(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)
by Jeff Holland
WAXHAW, NC (AgapePress) – A 14-year-old girl shoots her classmate in a parochial school in Pennsylvania. A 15-year-old boy kills two and injures 13 others in a shooting in a California high school. Two teens kill 13 and injure 23 before turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide in Littleton, Colorado.
Add to that more school violence in Michigan, Georgia, Arkansas, and Louisiana and threats of violence in North Carolina schools disruptive enough to all but shut some schools down for a day. It’s a trend of the past decade: Students planning violent acts against fellow students and against teachers and carrying out the violence with handguns, semiautomatic weapons and explosives.
Jamie Jenkins, a North Carolina mother of four grown children and a substitute teacher, believes she spots another alarming trend and possibly a connection: the steady release of violent video games marketed for boys between the ages of 8 and 15.
“I don’t think parents are aware of who is babysitting their sons,” Jenkins, 54, said in a recent interview with The Charlotte World. “[Video game manufacturers] aren’t hinting at something. They’re directing these young people to do something. These [manufacturers] have left nothing to the imagination. They’re directing [boys] to [violently target] the community.”
Five years ago, Jenkins and her husband, Bill, had no idea what was on the video game shelves at toy stores. When her own sons had acquired Sony PlayStations, they had only been able to buy game cartridges that allowed them to play sporting events, such as basketball, football or soccer.
However, when she substituted for a seventh grade teacher, she found out how much times had changed for the video game industry. She spotted a book and a video game in the hands of a student in the classroom that caught her eye because of its violent content. When she questioned the boy, she found out he had purchased it from a nearby toy store.
The next day, she paid a visit to the store. Then she paid a visit to a video movie rental business and saw the video game cartridges there that kids could rent, as well.
“I couldn’t believe what was on the shelf,” she said.
She spent $200 buying catalogs of games and did her homework. She was shocked at what she saw so shocked, she started speaking out on the subject. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family even invited the Jenkinses to appear on his show and to address the subject.
Her bugle call to parents is still as loud five years later.
For example, Jenkins asks adults what they know about the video game “Grand Theft Auto.” She finds few adults who have heard of it. But pre-16-year-old boys recognize the title well, she says. It was Sony PlayStation’s top seller for two years in a row, she says.
In the game, players must steal a car to go on missions that include assassinations, kidnapping, blowing up buildings and using drugs, she says. The player earns the most points for stealing a police car and then killing the policeman.
Numerous such games exist and are being played hours on end, mostly by boys, she says. Other titles include “Thrill Kill” and “Organized Crime.” One video game features a school bus loaded with weapons, she says.
“I just know that this awareness is not there for parents,” she says. “They just think that their children are being quiet in the bedroom with their friends. Parents give their children money instead of time, because they can’t be there.”
“But people have to be brought to a point to kill another person. Something has to take you past your conscience to a point to kill. And these games actually take you into the active self and to enjoy (killing).”
Jenkins’ warning flag that kids are being taught to enjoy killing others deserves a listening ear. Consider these statements to Associated Press reporters from high school students who witnessed the school violence at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and at Santana High School in Santee, California, scene of the latest violence:
• “They were laughing after they shot,” said Aaron Cohn, a student at Columbine High School who survived a mass murder shooting by fellow students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. “It was like they were having the time of their life.”
• “It was total chaos,” said John Schardt, 17, who was in a nearby classroom when the recent March 5 shooting started at Santana High School. He said the shooter had a smile on his face.
Those who are trying to connect the episodes of school violence to gun control issues are missing the point altogether, Jenkins says. There is an industry desensitizing a generation of boys to killing others and encouraging violent behavior at the same time, she says.
“I watched a special on The Discovery Channel about how Adolf Hitler had spent 10 years shaping the young minds of his nation,” she says. “He did so by desensitizing them to violence and by saturating them in the occult.”
“I thought to myself, ‘What if we were living in his time? What would we as parents do?’”
“I consider this [teaching boys to enjoy violent acts through video games] the most serious threat to our country,” Jenkins says. “We have the enemy right at our back door. And he is training our children to be vigilantes.”