to Kill: Are We Conditioning Our Children to Commit Murder?
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Christianity Today, August 10, 1998
we training our children to kill? I am from Jonesboro, Arkansas.
I travel the world training medical, law enforcement, and
U.S. military personnel about the realities of warfare.
I try to make those who carry deadly force keenly aware
of the magnitude of killing. Too many law enforcement and
military personnel act like "cowboys," never stopping to
think about who they are and what they are called to do.
I hope I am able to give them a reality check.
So here I am, a world traveler and an expert in the field
of "killology," and the largest school massacre in American
history happens in my hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. That
was the March 24, 1998, schoolyard shooting deaths of four
girls and a teacher. Ten others were injured, and two boys,
ages 11 and 13, are in jail, charged with murder.
My son goes to one of the middle schools in town, so my
aunt in Florida called us that day and asked, "Was that
Joe's school?" And we said, "We haven't heard about it."
My aunt in Florida knew about the shootings before we did!
turned on the television and discovered the shootings took
place down the road from us but, thank goodness, not at
Joe's school. I'm sure almost all parents in Jonesboro that
night hugged their children and said, "Thank God it wasn't
you," as they tucked them into bed. But there was also a
lot of guilt because some parents in Jonesboro couldn't
I spent the first three days after the tragedy at Westside
Middle School, where the shootings took place, working with
the counselors, teachers, students, and parents. None of
us had ever done anything like this before. I train people
how to react to trauma in the military, but how do you do
it with kids after a massacre in their school?
I was the lead trainer for the counselors and clergy the
night after the shootings, and the following day we debriefed
the teachers in groups. Then the counselors and clergy,
working with the teachers, debriefed the students, allowing
them to work through everything that had happened. Only
people who share a trauma can give each other the understanding,
acceptance, and forgiveness they need, and then they can
begin the long process of trying to understand why it happened.
of Violence..........The per capita murder rate doubled
in this country between 1957 --when the FBI started keeping
track of the data--and 1992.
is Unnatural..........Just as the army is conditioning
people to kill, we are indiscriminately doing the same
thing to our children, but without the safeguards.
Methods in this Madness: Desensitization..........Brutalization
is designed to break down your existing mores and norms
and to implement a new set of values that embrace destruction,
violence, and death as a way of life.
Conditioning..........Classical conditioning is like
the famous case of Pavlov's dogs you learned about in
Conditioning..........The military and law enforcement
community have made killing a conditioned response.
Games........... 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.
Violence..........What is the road home from the dark
and lonely place to which we have traveled?
Nonviolent Video Games..........The following list
of nonviolent video games has been developed by The Games
of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, Volume 3, p.159
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