a 16-year-old boy was accused of killing his mother and then going to his school and shooting nine students, two of whom died, including his ex-girlfriend. Two months later, this virus spread to Paducah, Kentucky, where a 14-year-old boy was arrested for killing three students and wounding five others.”
Resisting the Violence
What can parents do to monitor and restrict violent and occult media messages? There are no simple answers. They certainly can’t trust the video labels. In his article, “Lazy cops on the video game beat,” columnist Brent Brozell writes,
“Two Harvard researchers, Kimberly Thompson and Kevin Haninger, recently discovered that parents of teenagers can’t rely very heavily on the video game ratings system created by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a self-regulating body….
“A graver problem for parents is that the games that many youngsters desire and chatter about are not rated ‘T,’ but rated ‘M,’ for supposedly ‘mature’ audiences. This is the TV-land of ultraviolence, casual sex and casual profanity best known through the best seller ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.’
“Rockstar Games, the sleaze merchants behind the ‘Vice City’ cop-killing, woman-abusing fantasy, has a newer game out called ‘Manhunt.’ The goal of ‘Manhunt’ is delivering the nastiest killings for filming…. USA Today’s reviewer explained: ‘I got plenty of one and two-star ratings by sneaking up behind thugs and stabbing them in the neck. Higher ratings are awarded depending on how much additional carnage you can add to the execution.'”
Such “entertaining” images mold the minds of children and youth around the world! Do you wonder what will happen to our nation and culture when these conditioned youth reach adulthood? Might the civilized world be following a path to corruption and chaos that makes the decadence in ancient Rome seem mild by comparison? Even if our own children refuse to participate in this dark and depraved world of the imagination, will they live in a world eventually subjugated to barbarians and thugs?
We can only touch the children in the sphere of influence God has given us. But we can’t afford to be silent! So here are a few suggestions:
1. Pray! Our Shepherd will show each of us what we can do to equip our personal and our Christian family.
2. Put on the Armor of God. The greatest weapon against the world’s deceptions is God’s Word. The Armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) provides an outline of the vital truth that can expose and resist any of Satan’s lies.
3. Be watchful. Explain the danger of RPG’s to your children. Share the statistics and the horrendous consequences of the conditioning process. Show them items in the newspaper that provide current and relevant examples and warnings.
4. Understand the Nature and Tactics of Satan. Children need to be alert to both his timeless and his current strategies. We are all engaged in a spiritual war—and we cannot close our eyes to the realities of the foes that assault us.
5. Keep praising God who gives us the victory. Know His Names and count on His promises. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24