Participants: Dwain Esmond, Karen Thomas
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000061
00:02 ¤ ¤
00:31 Hello. When you consider the fact that a young child can walk
00:36 into a school room with a gun, pull the trigger and change
00:42 their circumstances as well as the lives or snuff out the life
00:46 of another child and of the teacher. It is something that is
00:51 heartbreaking, it's heart wrenching. School violence is
00:55 our subject today on Issues and Answers. And speaking on this
00:59 is Dwain Esmond. He is the associate editor of Message
01:05 magazine. Mr. Esmond has written a book, Beyond the In A
01:11 Pinch God and he has given many motivational speeches and talks
01:15 around the country. Today we're going to discuss the topic
01:19 school violence and what can be done about it. Welcome to the
01:22 program. Thank you very much Karen.
01:24 Thank you for having me. This is one of those topics that has
01:30 kind of been in the news of late. We have the young man in
01:36 Florida, the 14-year-old, who I guess was 13 at the time when he
01:41 walked into school gun, pointed it straight at his teacher and
01:46 basically ended his life. We now have the end of the story, well
01:52 the next stage in the story. This young man has been
01:55 sentenced to prison for 20 plus years, I believe it was 28 years
01:59 or something like that. We've also heard about the Paducah,
02:05 Kentucky, the Jonesborough, Arkansas, the Springfield,
02:09 Oregon. As we hear about these things there is a certain theme
02:16 that kind of undergirds them when you listen to the comments
02:22 of parents or loved ones or people who kind of weigh in from
02:27 the community. Many say I never thought it could happen here.
02:32 You hear that a lot. You hear Well he would never do something
02:37 like that. You know, he never really had those signs. He was
02:41 was basically a loner. Or you know. And even the parents of
02:45 children who perform that kind of violence often say Man you
02:49 know my kid, you know, I never expected this from my child.
02:55 And my goal today is just to kind of try to equip parents
03:00 with some tools, or some skills or some things that can make
03:05 them aware of the challenges that children face and kind of
03:08 how to meet those challenges. I mean, we are very clued in
03:13 I want to say first of all that parents are doing a tremendous
03:17 job. Many parents do a tremendous job in silence and in
03:23 the quiet and the media, the cameras will not focus on them,
03:27 will never find them because they do their thing quietly.
03:31 And their children are well adjusted members of society.
03:36 That's just not sexy in our culture for the cameras to find
03:41 them. However, they do the best they can. So let me just affirm
03:46 those parents that are really making an effort to do their
03:49 very best. There are some who are pulled here and there
03:51 because of the challenges of our society and work and that sort
03:57 of thing and I want to encourage them also. Those parents that
04:01 they can really have an impact in their children's lives and
04:05 prevent some of what we see happening in society. I do want
04:11 to begin by sharing a scripture that really came home to me in
04:17 stark relief as I watched one of these events unfold. It's found
04:22 in the book of Psalms and it's Psalm 139. I'm looking now
04:30 specifically at verses 14 and 15 I will praise thee, this is the
04:37 psalmist David speaking for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
04:43 Marvelous are thy works, David says, and that my soul knoweth
04:48 right well. It's like he's saying man I look at myself and
04:52 I'm good. I'm good. I mean I'm good, you know. I mean the Lord
04:56 has done something great in me. I may have flaws, I may have
05:00 problems but man he did the job well. And even after years of
05:04 sin and the depreciation that sin brings to the human form,
05:08 I'm still good, I'm still wonderfully made. He goes on.
05:12 Verse 15: My substance was not hid from thee when I was made
05:17 in secret, when I was conceived. Hey, the Lord saw me then and he
05:21 knew I was going to be conceived at that place where my dad and
05:26 mom got together, wherever that was. He knew it and he saw me.
