Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge

Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Senseless Teens

A few days ago many news outlets were reporting on a couple of teenage boys who were caught on video tape viciously beating a homeless man. One of the other men they had beaten eventually died from his wounds. All of the reporters were horrified, many of them asked the question "Why??"

I have to be honest. When I first heard of the beatings and the search was on for "two or three men" I corrected my tv set: "They should be looking for two or there teenage boys." And I already knew why.

Having been in youth minsitry for so long I have also been around a great many teenage boys. In one parish I was at there was a large group of boys who enjoyed imitating the wrestling shows. We had a very large space for the youth which had several couches and pillows, so I allowed them to have wrestling events (which also had rather strict rules: an adult had to be in the room, no hard objects could be used, only pretend ones, any injuries meant it stopped immediately, etc).

What I discovered as I watched over the boys was that in their conversations they would dream up these scenarios of seriously hurting others. And then laugh about it. They would even talk about how funny it would be to go up to some shop owner they didn't like and mess up his shop or some teacher getting a beating-and then they'd all laugh. They insisted that they were laughing because it was so absurd.

Maybe. But what scared me sometimes was the amount of detail and dreaming up that went into these plots. Hurting others for sport sounded very enticing and fun to do.

And before anyone says video games don't hurt I beg to differ. Sitting there with your XBox beating the snot out of someone or killing them with Uzi's won't have an effect on you? Have you seen how realistic these games are?

No, not every boy goes out and does harm. Some of my best kids played these games. But I can't believe that this doesn't affect the kids and make them aggressive on some level and in some harmful way.

These "nice boys from next door" are playing these M-rated games and acting out their fantasies on people they think no one will miss, on people who they contend have no place in society.

And far from being their own fault and the fault of the parents, we have let them live in a society where the only thing that is wrong is if you feel that it is wrong. Very few kids that I talk to believe that copying music is wrong. A minor thing, really, but it IS against the law. But to them it is there for their use, however they feel they can and want to use it. How I live is my business and no one can tell me otherwise.

Now we have a graduated sense of entitlement: I can use human life any way that I want, esp those considered to be the dregs of society. Wouldn't it be fun to beat and hit them? Who are they going to tell? They are drunks and druggies anyway.

Congratulations, society. We've done well by our kids.


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