In 1992, the Youth Section of the Sunday School Board's Discipleship and Family Development Division surveyed about 5,000 teenagers who attended Southern Baptist Summer Youth Celebration events at Glorieta (N.M.) and Ridgecrest (N.C.) conference centers about the impact of violence in their lives. Here are the results.

Personal Involvement with Violence

27 percent indicated they have been involved in a physical attack on another person.

Approximately 25 percent have participated in the destruction of both private and public property.

Approximately 20 percent of the observed violence was influenced by either drugs or alcohol.

Approximately 30 percent have carried weapons and 7 out of 10 have observed youth at their schools with guns, knives, or other weapons.

22 percent of youth have been attacked.

Approximately 75 percent agree that violence in the media affects a person's behavior.

16 percent reported that media violence had affected their own behavior.

Violence in the Media

Over 90 percent of the youth notice violence in movies, TV shows, and music videos.

58 percent of the youth feel this violence to be, to some degree, acceptable.

Approximately 75 percent agree that violence in the media affects a person's behavior.

16 percent reported that media violence had affected their own behavior.

Violence in Education

40 percent of youth indicated that they learned from their church how to overcome hostile feelings.

69 percent of the youth indicated that they learned violent behaviors from the media. Friends was a close second followed by parents and school.

One's own self was indicated as the individual most influential in changing a person's violent behaviors. Friends was the second choice.

The majority of youth in this survey go to friends for help with their feelings of anger and hostility Parents are a distant second.

Violence in the Home

22 percent of the youth have observed violent behaviors in their homes.

The father is the most likely to have exhibited these behaviors. Brothers are a close second.

77 percent of the youth reported there was a gun in their homes.

Violence and Gangs

52 percent of the youth reported that gangs exist in their local schools.

21 percent reported that gangs exist in their neighborhoods.

5 percent have participated in gangs.

Violence and Authority Figures

10 percent indicated they had been physically attacked by a person in authority.

The majority indicated they had seen at least one person react violently to someone in authority.

Violence and Personal Feelings

47 percent indicated they "hold their anger inside — and they try to forget it."

Approximately 30 percent indicated they feel a need for help in coping with anger.

25 percent of the youth have recently felt they were in danger of being attacked.

Sexual Violence

9 percent have personally experienced sexual violence, which occurred on a date or at school.

4 percent indicated they had been raped.

Everyday in America

6 children and youth commit suicide. a 14 children and youth are murdered.

16 children and youth are killed by firearms.

326 children are arrested for alcohol offenses.

342 children are arrested for violent crimes.

359 children are arrested for drug offenses.

1,420 babies are born to mothers younger than 20.

2,444 babies are born to mothers who are not high school graduates.

3,356 high school students drop out (every school day).

3,533 babies are born to unmarried mothers.

6,042 children are arrested.

13,076 public school students are suspended (every school day).



Entertainer Supports BSSB's New Anti-violence Campaign
by Terri Lackey

Contemporary Christian music artist Michael W. Smith and his wife, Debbie, have joined forces with the Baptist Sunday School Board in a nationwide violence prevention/intervention campaign.

The objective of the campaign, according to David Bennett, BSSB youth specialist and coordinator of the Positive Impact emphasis, "is to get churches to acknowledge that violence is out there and to show that something positive can be done about it."

Smith performed at the Positive Impact conference at Ridgecrest in December. Before the concert, Michael and Debbie answered youth leaders' questions and concerns about teen violence. The Smiths, parents of five children ages 5-13, say they will have teenagers in their family through the year 2010.

Smith said he believes media, especially television and cinema, are the heaviest sources of violence. And that poses a problem for the Smiths, whose oldest child, Ryan, 13, is interested in cinema production, and hopes to one day become involved in the field. "Ryan loves action type movies; he likes violence in movies," Smith said. 'We just have to be careful what we take him to see. Needless to say, we've made some good decisions and some bad decisions."

For the past year, television has not been a source of viewing violence for the Smith family, according to Debbie.

'When we began paying attention to some of the popular television shows, we noticed the language was getting really bad. So we decided to quit watching television for a month. That turned into a year, and now the only television set we have in our home is a small one in the kitchen," she said.

Keeping young people away from television, R-rated movies, and cruising the streets is the vision behind Smith's drug and alcohol-free nightclub for teenagers called Rocketown, located in Franklin, TN. Smith hopes to open his second and third clubs in Minneapolis, MN, and Phoenix, AZ. The club features both Christian and mainstream music in order to pull non-Christians as well as Christians off the streets, Smith said. Once inside the nightclub, a staff of committed Christians witness to the teens.

Meanwhile, Bennett said youth specialists in the Board's Discipleship and Family Development Division began three years ago thinking about a resource for church youth leaders that would sensitize them to the violence around them and aid them in responding to it.

"The message relating to violence is not just, 'Don't hit each other.' There is so much more to it. God calls us to be peacemakers, and there are a lot of ways we can fulfill that call."

The teaching aims of the campaign are to lead youth to:

analyze how they might live in peace while taking steps to live in safety;

recognize their sources of protection and ways they might increase their resilience;

create positive, close-knit relationships through the Spirit of Christ;

express an understanding of how to be a good friend who makes a positive impact in the lives of their friends;

recognize that being drug and alcohol free is evidence of their commitment to living as Christians, as well as a deterrent to violence;

commit to living a life free of violence.

Bennett said the campaign involves a seven-step strategy that culminates Friday, October 31, 1997 — the day churches are asked to participate in an "Impact Extravaganza" as they observe together the national emphasis on teen violence prevention and intervention.

"As with any social issue or moral crisis, the birth of positive change starts in the heart," Bennett said. Positive Impact is calling youth to become peacemakers, first, through their church youth groups, then to their homes, schools and communities."

Resources: Information packets about Positive Impact can be obtained by calling David Bennett at (615) 251-2855.

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