05:31 And he goes on to say and curiously wrought in the lowest
05:35 parts of the earth. He basically knew me. I think of that text
05:38 and then I also think of Jeremiah, who was a young man,
05:42 called by God for a special purpose at a very young age and
05:47 this is what he says about himself. I'm looking now at
05:50 Jeremiah chapter 1 and verse 5. And the Bible says here: Before
05:56 I formed thee, this is God speaking, before I formed thee
06:00 in the belly I knew thee and before thou camest forth out of
06:05 the womb I sanctify thee. I set you apart for a holy purpose
06:12 before you even came out. And I obtained thee a prophet unto the
06:18 nations. I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
06:21 The Lord had a special purpose for this young man's life and
06:27 every time I see a shooting or I watch someone who is undergoing
06:32 one of these traumatic events, I believe that God's heart has to
06:38 break. It has to ache because that's one person for whom he
06:44 had designed a special plan and that person will not be able to
06:49 complete it. I believe that maybe some part of him dies
06:56 and all of heaven must stop because God has lost one of his
07:00 children and that's replicated across our nation. We're just
07:05 talking about the ones, the big events that get all the media
07:09 coverage. But there are many times over that children are
07:12 injured and killed whatever the case might be and they don't
07:16 get attention. But heaven stops and heaven pays attention. And I
07:21 believe that God has given us tools and equipment to meet that
07:26 need and I want to talk a little bit about that today.
07:28 I think one of the first things parents can do... Well maybe I
07:34 should tell a story. I remember when I was in sixth grade,
07:39 another Dwain and I, both Dwains there were two of us in this
07:44 sixth grade class. When we were for some reason kind of getting
07:49 upset at each other. Like all good kids in the sixth grade
07:53 would do, they're going to goad you on to fight. And I remember
07:57 you know all day, it was like we were angling to a match at the
08:00 end of the day. You know for some reason he and I got
08:04 together in a quiet moment, you know, while all the tension was
08:07 raging around us and we were like, do you want to fight?
08:09 I was like no I don't want to fight, do you want to fight?
08:12 and we were like, no we don't want to fight. But the tension
08:15 was so heightened that man we figured that, Man, we had to do
08:18 something to each other. So his friends took him out back behind
08:22 the school. My friends took me and we scrapped out there for a
08:26 while until an adult came and broke it all up. And then his
08:29 friends walked off telling him he won. My friends walked off
08:33 telling me I won. You know. Then there were other times when I
08:37 got into scrapes in high school and other things like that and I
08:42 can't help but think that if that happened to me several
08:46 years ago there's got to be something going on today. I can
08:50 just imagine what kids undergo today. So with that in mind
08:55 there's a tremendous study that was recently done by the Centers
09:00 for Disease Control. Chronically youth violence in the school
09:03 system and I just want to share maybe one or two stats about
09:07 that and kind of clue parents in to what their kids might be facing
09:12 specifically if they're in a public school setting. And of
09:16 course Christian schools, parochial schools are not immune
09:20 to this either. But definitely in public schools. The study
09:25 related that 35.7 percent of high school students reported
09:30 being involved in a physical fight in the past 12 months.
09:34 That's over 1/3 of the student body reported being involved in
09:40 a physical altercation. Four percent of those altercations
09:45 resulted in injuries that were severe enough that these
09:49 children had to go to the hospital for treatment.
09:52 So this is really quite an impact, when you think about
09:56 every day for parents. If you're sending your child to public
10:01 schools or to school there's 34 percent you said?
10:08 Thirty-five point seven. Thirty-five point seven percent
10:10 So you can plan on the fact that someone's going to call you on
10:14 your job and say you've got to come to the school or your child
10:18 has been taken to the hospital. And all the employers with all
10:23 the parents can count on that same statistic, the number of
10:27 medical claims for those within the school district. It's quite
10:32 an impact. And the cost is enormous.
10:35 The cost of lost time on the job when parents have to leave, the
10:41 cost of the kids being out of school and having to provide
10:45 some kind of care for them while they're out, suspension or
10:48 whatever the case might be really escalates. And while it
10:52 might be only four percent of the kids that actually have to
10:56 go to the hospital or something like that, many will be injured
11:00 and to say nothing of the psychological injury that goes
11:04 along, the baggage that goes along with a physical
11:06 altercation. Many of them miss days. They're fearful. They feel
11:11 powerless. They feel really challenged. And then how will
11:14 they learn which is the real object of why they go to school.
