I consider it a privilege to be able to write serious and sobering messages for young persons to perhaps
get them to see life more clearly and to think more intelligently about the choices they make, choices that may affect their lives for
decades, maybe even forever.
When I write my messages to teens I urge them to take
life seriously. It is a blessing, I believe, to be alive and healthy, and not be
sick or crippled, in prison or dead.
I also want to tell teenagers, especially the guys,
because they're the ones who often act impulsively and think they're invincible, that the road to mahood and getting respect should never involve violence.
To me, there is nothing more cowardly than stabbing
someone with a knife, or slicing their face with a razor, or pointing a gun at an unarmed individual and shooting him.
There is nothing manly or cool about carrying a weapon,
not even if you're trying to make the lame excuse that you're carrying it for "protection."
At the prison I live in are men who've ruined their
lives. Many of them will swear that, when they did their crime, they never
considered the consequences, and they never thought about the families of the victim(s), or how these people would suffer grief, pain and
Now, however, it's just the opposite. Now these guys, who are locked up in cages like wild animals, think about their stupid crimes a lot. For many of them the faces of their victims have come back to haunt them.
Some young persons may feel cheated at love, or that
life has dealt them a cruel hand. But as best is is possible, family members and friends, teachers
and guidance counselors, youth ministers, police officers, and everyone in the
communiaty need to be on point, watching for those who are troubled, angry, withdrawn or hurting.
Do not expect a troubled teenager to communicate his
or her feelings to you,
either. Most teens who are angry brood a lot. They try to keep their anger
up. But they will drop many hints that something's not right. And you have to be concerned and
alert enough to watch for such things.
Furthermore, teenagers need to be responsible for their
violence. A person who hurts or destroys someone's life must be held accountable.
I am not referring to "zero tolerance" where a harsh
punishment is inflicted on a young person and no room is allowed for mercy and mitigating circumstances.
But in a civilized society, damaging lives and property of others cannot be
permitted. Most of all, teenagers need to be taught to value life. Life is something to cherish and respect. It
is a gift from God, and it is sacred.
In addition, teens, I believe, need to know that there
is a God who created them and who cares about them. They also need to learn how to solve their
everyone has problems---without reaching for a gun, knife or club.
In my opinion, being violent is not a sign of manhood
and mturity, but of childishness and stupidity.
August 28, 2004
(c)2004 David Berkowitz