By Clyde Lewis

Ground Zero Special Report:
When Killing Becomes Child's Play
Have we forgotten about our children?

It was almost a two years ago when I was a producer for an Am talk show in Salt Lake City. One morning I was reporting the traffic and news when I received a phone call from the Utah highway Patrol and Metro traffic watch regarding a School bus that had been hijacked at gunpoint. The Driver was wearing a cowboy hat and pulled a gun on the bus driver. Justin Allgood was a 15-year-old boy who dressed as a cowboy for his school dress up day. Instead of a popgun, he packed a real gun. He released the students, and took off on a joy ride, that landed him in the living room of a house near an elementary school. Justin waited inside the bus. Then he turned the gun on himself. As this story unfolded, people were calling the station saying that Justin was a good kid. They could not figure out what may have triggered this.

About the same time, I had heard of a man named Andrew Vachss. Vachss is an author and lawyer but above all he is an example. I had heard that he was a crusader for child protection rights. That he had worked with children who had done terrible things. He also worked with Children who had terrible things done to them. He also fought the battles for these children, who had no one to dry their tears when they had cried for help. Andrew Vachss is a true warrior. He is a man that fights for children. I had a chance to meet Mr. Vachss and never in my life have seen someone so rough around the edges but so sure of who he is fighting for our future. Our future is our progeny. Being in the position that I was, at the time I did not have the opportunity to interview Andrew. But through his example, and a lot of his writing and encouragement. I have championed the cause against Child Sex Tourism.

I have also watched in horror as children have become exploited and treated as property. That people will scream foul when an animal is abused or put in a County fair. But when a child is paraded around like an animal for sexual gratification or Vanity, we tend to ignore it. I have noticed that money can buy silence. Such is in the case of Jeane Benet Ramsey who is still very dead, her killer very silent, and the evidence still very inconclusive.

A year ago, I warned that if we did not do anything to protect children, whether they be in Thailand or elsewhere, that the predatory and alien behavior would bubble up into this country, even in my home state of Utah, that we would be hearing of more sexual attacks against our kids and women.

A year has passed and we already had stalkers preying on Children at the elementary schools. So many attacks were happening here in Utah that parents were in fear and wondering what to do. Many turned to their Church leaders. Meanwhile, Church leaders like Jerry Pond, were Jailed for forcible sodomy of a minor. People turned to lawmakers. Lawmakers didn't listen. In Utah the "family state" Leonard Blackham led the cause for the deregulation of in home daycare.

This loosened background checks for day care providers. This Representative, a turkey farmer from Moroni compared raising children to raising turkeys. While a budget analyst for the Utah Legislature

Jere M. Winslow had between 3,000 and 4,000 photos of little boys, seized from his office all focusing on their genitals. Utah's Eagle Forum a conservative group that for some reason has power over the legislature was busy pushing its so-called ``pro-family'' initiatives. The group is led by President Gayle Ruzicka, who also helped stall the debate about the state's child-welfare law.

The law was intended to bring the child-welfare code in line with the Utah 's criminal code in its treatment of adults who hit a spouse in front of a child. Letters from the conservative group urged lawmakers to strike references to domestic violence from the bill. Conservative Sen. Craig Taylor who has said that he has a "calling to protect family values" in Utah, brought the group's message, telling his colleagues the bill would give too much power to the Division of Child and Family Services to remove a child from the home.

Ruzicka using her dime store brilliance said domestic violence doesn't equate to child abuse. The bill finally passed, but the references to domestic violence were left out. While Attorney General Jan Graham accused Governor Mike Leavitt of keeping under wraps a domestic violence study we heard a recording on the news of a child crying during a 911 call and soon after that we heard the recording of a nurse beating an elderly woman. We closed our eyes, not to pray for the women and children. But to allow our women and children to become prey.

Are you angry yet? My home state of Utah is not the only place where we are planting the perverted orchard of damaged lives.

These acts of violent abuse are the seeds. The trees that grow from these seeds bare bitter fruit. The harvest gives us the burning of churches by hate groups in the south.

