Children and crime

During the recent days of rioting and looting in England, children played a tragic part. Those setting fire to buildings, smashing storefronts, and attacking police included nine- and ten-year-olds, as well as hundreds of teen-agers.

When children are caught up in the turmoil of society's problems, there is still a teaching and restraining authority that people can turn to -- our divine Parent, God, whom Christ Jesus tells us is our Father. Isaiah saw this great fact when he wrote of God's people, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." n1 God is the ever-present power of good, governing and controlling His creation. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, defines God as "Mother" as well as "Father" -- our dual heavenly Parent. This Father-Mother God guides His offspring in His gentle greatness, holding them constantly in spiritual goodness and obedience.

n1 Isaiah 54:13;

In recognizing God also as Mind and Principle, Mrs. Eddy sees in Him the source of all law, exercising authority, order, and justice. She writes: "God creates and governs the universe, including man. The universe is filled with spiritual ideas, which He evolves, and they are obedient to the Mind that makes them." n2 Those disturbed by the increasing involvement of children in crime can hold firmly to the spiritual fact that God is in control, governing man, His immortal, perfect image, in eternal harmony and intelligence.

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 295;

When children do not know how to defend themselves, they sometimes come under false influences and are drawn into crime. Egged on by their peers, incited by outside agents, or simply caught up by the mesmerism of the moment, they fall victim to crimes they would not normally commit. Again, it is necessary for us to recognize God as the one and only power. There is in reality no evil power to influence man, for man is God's own spiritual idea, the climax of creation. All God's children (including the true identity of every woman, man, and child) are innately good and cannot project evil. Evil is neither a power nor a person. Recognizing the ever-presence and omnipotence of God and the spirituality and permanence of man in God's image, we can successfully deny the supposed power of evil and help protect the purity and goodness of young people.

One morning a teacher heard a young teen-ager boasting to friends in his Sunday School class how he had "lifted" a case of soft drinks from a delivery truck. Seeing that he was rapidly becoming the hero of the class, she gently pointed out the consequences of his act and made clear that even stealing in a small degree was breaking the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." n3 This same fact applied, whether one was stealing a case of drink or a Cadillac. Stealing was selfish. Did he realize the distress he had caused the driver, who may have had to pay for the missing drinks? Also, having younger brothers, this boy was in a position of trust, responsible for setting an example. Stealing in any form was breaking that trust. The teen-ager got the point and promised to buy his soft drinks at the store in future.

n3 Exodus 20:15;

Faced with the mindless destruction in Liverpool and other cities, people may be tempted to despair. But God does control His children, and thoughtful prayer strengthens our perception of this fact. When this prayer is made with faith and inspiration and proved in our own lives, another verse from Isaiah will be brought closer to fulfillment: "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders." n4

n4 Isaiah 60:18.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19:1 1, 12

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