Virginia Tech Tragedy is a Wake-Up Call to Parents
Barna’s studies on parenting and child development led him to offer a series of facts and observations related to the Virginia Tech situation.
- By the time an American child is 23 years old, as was the killer in Virginia, he will have seen countless murders among the more than 30,000 acts of violence to which he is exposed through television, movies and video games.
- By the age of 23, the average American will have viewed thousands of hours of pornographic images, which diminish the dignity and value of human life.
- After nearly a quarter century on earth, the typical American will have listened to hundreds of hours of music that fosters anger, hatred, disrespect for authority, selfishness, and radical independence.
- The typical worldview of a person in their early twenties promotes self-centeredness, the right to happiness and fulfillment, the importance of personal expression in all forms, the necessity of tolerating aberrant or immoral points of views, allows for disrespect of other people and use of profanity, and advances forms of generic spirituality that dismiss the validity of the Judeo-Christian faith. Largely propelled by postmodern thought, the typical worldview of young people does not facilitate respect for life, acceptance of the rule of law, or the necessity of hard work, personal sacrifice, paying the dues or contributing to the common good. Barna noted that only about 2% of today’s teenagers possess a biblical worldview that acknowledges the existence of God, Satan and sin, the availability of forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ, and the existence of absolute moral principles provided in the Bible.
- The average adolescent spends more than 40 hours each week digesting media, and the typical teenager in America absorbs almost 60 hours of media content each week. For better or worse, the messages received from the media represent a series of unfiltered, unchaperoned worldview lessons.
- It appears that as many as one out of every five young people is or has been under the influence of mood-altering medications, some of whose long-term side effects are not fully understood by the medical community. Drugging children has become one of the ways in which we have coped with other issues.
- Stress levels have been steadily rising among young children over the past couple of decades. A variety of factors have contributed to such stress, including parental acrimony and divorce, household financial troubles, media-fed expectations regarding materialism, overscheduling of children, bullying, physical abuse within the home, and excessive peer pressure.
- One-third of the nation’s teenagers report having been in a physical fight at least once in the last year. Nearly one out of every five 9th through 12th grade students has carried a gun, knife or club in the past month.
- Education, both in the home and outside of it, provides diminishing emphasis upon the development of character, and increasing emphasis upon meeting academic performance standards, especially through standardized testing.
- Growing numbers of children seek to make their way through an increasingly complex life without the traditional safety net comprised of a loving and supportive family, a stable circle of supportive peers, teachers who know and help nurture the child, and a community of faith that assists in giving meaning to life and a sense of belonging.
- Most young people admit that they feel as if they do not receive sufficient attention from their parents; do not have enough good friends whom they can count on; are unsettled about their own future; have personal spiritual perspectives but not much of a sense of spiritual community; lack role models; and do not feel that they have intrinsic value.
"Parents have a huge influence on who their children grow up to become," stated the researcher. "Although parents cannot guarantee that their kids will behave in specific ways, but their parenting style and practices can hugely influence the likelihood of certain behaviors and perspectives."
Parents Are Struggling
Raising healthy and confident children in today’s world is not an easy task. Citing recent studies his firm had completed with parents, Barna highlighted some of the struggles that American parents are currently facing.
- A majority of parents feel overly busy, stressed out or are buckling under the pressure of mounting financial debt.
- Most adults are dissatisfied with their job, even though it consumes a majority of their waking hours.
- American parents tend to blame other parents for the problems evident among today’s young people while excusing themselves from any blame. A large share of parents, however, do express worry about the future that their children will inherit and how prepared their children are to deal with the challenges of that future.
- Fewer than one out of every ten families have parents who pray together, study the Bible together and lead the family in regular explorations of their faith.
- The standards that parents have established for evaluating their own performance as a parent are innocuous. If their children have avoided publicly recognized problems - such as physical or substance abuse, gang involvement, satanic activity, pregnancy, or physical aggression - and continue to get passing grades in school and stay relatively healthy, the parents believe they are doing an acceptable job.
- Few parents are aware of the dramatic effect the media have upon people’s behavior and values. Just 9% of parents believe that the media are the most significant influence on their children’s lives, and only one out of every three parents of kids under 13 impose any significant restrictions or limitations on how much or what type of media their children are exposed to. Shockingly few parents have discussions with their children about the content of the media they have digested.