Shake the tree and you get Luke Woodham, 16, who after stabbing his mother to death, arrived at Pearl High School and opened fire, killing two students and wounding seven. When asked why he did it he replied the world has wronged me. I can see why a 16-year-old would say this.

Michael Carneal 14, West Paducah Kentucky started shooting one day, killing three students and wounding five saying he was tired of being bullied and warned his councilor he was going to do something about it. Parents site satanic influences and perhaps cult activity. Not realizing that he was screaming for help.

As Jonesboro Arkansas buries their dead from two young boys planning an ambush we ask ourselves why? The knee jerk solutions are just as specious.

People blame the media. Beavis and Butthead, Marilyn Manson, the Basketball Diaries. The blame is thrown around like a dirty T-shirt because no one wants to take responsibility for their child's actions, or the way we treat our children.

Why don't we take a look at ourselves. When will we find it important to protect our children? I find it ironic, that so much has taken place and that it seems that we don't take seriously, the rapists, the molesters the bullies, the manipulators and the stalkers. The children's cries for help, do you see the ugliness bubbling into your neighborhood? Is the beast real? Do monsters exist? You bet they do. They are predators who smell the blood of their victims. They want ultimate power. Anything helpless will be taken down. In some cases victims are ripped apart piece by piece, in others they are utterly pulverized. In some cases the survivors envy the dead.

Then there are the innocent bystanders with their equally horrific solutions. "If a Child Kills, then that Child should be put to death." "If a child acts like an adult then he should be tried as an adult." They too are murderers in their hearts. These opinionated vengeful adults are the same ones who hold life so dear in the womb but can still throw life away like a spoiled piece of meat. Their argument in my opinion is not consistent.

A gleaming example of this is the Mary Kay LeTourneau case. A 14-year-old boy impregnates his 36-year-old teacher. This boy is not an adult. But he did an adult act right? The woman goes to jail because she raped the "little boy". The mother of the 14-year-old boy who fathered a child with his former teacher said she's angrier with her son than the teacher. Meanwhile the two boys in Arkansas who shot their classmates are to be considered Adults yet they were much younger than the 14-year-old. Are children, children? Or are they adults?

I know this may sound simplistic but they are Children. Children try to act like adults, but they get it all wrong. Adults are supposed to help Children understand their limitations. So we are to learn that both the 14 year old and Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Drew Golden, 11 did acts that adults do but they are kids.

Each child, in this case, were victims of adults, who neglected their responsibilities. In the case of the 14-year-old it was the teacher who should teach him, not sleep with him. The mother should have concern and realize that something is wrong at home.

The two boys from Jonesboro obviously had parents that did not supervise them and teach them values. Eventually we will probably see the dark figure, the beast once again rearing it's head. The beast known as abuse. What does the U.S. government do about it? In some places, no child is too young to be charged as an adult for certain crimes. And federal law allows adult trials for defendants as young as 13. This idea sets us back a whopping 100 years before the juvenile justice system existed, where miscreants of any age were treated the same. All states have some provision for adult prosecution of people as young as 14. In Indiana, South Dakota and Vermont, it's 10. About 20 states have no bottom age for some crimes, typically violent ones such as murder and rape. Youngsters tried as adults, face the same penalties as adults, though states will not impose the death penalty on young people convicted of capital crimes. The U.S. Supreme Court also has balked at executing anyone under 14. Here is one last thought in closing. I can't stop thinking about how much I would cry out loud if my son committed an act of murder at a young age. He is the product of a broken home. The victim of a divorce. Imagine it happening to you. They decide to execute your son, and before the last chime of the bell ceases to vibrate and the injection is made that would drain the life of your baby away, he sings "Jesus loves me this I know for the bi…

"Suffer the little children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of God". I learned that in Sunday School, that even though my heart has grown colder and my religious beliefs are becoming as grey as the skin of a dying man, I still see that as wisdom, even more so than an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

I'm afraid that we quote the latter more often in these times of so called family values.


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