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FIRST-PERSON: Violent kids, irresponsible parents, immoral society — from dodgeball?

BENTON, Ill. (BP)–After witnessing episode after episode of gun-toting students rampaging through the halls of their schools, it’s comforting to know someone has finally pinpointed the problem’s source.

It’s not what you might think.

The Austin, Texas, school district seems to believe the problem involves more than lousy parents or gun-toting students who should be held responsible for their own actions or the disappearance of morals in virtually every aspect of society.

The real culprit? Dodgeball.

In a May 6 New York Times story, Austin school officials seem to believe dodgeball games create menacing students. “This is something that should not be used in today’s classroom, especially in today’s society,” curriculum specialist Diane Farr told the newspaper. “With Columbine and all the violence that we are having, we have to be very careful with how we teach our children.”

Austin is among several school districts that have banned the gym class game because they consider it too aggressive and unwholesome in nature. In Cecil County, Md., school officials have gone so far as to discourage all “human target” sports, including football.

Let’s think about this for a minute. If children have been playing dodgeball in school for decades, and if school shootings like Columbine started only a couple of years ago, it’s probably a safe bet that harmless dodgeball games aren’t responsible for transforming children into cold-blooded killers.

Doesn’t logic dictate something here? If a direct link between dodgeball and a maniacal mindset in kids existed, wouldn’t the school shootings have started shortly after dodgeball was invented? How many people played dodgeball as children and yet managed to become productive members of society? Maybe we’re all just adept at suppressing the bloodthirsty desires instilled in us by throwing a rubber ball at a classmate.

People like Farr who come up with such notions would be better off addressing more glaring shortcomings in society than dodgeball games. There’s no scarcity of problems to blame for tragic school shootings like Columbine.

Blame it on absentee parents who never spend any time with their kids because they’re too busy working. Too many parents care more about their personal fulfillment and career advancement than they do about their own families. And too many parents think they’re doing their job because they buy their kids expensive gadgets like TVs, VCRs and CD players.

Blame it on graphic violence and sex in movies and music. Artists (in the loosest sense of the word) like Marilyn Manson and Eminem glorify all that’s decadent and promote every kind of debauchery imaginable. And mindless parents, clueless about what their children are absorbing, do nothing to keep their kids from listening to this garbage. Of course, it’s these same parents who drop their kids off at the movie theater to watch raunchy movies they have no business seeing. The old “garbage in, garbage out” credo is pretty profound.

Blame it on a society that has abandoned God, morality and any belief in absolute truth. Children aren’t taught anymore that some things are right and some things are wrong, period, because most adults don’t believe that. Nor are they taught that their actions come with consequences and that God has certain expectations of people. As a result, children do what they want to do without any regard for anyone else.

Blame it on any number of things. But please, don’t blame it on dodgeball.
Ellsworth is a reporter for the Benton (Ill.) Evening News and a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Benton.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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