Homeschool Homicide and the Cult of Youth
- 2005 23 Dec
When I was growing up, my generation was obsessed with personal fulfillment. This led many into self-destructive indulgences: promiscuity, drugs and loud, loutish demands for more of everything. There were deaths resulting from over-indulgence, but very rarely did the youth of my day seek death for its own sake.
That, it seems, has been left to this generation. In Pennsylvania last month, we read of a 18-year-old homeschooled youth, David Ludwig, shooting his girlfriend's parents and taking off with the girl to "make a new life" ( Click Here to read more... ). And just recently, a second homeschooled youth, Patrick Armstrong, was arrested for killing a 14-year-old neighbor girl ( Click Here to read more... ).
This recent spate of killings was apparently perpetrated by youth from the sector in which we would least expect to find them: the close-knit community of Christian home-schooling families in which parents have a more-than-usual investment in their teens.
So what went wrong? The endless speculation on the inner workings of the handful of families involved may throw some light on the specifics of these cases, but from the bloody halls of Columbine to these current cases, some disturbing cultural trends emerge. Even though these young men have parents who were involved with them, they still swim in the sea of norms and expectations of our peer-dependent, media-saturated, youth obsessed society. Perhaps we would benefit more by questioning our culture's view of adolescence, our cult of Youth.
In our culture, adolescence is characterized by expectations of increasing freedom without a corresponding expectation of increasing responsibility. We encourage our youth to "enjoy life while you're young," and to avoid getting burdened with obligations and responsibilities too early. We urge each other to remember that "the magic is in the child." And we urge our youth to seek their own way without reference to what their parents value or to what previous generations have learned. We see the resultant disdain for elders reflected in the scornful Blogs our youth pen, the disrespectful pop lyrics they mouth, the extremes of innovation they crave.
Youth is indeed a wonderful thing, however, youth lacks experience; and, lacking experience, it lacks critical components of compassion and judgment. Youth has incredible energy and drive toward a better future. But youth's power will never be harnessed to the good, until it can be yoked with the experience and judgment of age.
And it isn't enough for a family here, a family there to attempt the change. The society as a whole must have a change of heart. The generations need each other – desperately. Apparently, it is a life-and-death matter.
In the course of her career as a professional mother, Kim Anderson has home-schooled her three children and developed a - unique - perspective on life, the news and everything. Kim is the author of "Lincoln-Douglas Values Debate", and is the Regional Coordinator for a twelve state area in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association. She teaches journalism, speech and debate in a Denver metro area homeschool cooperative, and coaches for the International Debate Society.
For more information about Kim Anderson and her many activities check out her Blog, Mother-Load, at http://mother-lode.blogspot.com/