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General Health : Other News Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Does Teaching Kids to Hunt Make Them Violent?
By Martha Rosenberg
Mar 24, 2009 - 2:12:25 PM

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March was a bloody month for the gun lobby starting with the Alabama, Illinois church and Germany shootings and ended with the Oakland police killings this week.


And that's before the Miami mass killings, the Turlock, California church shootings and the Mexico shootings--also in March--which the public has largely ignored.


Not only was it   no time to "militarize" new segments of society by passing the right to carry a weapon in church, on college campuses or in state parks--lawmakers were asking hard questions.


Should   the right to defend yourself and your family include military style weapons? Assault rifles? Arsenals?


Are lax US gun laws and loopholes fueling the bloodbath in Mexico?


And does teaching children to hunt make them violent?


Michael McLendon, the Alabama shooter who killed his mother, grandmother, uncle, two cousins and the wife and toddler daughter of a sheriff's deputy in Samson in March--also killing his mother's dogs and setting the house on fire--is a case in point.


McLendon, who had a cache of an M-16, an AK-47, a shotgun, two pistols and a "great amount of ammunition," started hunting when he was 11-years-old.


Illinois shooter Terry Sedlacek who killed a pastor through the Bible he held at a church service in Maryville in March was also a hunting enthusiast who probably started young.


Law makers might not be asking the question if it weren't for Jordan Brown of Wampum, Pennsylvania. The 11-year-old shot and killed his father's pregnant fiancée, Benzie Houk, in February with a 20-gauge shotgun his dad had given him for Christmas.


Police reports describe the family as "hunting enthusiasts" who encouraged the 11-year-old to participate in bloodsports including Houk, his stepmother-to-be and eventual victim.


The incident came just a year after an eight-year-old St. Johns, Arizona boy-- now nine--shot and killed his father, Vincent Romero, and his father's friend, Timothy Romans, with a .22-caliber rifle.


Romera also taught his son to hunt, showing and encouraging the little boy to kill prairie dogs according to the Very Rev. John Paul Sauter of St. Johns Catholic Church. Nor did the eight-year-old have trouble reloading after each shot when he killed the two adults.


Hunting teaches children to sever their natural empathy and connection with other living things, say child development experts. It teaches them it is okay to harm something which is not harming or bothering them and acclimates them to witnessing--never mind causing--the bleeding, agony and vocalizations that accompany death.


So many sadistic killers begin with sadistic treatment of animals, criminologists and law enforcement experts consider it a behavioral predictor.


Like many states, Pennsylvania and Arizona have National Rifle Association backed "mentored youth hunting programs" that encourage children under 12 to hunt with adults. While less than ten percent of the US population   hunts--a number that is falling every day--zealots push child hunting to keep the sport from dying out and revenue coming to state departments of natural resources in the form of hunting licenses.


In some states children are encouraged to shoot tame pheasants the state has hatched and grown at taxpayer expense. Video of the sure shots from birds that can hardly fly and, in some cases, hardly see--they're fitted with blinding devices to keep them from pecking in packed pens--is banned. In other states, children are encouraged to raise day old pheasant chicks like pets for others to hunt.


Child hunters like Jordan Brown and young Romero are told it is good, clean family fun.


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