The Indianapolis Star
Last updated 12:47 AM, EST, Monday, April 17, 2000
Just days before the first anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, parenting expert John Rosemond warned that child violence will worsen if parents don't go back to raising their children the old-fashioned way.
Behavior will deteriorate until there is "complete child anarchy," Rosemond said Sunday during seminars at St. Luke's United Methodist Church on the Far Northside. Massacres like the one last year in Littleton, Colo., will become commonplace.
"The problem was not Columbine," Rosemond said. "The problem was not gun control. The problem is self-control."
Most of Rosemond's two speeches Sunday -- "Parenting According to Genesis, and A Family of Value" -- dealt with how to teach children that parents, not kids, are at the center of a family. Parents today focus more on a child's talents than on character, said the North Carolina-based author and newspaper columnist.
"The problem is children who have not been raised with respect for other people, who have not been raised to be considerate of other people's feelings because their own feelings have been emphasized to such a disproportionate extent," he said. The problem is children who do not accept accountability for their own behavior.
He doesn't see the answer in simply making gun laws stricter. He supports "reasonable gun control," but when politicians treat school violence like a gun-control issue, they miss the point, he said.
Rosemond is vehement in his criticism of other parenting experts, especially mental health professionals. A psychologist himself, he said those professionals, with the help of the media, started telling parents 50 years ago that they didn't know how to raise children.
He encouraged parents to take control and to do things the way Grandma did -- with powerful discipline and powerful love.
For instance, he said, it was acceptable even in Grandma's day for parents to treat an infant like it was the center of the world. But that was expected to end when a child was 2 or 3. By then, the child was potty-trained and tantrums were no longer tolerated.
"People don't like my unsentimental point of view," Rosemond said, ". . . which is: Children bring into the world with them human nature. Human nature is not a pretty thing. Children need to be socialized and civilized.
"If you look at your child through romantic lenses, you are not going to be able to see clearly what your responsibilities are to the child and to your fellow man."
Rosemond, who spoke in Littleton in September, said violence will stop only when parents stop raising narcissistic, dangerous children and instead teach them to stand on their own two feet and build good character virtues.
March 9, 2000
By James Gordon Meek
WASHINGTON (APBnews.com) -- A bipartisan congressional commission said that early prevention is the key to preventing explosions of rage like recent ones at several schools in the past few years.
At a Capitol Hill press briefing this morning, the group released a report on youth violence that also pointed to community efforts, mental health services and effective juvenile justice programs as important steps in preventing at-risk children from embracing crime and violence.
The task force, which was made up of House members, was appointed by Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and minority leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., last year.
"Government, at all levels, and parents must deal with this problem at a very, very early age," said Martin Frost, D-Texas, who was co-chairman.
Positive role models
Chairwoman Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., said communities also must take an active role in positively influencing the lives of young children and prevent violence such as the fatal shooting last week of Flint Michigan first-grader Kayla Rolland by a classmate. Her 6-year-old alleged killer reportedly found the weapon at a crack house, where he lived with a teenage uncle.
"Imagine what could have been the change in the life of the first-grader who shot Kayla Rolland if that little boy had had a positive adult role model who loved and supported him," Dunn said.
Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said that if children are exposed to abuse, neglect or home violence, they grow up to be abusers and menaces to society.
"If they are loved, they will become lovers," he said. "If they're not, they will turn into creatures that we don't even comprehend."
Actions and consequences
The task force, made up of 24 senior House members evenly divided by political party, agreed unanimously that establishing strong moral authority is beneficial to children who might otherwise turn to crime.
In a report released to the public, the members said that without strong role models, children's exposure to violence in the home and in entertainment would corrupt their moral foundation.
In turn, the report surmised, "The lessons of hostility as a means of problem-solving and an inability to equate actions with consequences will foster criminal behavior."
Dunn said the group wanted to debunk myths about juvenile crime, particularly the notion that school violence is growing. She said that in spite of media attention, those incidents are declining -- data that is supported by Justice Department statistics.
"Schools continue to be among the safest places for our children to be in today's society," she said.
But the press conference was jarred by a reporter who blurted out, "How can you deal with youth violence and not deal with guns?"
Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., an outspoken gun control opponent, said guns are a separate matter.
"What we did, which I think makes this report so much more important than a debate over gun control, is it really dealt with core issues in a way that is completely nonpartisan and completely objective," Barr said. "This report has the credibility that it would not have if we went into it and simply looked at gun control."
Last summer, the Republican-controlled House stopped new gun-control legislation by killing the juvenile justice bill to which it was attached. The Republicans had the support of Rep. John Dingell, an influential Michigan Democrat who strongly supports gun rights.
Looking at everything else
Frost, also a Democratic leader, backed Barr's statement.
"We decided at the outset that the issue of gun control would be dealt with by the [congressional] leadership of both parties," Frost said. "We chose to look at everything else that was involved in the question of youth violence."
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., a former police officer, added, "Let's start addressing the social, the economic, the educational and the family background. We, as the Congress, can do something about that, and we should."
James Gordon Meek is an APBnews.com staff writer (email@example.com).