Raising Children to Hate, Murder, and Suicide
Eitan D. Schwarz, M.D., D.L.F.A.P.A., F.A.A.C.A.P.
CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, FEINBERG SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Copyright © 2007 Eitan D Schwarz. All rights reserved. This handout may be copied and distributed only for non-profit educational use.
You are snuggling with your four year old, watching The Wizard of Oz. This is what you see:
Near the end of the movie, the Wizard emerges. He gives the Lion courage and says, “Lion, you now have the courage to sneak into a school of little Munchkins and murder as many as you can and kill yourself in the process. Do it soon, and you will be a hero.” He tells the Scarecrow as he hands him brains, “Scarecrow, now you can figure out the best way to make a bomb full of nails and other sharp metal pieces to strap to your friend so that he can blow himself up into bits in a restaurant full of women and children Munchkins, killing as many of these pigs as he can along with himself.” And he also advises the Tin Man, “Tin Man, now you can have a heart that can contain so much hatred that you will want to kill and kill and kill as many Munchkins as you can and even yourself.” The Wizard then says to all, “You know, guys, Munchkins are not like us. Don’t worry. They are pigs and killers. Once you die killing them, and it is better that you die so that you can come back to Emerald City and have anything you want. Oh, and your surviving family on Earth will receive many gifts from me.” And then he turns to Dorothy, “As for you, young lady, here are your Ruby Slippers. Click them and go back home to Kansas and raise your children to become a cell of martyrs who hate and murder as many Americans as possible, and in the process die violently and gloriously themselves.”
After the movie, you gently stroke your son’s hair, and tell him softly how proud of him you will be when he grows up to have the courage, intelligence, and heart to hate and murder and die, and be a hero just like the girl next door.
Surreal and unthinkable as this illustration may seem to most readers, a quick search of YouTube (for a relatively mild example, see
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gi-c6lbFGC4) will demonstrate that this type of indoctrination to hate is widespread in certain cultures.
Child abuse is not new, and the list is long of instances where violence injures children and damages their development. Children go unprotected and are abused physically and psychologically in domestic violence and by child labor. Children are kidnapped and coerced into prostitution, or forced to become soldiers and killers. Children in war and genocide zones, and children growing up in crime-infested inner cities are often molested, injured, have severe losses and displacements, and witness violence and crass indifference to human life. Children in all types of homes are abused by physically and emotionally violent parents.
In the America’s and other societies’ inner cities, where families are especially undermined by poverty and poor resources, children are frequently initiated into violent alternative street gang cultures by committing rape and murder. The mainstream culture is in constant conflict with these criminals. These are all unacceptable forms of child abuse, and any social structure that sanctions it is accountable for mistreating its most precious resources.
Parents naturally do their best to protect and shield children from these horrible abuses. Except for domestic violence, children are usually damaged by events outside the control of their parents. But there is now festering in our world another, especially malicious, type of socially sanctioned violence to children never before seen on such a scale and with such intensity and malevolence. For political reasons, entire societies encourage parents to sacrifice children and raise ‘martyrs’ – children who hate and commit mayhem, murder, and suicide. With more fervor than ever used to promote their children’s healthy living, or used to advance their academic, moral, social, and athletic success, these parents are intentionally and proudly encouraging children as young as two to hate, to kill, and to die.
While dissenting humane voices are silenced, entire cultures of hate exist in which the major social institutions of school, media, and houses of worship openly urge children as young as two, first, to dehumanize and hate, and then, to commit murder and suicide. In these societies children are constantly barraged with messages that engaging in activities designed to murder and maim other people, while causing their owns deaths in the process, fulfills God’s wishes and should be their life’s supreme goal and moral duty. Hating, killing, and dying will make them national and religious heroes who will receive beautious rewards in the after life, even as their families are provided with large rewards for their deaths.
Most of us instinctively recoil with horror and disbelief that parents would engage in such a way toward their children. It is contrary to everything we know as good, acceptable, and decent behavior. We have to struggle to grasp how they could, in good conscience and with love, go along with, even encourage and promote these actions.
We know that many children who witness or experience violence are traumatized for life. We know that children inducted into violent street gangs often become violent adults. Children who are exposed to media violence act more aggressively than children who do not view a steady stream of violence. And we know that too many soldiers return from combat so emotionally damaged that they cannot readjust to family life, or to the rewards of human relationships, and they can no longer fit into society. This severe damage occurs even though these soldiers are older and have received training and treatment intended to help them understand their violent experiences within emotional, social, and moral frameworks. And we know that even while also targets of aggressive hate propaganda, children raised in Nazi Germany were never bombarded by urgings to kill on the personalized level, scale, and psychological depth seen today.
A large body of research has already shown that a balanced social, emotional, and moral training of children is necessary for proper development as healthy, well-functioning adults. Violence damages both the physical and psychological well-being of children. The psychological results to children’s development are often the more damaging because these outlast the physical, continue to fester into adulthood, and are transmitted to generations that follow. The long-term moral, cultural, political, and social consequences of raising generations of children to hate, kill, and die deserve more study, as do the psychological effects on the children themselves.
This type of child abuse is especially dangerous. The earlier the learning of attitudes and training in a social behaviors, the more deeply they become rooted in a person’s nature, making them more powerful throughout his life and more difficult to unlearn. While grownups in hate-inciting cultures think that they are creating child murderers to act only against specific groups, the fact is that the younger children are, the less a particular label matters to them. Actually, calling the target of hate American, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Munchkin, Muslim, Sunni, or Shiite is meaningless because children generalize and learn that all hating, killing, and suicide is good. Teaching suicide does even more to demean the value of all life. Adolescents, children raised in this way do grow up to become murders and homicide bombers.
Parents and societies that intentionally incite and socialize children to hate are exploiting and abusing them. As human beings, we are saddened by how societies foster such hate that parents sacrifice – no, proudly encourage — their own children to die while murdering others. Do societies that sanction this vicious child abuse belong in the family of civilized nations? What is an appropriate response to this tragedy?
Sadly, we must always protect ourselves and our own society from children raised to murder, even as they grow up, by identifying, assessing, and rehabilitating them from the lingering influences of early incitement to violence. We must work energetically on all levels to protect children by identifying and stopping abusive families and societies (see http://www.teachkidspeace.org). We must insist that these cultures stop this behavior and instead channel major resources towards assessing the damage already done and undertake effective re-education and rehabilitation on both individual and societal levels. The abusing parents should be punished, but must at the same time be offered support to raise their children to become healthy, productive, and well functioning adults. And most of all, we must make our own society abuse- and exploitation-free as we affirm and strengthen our own values and pass these on to our children (see Teaching Children Alternatives To Violence.)
With gratitude to Anita Rosenfield, Ph.D., Yavapai College, Sedona, Arizona, for her generous help.