11:19 So how will they learn in an environment of fear? This is a
11:24 real serious issue right now. And while we may not always see
11:29 it coming up to the media radar screen, being right there on our
11:34 hot button, it is essential that parents pay attention to kind of
11:38 like the warning signs of when their children may begin to
11:43 be getting into some trouble or getting into problems and how
11:47 head that off. That's what we want to talk about today.
11:50 One of the things that I think parents can do is to restore the
11:57 broken alter in the home. Amen. I think it all begins... now
12:02 I have done a little research on this issue and I've gotten
12:08 the steps that the CDC gives for parents to follow if they want
12:13 to prevent youth violence and violence in their school system.
12:17 I've seen those and it's great. I'm going to talk about some of
12:23 that today. But at the heart of it parents must convey a sense
12:31 that God is in control of your school system, your life. When
12:37 you leave this house you are not alone. When we drop you off at
12:43 that school you ain't alone. There is a God whose protecting
12:48 arm is around you as if there was no other person on this
12:53 planet, you by yourself. Now you may not always feel that way but
12:58 it is true. I remember my mother would wake us up in the morning
13:05 at 5 o'clock. She was an early riser and she would drag us out
13:11 of bed at 5 in the morning, my dad included, and he would
13:18 wander down with his Bible and everyone is in some stage of
13:23 unrest at the time. But he would have worship. I mean this
13:27 continued even when I went to college. I'd come home and I'd
13:32 be like mom come on. I just got in. Or I've only been here a
13:36 few days, been a hard semester, let me sleep. She'd wake us up
13:40 anyway. She was like well you can go back to sleep after this
13:45 10 or 15 minutes are over. But it really served to protect us
13:50 I think in terms of having a sense of God's presence always
13:54 in our lives. I'm not going to say I remember everything at
13:59 5 in the morning, but the sense of God's presence was there.
14:03 Now were you raised in a small town?
14:05 I was raised, no it wasn't a small town. It was a pretty
14:10 large city. I was raised in East Orange, New Jersey for the
14:15 better part of my life and... You were in the thick of it.
14:20 Oh I was in the city. Those prayers and your
14:27 experience was real. Oh, very real to me. I remember
14:30 seeing a fight, this was fight, not between guys, this was like
14:35 two girls. I mean I thought guys fought bad. But these girls
14:41 fought for like seven blocks. The fight just kept breaking up
14:47 and going further down the street. It continued for seven
14:52 blocks. Family members jumping in and friends getting involved.
14:57 And then I remember several police cars just breaking up
15:03 packs of... That was the kind of arena that I was in. And that
15:08 was junior high school. That wasn't even high school. When I
15:13 got to high school my public high school had 2300 students.
15:19 And in fact I write about this a little bit in my book about how
15:22 when you go through the hallways it was like a sea of people just
15:25 washing up. Man you would just get lost in this sea and wash up
15:28 by your class. That's how we felt. It felt like it was just
15:32 thousands of people around you all the time and in such close
15:36 confined spaces. You know, nerves get frayed. Teenagers too
15:40 Teenagers. You know you've got all the juices flowing and you
15:44 rub somebody the wrong way or somebody thinks you rubbed their
15:49 girl the wrong way. I mean, it wasn't a pressure cooker but it
15:53 was close to it. And when you think of that kind of
15:57 environment, some people might say well you know I don't live
15:59 in the city. I'm outside the city. Well that's where the
16:03 Jonesboro's happened. And that's where the Paducah's happened. So
16:07 There's a little crowd every Saturday night or Friday night.
16:10 You can go to any town no matter how large or small and you will
16:13 see the hang-out group. Oh yah and that hang-out group
16:16 is not hanging out there talking about the love of Jesus. I'm
16:19 sorry. They're hanging out thinking OK what are we going
16:23 to do to entertain ourselves.
16:25 And drug traffic is traffic, that means it's constantly
16:29 moving from community to community. So your mother did
16:33 not play. At 5 a. m. she was there and with a lot of good
16:36 reasons for it. Bright and very early she would
16:40 be out there. But I think she had reason to be because she was
16:43 concerned about the environment that we were in. I think we
16:48 escaped a lot of things, some things rubbed off unfortunately.
