The Wild Growth of Violence
The Roots of Violence
● Four teenage boys went on a sixteen-day rampage. They beat several elderly men—one to death—horsewhipped two teenage girls, tied gasoline-soaked cotton around a man’s legs and set it on fire, dragged another man seven blocks and threw him into the river where he drowned. “It was a supreme adventure,” said one of the boys. “I did it for sheer enjoyment,” added another. All were from good homes, had good school records and had been counselors for younger children.
● Sixty-three-year-old Joseph, father of eight, could not sleep. He got up and went to his garage, grabbed two guns and marched across the street in his quiet neighborhood and opened fire on a neighbor’s pool-side swimming party. He killed two and critically wounded two others. He then fired a fatal bullet into his own temple. Police knew of no motive for the massacre.
● Marjorie was irritated when water from her electric dishwasher in her luxurious home flooded out onto her kitchen floor. She dashed for the mop. Just then her six-year-old son came whining into the room and, being ignored, emptied the trash basket into the growing puddle of water. Marjorie hit him across the face as hard as she could. He screamed in terror and pain. She then grabbed a leather belt and hit him across the backside again and again and again. She could not stop.
● For some time a bad feeling had been growing in the family of twenty-five-year-old Lee. He resented his mother and his sister. His mother ordered him out of the house, accusing him of stealing from her. A short time later the brewing aggression surfaced when Lee demanded money from his mother—at gunpoint. “You won’t shoot your own mother,” she cried out. He fired and she fell to the floor dying. He then shot his sister twice, critically wounding her, and fled.
The accounts are endless. Violence, the product of uncontrolled aggression, rules in many streets and homes. These could have been your neighbors, relatives or friends. Wanton aggression knows no age, racial, economic, social or ethnic boundaries.
It is likely that violence may touch your life or someone you love, for there has been a dramatic increase worldwide in the number of violent crimes. In Great Britain, between 1970 and 1980, there was a 50-percent increase in murder. The Federal Republic of Germany, South Africa, Italy and Canada all report alarming increases of violent crime. “There’s absolutely no doubt that more and more of our young people are turning to violence,” said Toronto’s deputy Crown Attorney.
The violence that reaches police reports is only the tip of the iceberg. Hidden in the privacy of homes are countless aggressive acts. Research has shown that the person most likely to kill you is not a robber on the street but a friend, an acquaintance or a family member. A team of American sociologists found that “violence between brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, parents and children ‘occurs more often than between any other individuals or in any other setting except for wars and riots.’”
Certainly today’s situation is a fulfillment of the prophetic description given in the Bible two thousand years ago: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, . . . having no natural affection, . . . without self-control, fierce.”—2 Timothy 3:1-4.
But what is it that makes persons so fierce or aggressive, often causing them to unleash ferocious rage on innocent victims? For instance, one young man got into a minor argument with his girl friend’s father. In a violent outburst he bludgeoned the man to death, raped and stabbed the girl friend’s younger sister, fatally stabbed her younger brother and knifed a two-year-old baby sleeping in its crib. Later, while in prison, the young man could not remember the actual murders. “I guess a whole lot of things I just kept inside of me,” he said, “jumped out all at once.” Then shaking his head in disbelief he added, ‘I sat there wondering, Is this me in here? Did I do all this?’
Was it possible for this young man to have controlled the aggression that built up inside of him? What were the roots of such aggression? Were previous circumstances in his life, including his parental care, responsible? Was it his environment? Was something physically wrong? Was it the product of his own faulty thinking? But even beyond all of this, What can you do to keep violence out of your home? The following articles will probe these questions.
There are a number of current theories as to what are the roots of aggression. To enable you to understand what some authorities feel are the causes and answers, an Awake! staff writer interviewed four researchers in this field. The following four pages are the results of those interviews containing their opinions as to the roots of violence.
[Graph on page 4]
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360% INCREASE IN VIOLENT CRIME IN 20 YEARS IN U.S.A.
1960 1965 1970 1975 1980
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Numbers represent rate of murder, rape, assault, robbery per 100,000 population