Risk Factors and Violence

Risk Factors and Violence

African-American single-parent familyThe news is often sickening anymore. I’m brokenhearted over the recent news of the teenagers who shot and killed a young man “for the fun of it.” Not only am I brokenhearted for the promising young life that was needlessly cut short, or for loved ones who are grieving his loss, but also for our society and what such acts of senseless violence represent.

I often hear many arguments about a need for gun control because, let’s face it, it’s constantly in the news. Regardless of your stance however, I want to reflect on the words of journalist Michelle Malkin, “It’s Not About the Gun, It’s About the Morality!”

What is it that has happened to our society that would lead to teenagers who seemingly considered boredom to be enough justification for murder? Does anyone else see a problem here??

I’m fully aware that I can’t explain why these kids found some means of justifying what they did. I can’t speak for them. I don’t know anything about their families (who I’m sure are probably grieving their own trauma as well), or what they’ve been exposed to or not. I don’t know anything about their parents or the impact this will have on their lives (their relationships and marriages, etc.).

I do know what seems to be glorified in our society, and what some of the trends seem to be, so based on that, I’d like to encourage all of you who have the privilege of being parents to focus on the following thoughts:

1. Setting Boundaries for children is not just about making them mind and having power over them. It’s not mean to give them boundaries… it’s mean not to give them boundaries. Enforcing the rules of the house and society helps children learn from an early age that they don’t get what they want all the time, but it’s important to consider how their actions may affect others.

2. Violent games and movies have ratings for a reason, and in my opinion, the ratings are too lenient. Taking child development into consideration, it makes no sense to me to allow a child/teen to repeatedly watch and/or take part in violent, gore-filled scenes. We could go into a discussion on desensitization or vicarious trauma, but the point is that once we’ve seen images, we don’t have the ability to un-see them. They are there. I don’t believe violent games and movies in and of themselves lead to violent acts in reality, but they certainly can be a risk factor. Risk factors add together.

3. Teach your children compassion. Compassion negates bitterness and selfishness that may otherwise lead to selfish, vicious acts when combined with other risk factors.

4. Teach your children to use creativity and compassion to combat boredom. In light of the inspiration for this article, it seems so insignificant to even mention boredom in a serious tone because it is such a ridiculous excuse for such extreme behavior, but even on a small scale, boredom can often lead to trouble.

These are only a few of many risk factors contributing to violent or selfish behavior among children. We’ve not even touched on history of abuse and neglect, traumatic experiences, etc. and I would recommend finding a local counselor for your family if your family has faced these concerns. Again, I don’t want it to seem like I’m making judgments about the parenting these teenagers received, only that these are common issues that may lead to violent or otherwise selfish behaviors. Risk factors combine to set the scene for heartbreaking choices. If you are a parent, it is your job to do everything you can to reduce the risk factors and teach them Biblical values they will be able to use in decision making for the rest of their lives. Raising godly children is one of many ways to help Elevate Your Marriage.


To the loved ones of Christopher Lane, I extend my deepest sympathies. I pray you find the peace and comfort only God can give at such a time. I pray your feet find their way to their next steps smoothly as you work your way through the grief fog I know is bound to shadow you for a while to come. I wish there were words others could say to take away your pain, though i know it’s not possible. What I know IS possible, however, is that peace and pain can co-exist when God is allowed to work. It is my prayer for you that you find peace even in the pain.


Keri Kitchen is a devoted wife and mother, blogger, author of Love Isn’t Selfish, licensed mental health counselor, and founder of The Carys Rainn Foundation. To read more about what God is doing in her life, visit her blog at www.aftertherainn.com

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