16:52 And I'm not going to say I'm perfect today or anything.
16:55 I didn't make it through unscathed. There are things in
16:57 my life that I got involved with in public school that I wish I
17:01 never did, you know. But praise God, I've come through a lot of
17:06 that and he continues to work with me. So restoring the altar
17:12 in the home is absolutely essential. And that's worship to
17:17 God. A part of that worship has to be prayer and I think it is
17:23 important that parents pray for their children each day as in
17:28 they will pray that the Lord protects them and call their
17:32 name in their presence before the Lord that God will watch
17:38 over them, protect them, that he would massage their brain and
17:43 strengthen it, that he would give them coping skills, that he
17:48 would help them to be able to navigate this trying
17:54 circumstance in which they are finding themselves. Some people
17:57 think now school is a breeze. School is not a breeze, not
18:01 today. You've got all kinds of people in school who don't mean
18:04 you well, kids who come from broken homes, kids who are
18:09 little wards of their parents. Some parents don't care. You
18:14 have kinds with emotional problems, kids with all kind of
18:19 issues and neglect. That's a big one.
18:22 Big one. And the kids are sitting there, they can't really
18:26 learn and they turn on your little cherub who you raised
18:30 perfectly and pray that God will protect, they turn on them. So
18:35 we have got to be very proactive about praying for our children.
18:40 Another thing. I don't think you can really expect your kids to
18:46 do well in school, be able to handle the emotional stresses
18:52 that come as a result of altercations and things if you
18:59 don't model it at home. I mean think about it. Can you really
19:05 expect for your child to be calm if you are yelling all the time?
19:11 In my home, my dad and I we probably share the closest
19:17 temperament. He loves a good argument. OK. And so do I. When
19:23 we get together, theological issues, whatever the issue might
19:29 be we always happen to be, I don't know how it is but we
19:32 happen to be on the opposite side. We're never on the same
19:36 side very often. But to solve our stuff we would get loud with
19:40 each other. And I would tell him you are crazy. You're out of
19:44 your mind, that is not true. That's when it's before a
19:48 certain point. After a certain point he says OK I'm your father
19:53 this conversation is over. Before that point but I picked
19:59 up those kind of skills for coping with conflict and I'm not
20:06 blaming my father by any chance.
20:07 No I think all of us if we're honest with ourselves if we
20:11 whatever, I mean that's why there's a Savior. We're in need
20:15 of a Savior. Something, it's mostly ourselves
20:20 But I picked up those things. I remember when I got into my
20:23 relationship, when I met my wife freshman year of college
20:26 she came from a family, and I've seen it now since I've met her
20:31 family, the family's real quiet, real easy going. The way they
20:36 solve issues is like kind of calm and some things are left
20:40 unsaid. My family, Oh it's all coming out on the table OK.
20:44 That's the only way we're going to settle it. Everything has to
20:47 be laid out to the nth degree. I think like in marriage there's
20:51 always one that's the calm family and then there's the
20:54 other one that's from the in- your-face kind of family.
20:58 I'm from the in-your-face family OK. We were close up to each
21:02 other. And there were times when things I said really hurt her.
21:07 I mean, really hurt here. And there were times when I exploded
21:12 and she was that like... that was just new to her. And that
21:16 meant that the relationship was over and that I detested her and
21:21 I didn't want to be with her anymore. I didn't say that but
21:26 my mannerism conveyed that, my language choice, the way I spoke
21:30 everything just conveyed that kind of message to her and she
21:34 was like man who am I dealing with here? So I had to realize
21:39 that and through a lot of reading and things I learned
21:41 you know you got to calm some of that stuff down and let the Lord
21:45 take it from you. But to get back to the point kids will
21:51 model what they see in their homes. So if you talk about
21:57 people all the time in your home if you have no kind of problem
22:03 solving skill and all you do is rant and rave and carry on kids
22:07 will eventually figure that that's the only way to respond.
