group magazine: May-June, 1998
GROUP MAGAZINE - May-June 1998
by Rick Lawrence
Pearl, Mississippi. West Paducah, Kentucky. Jonesboro, Arkansas. Some say what happened in these three southern towns is more evidence that young people are locked in a violent, downward moral spiral. When kids commit senseless crimes, adults look for common threads and national trends. Why? I think anything "senseless" threatens the cause-and-effect safety zone we live in. In a fallen world, predictability is a prerequisite for the perceived control we demand.
Or, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, "We can’t handle the truth!"
And the truth is, no matter how quickly adults jump on the "monster kids" bandwagon, these crimes don’t represent the coping skills of average teenagers. They’re extreme, aberrant, and bizarre. But not typical. David Kennedy, a senior researcher at Harvard University, says, "They’re appalling crimes, but they’re not really part of an epidemic." Juvenile crime is dropping at the same time the juvenile population is growing. And only one in 10 schools reported a serious crime last year.
So, what can we learn from these crimes? The same thing we learned from Cain and Abel: Senseless violence is an expected fruit of a rebellious people—it always has been and always will be. If this world is our only hope, that’s devastating news. But it’s not, so we’re not...
Take Note: You’re part of a 60,000-youth-leader-family of GROUP readers. I thought you’d like to know a little something about your "brothers and sisters." About nine out of 10 (86%) are paid professionals—three-quarters are full-time. Six out of 10 have a "youth pastor" title, the rest are senior or associate pastors (21%), directors of Christian education (15%), and Volunteers (4%). The average reader is 35 years old, has nine years of youth ministry experience, and has been at the same church for five years.