22:12 How do you change that? Well one thing is I believe you have
22:17 to educate yourself. You have to take the time to get the
22:22 resources that can really help you to educate your children
22:26 and be intelligent and proactive about not only the way you
22:30 respond but how they respond. That's one of the ways. I think
22:35 modeling is important. I do want to mention maybe a few
22:38 other ways that parents need to be very proactive. Parents must
22:44 know where their children are. That seems like such a simple
22:49 thing. It seems like that should not even need to be said, but
22:54 in reality what happens after school, what happens during
22:59 school, what happens before school. Many parents don't know.
23:05 They're busy. And again, parents I understand. I'm going to be a
23:11 parent one day and so I might have to eat the words I'm saying
23:16 right now. Maybe I'll have to. But I just believe that you have
23:22 to make time for your children and there really is no
23:27 substitute for time. You have to find out where you are. Who are
23:32 their friends? How are you going to know the warning signs.
23:36 I know when I was a teenager I remember when I didn't want to
23:41 be around my parents. Now I can't be around them enough.
23:44 I remember when I didn't want... I mean they were uncool. They
23:49 were not happening, OK. So I needed to be away with my
23:52 friends. But how do you connect with kids like that. You have
23:58 got to perhaps make your home the meeting spot. You've got to
24:03 extend yourself. And one of the points that I put down is you've
24:07 got to put your values out there so kids can see them. OK.
24:12 So you're against this, you're against the drugs and you're
24:16 against all of this stuff. The music. You don't like anything
24:21 they do. Well what are you for that they do? What are you for?
24:26 If a parent is unwilling to go that extra mile then I think
24:32 things begin to happen. These shootings and this violence that
24:38 happens in our society, it wasn't just born in a day.
24:41 Every one of those young people that we have come to know so
24:46 well in the past few years, the boys in Columbine, they had a
24:52 story around their lives. Those parents were so detached from
24:57 them that they felt that they could build bombs in their rooms
25:02 and no one would know it. I couldn't imagine that. Well
25:06 first of all it wouldn't have worked in my home because I had
25:09 three other brothers in my room. So if I had a bomb under the
25:12 bed they probably would have known it by then. I couldn't
25:14 have gotten away with that. But the reality is that we have got
25:19 to do our very best, our very best, to find out, to put our
25:23 values out there, to be proactive with our children.
25:26 I do want to mention one other point. Parents must get involved
25:31 in their school system. You must be involved in the community.
25:37 You must engage the outside world if you hope to have an
25:43 influence on it. The chances are that if kids know who John's
25:49 parents are, John's parents are visible, John's parents are
25:53 willing to take them to the plays and to take them out and
25:57 to do things with them, chances are John won't be the child they
26:03 target. Maybe somebody else and that influence is important.
26:08 The final thing I want to say is parents don't be afraid to say
26:14 I don't know. Don't be afraid to say I don't have all the
26:20 answers. Sweetheart, I remember when I was in a similar
26:27 situation and this happened to me. We can't be afraid to say
26:34 Hey I messed up. I was bullied or I had this problem and here's
26:38 how I dealt with it. That was wrong. Here's what I think you
26:43 should do. I think this is a good way to handle it. And with
26:48 much prayer, much intervention I think we can protect our
26:53 children. Well I certainly appreciate the
26:56 amount of time and research and valuable information. I mean,
27:02 it's just been a blessing to receive this kind of information
27:07 from a spiritual perspective, one that uplifts God and says
27:11 you know we need to admit where we. And we don't have the
27:15 the capability within ourselves to do that. These are some
27:20 steps... What is it Philippians 4:13 says: I can do all things
27:24 through Christ who strengthens me. We can't do these things on
27:28 own, you know. Some parents are really heartbroken by the things
27:32 that are happening with their kids and they feel like it's
27:35 totally out of control. And we like to be able to share that
27:37 with you. If you are experiencing that today you are
27:40 not alone and this is not impossible. God can help you get
27:43 through this situation. And we're going to be praying for
27:47 you and there's someone on the line that's willing to pray for
27:50 you as well. So please dial the 800 number on your screen, write
27:54 us, call us, we'll do anything we can to support you as a
27:57 parent and may God bless you until next time.