Extreme_Evil: Kids_Killing_Kids
by Bob Larson
©1999 by Bob Larson Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Reviewed by Martin Green

Bob Larson approached his publisher about writing this book a year before the Columbine killings had ever happened. Much of what he wanted to write about was in response to the then recent wave of school shootings at the hands of kids as young as eleven. His publisher told him that the time was not yet right. Once Columbine happened, there was no choice left, but to write the book.
The first anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, has just passed, and people are still asking the questions: Why did it happen, and will it happen again? Bob Larson in his book, Extreme Evil: Kids Killing Kids, answers these questions and exposes the truth behind the extreme evil that has been unleashed among our nation’s youth in the last few years. In fact, Larson says in response to the question, “WHY?”, in bold print on the cover of the May 3, 1999, special edition of Newsweek:“The answer is easy, if we want to know it. If you don’t know the answer, you’ll find it in this book. But you’ll find more. I intend to point fingers. I’ll assign blame. I’ll tell you exactly why this happened and who is responsible. And I’ll go beyond that. I’ll shame those who have silently profited over the dead bodies of our children.”

The book is divided into three parts: Part One: Extreme Evil, chronicles the details and backgrounds of the last nineteen, yes, nineteen, school shootings and describes the common denominators among the killers.One third of the killers were taking prescription, mind-altering drugs, and more than half of them were recreational drug users. None excelled academically, none was popular in mainstream campus culture, and none had a circle of morally and socially stable friends…They were put down, put upon, teased, and bullied. Most importantly, there doesn’t seem to be a single instance in which any of them was deeply spiritual, and none had parents who professed Christian faith as a dominant fact of family life…They didn’t have acceptance. They weren’t well-liked, and no one seemed to sense their deep feeling of isolation and identity crisis. They weren’t connected to other family or community members.

Part Two: Why Kids Kill Kids, offers reasons for the increase in the savagery and frequency of violence among our youth. Have you ever heard of “first-person-shooter” games? These are computer video games, with names like Doom and Grand Theft Auto, actually used by the United States military and various law enforcement agencies, that simulate real situations in which the player is taught how to shoot enemies as fast and as ruthlessly as possible. To increase the intensity and accuracy with which opponents are eliminated, the would-be “killers” are rewarded by the game in proportion to the amount of gore and carnage they can wreak.
To understand the allure and power of these games over impressionable young kids, Larson decided that he had to take a hands-on approach and play the game himself:“To survive,” I was instructed, all I needed was a ‘killer instinct.’
So, on with the game. For the next few minutes, I was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. All that I was missing was the adaptation these kid killers had made to the games by modifying them into actual facsimiles of Columbine High School.
What struck me immediately was how quickly I got going. Within minutes of loading the software, I was firing away. It was challenging and mesmerizing—a virtual-reality world of mayhem and murder that tugged at the emotions and drew me in deeper. I could easily envision a kid needing to quit to do homework or something else, and find it difficult to arrest the allure of going on with the game. I was oblivious to the passing of time. The craving set in. I’ll beat this thing. Just a little closer. Pow! Got him! Next?

With every turn, down every hallway, I encountered new obstacles…The instructions assured me I’d get away with ‘some lead upside their head.’ I blasted away as fast as I could. The first thing I noticed was how close I had to get to my victim…The battle wasn’t easy. No wonder kid killers spend so many hours playing these games…No question in my mind. I was entering the world of their murderous tutor.”

Strong stuff. But Larson, who has devoted his life to reaching and setting free those who are in demonic bondage and has been particularly effective at communicating with and reaching young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, never sugarcoats the fact that we have an enemy who does not play fair in his desire to steal, kill, and destroy. He has always believed in boldly exposing and confronting the devil in order to set the captives free. And so, to place blame where it is due, the graphic truth of the unprecedented barrage by the forces of darkness against our nation’s youth must be exposed. Larson even offers a list, for the sake of arguing with a person who defends first-person shooter games, with five reasons of what is truly dangerous about them.

Then there are the movies, like The Matrix, Natural Born Killers, and The Basketball Diaries that glorify themes and scenes of gratuitous murder and revenge, often at the hands of disenfranchised high school kids. In fact, says Larson, some of the kid killers even got some of their idea—like trench coats and rigging high schools with explosives—from these movies. Even Oliver Stone, who directed Natural Born Killers, proclaimed to the adoring media after the screening of the movie, “The movie is great. It makes you want to go out and kill somebody.”

Larson pulls no punches in affixing blame to the video game makers and the Hollywood producers who “continue to insist that there is no evidence to prove a causal relationship between fictional violence and real kid killers.” But Larson declares that:“Only the most profane and indifferent—and greedy—among us can continue to argue that life in modern society doesn’t imitate art. We have the body count in the classroom corridors and a long litany of school shootings to prove it. What we lack is the will as a people to loudly declare that…parent{s} who {let} their child view violent movies and play violent video games {are} committing child abuse.”

Then there is the role of satanism and the occult, as well as satanically influenced rock groups. Fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal of Paducah, Kentucky, sixteen-year-old Luke Woodham of Pearl, Mississippi, Harris and Klebold of Littleton, Colorado, and eighth-grader Andrew Wurst of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, all had satanic connections. Not surprisingly, the majority of their victims were outspoken Christians. Based on interviews with students who survived the carnage at Columbine, the cold-blooded ferocity of the killers was unmistakably satanically inspired:“The savagery of it all. The calculated way it was carried out. The remorselessness and glee the killers expressed. It appears to have the touch of extreme evil.

It’s no accident that kids in our schools today are involved in satanism. Unfortunately educators have forced Christians out, citing the separation of church and state. At the same time they have allowed satanists and other cult members into the schools.…The facts are simple. Jesus Christ is no longer welcome in our schools, but witchcraft and satanism are, with the legal sanction of our government. And the students who want to pursue the occult can’t find a Bible in the school library, but they can find books on witchcraft.

It’s about time that educators and the media admit what the devil is doing in our schools. So far only Christians seem to be willing to discuss the issue…If any good is to come out of Columbine, it will be because we, as a nation, have finally admitted to what the devil is doing, a perspective we must never lose if we are to keep our children safe.”

Completing this second section on why kids kill kids, Larson devotes its last chapter to the one factor that sows perhaps the worst seeds of all and opens the door wide for extreme evil to engulf a child’s heart: revenge.“Today’s millennium murderers aren’t adult malcontents; they’re the kid next door, the waiter at the pizza place, the student in the computer class. They mask their rage cleverly. The tickers on their time bombs are set, but the fuse seems so far from being lit that they almost go unnoticed. But when they do kill, they display a ferociousness and yet a remarkable composure. They aren’t just killing for a thrill—they are killing for revenge.”

Larson then goes on to describe in detail the three steps leading to revenge in a child’s life and the demonic ramifications of extreme evil that then ultimately find expression if allowed to remain unresolved.

The last section: Part Three: Solutions for the Savagery, offers practical ways that parents can get involved and intervene in the lives of their children so that these tragedies will not be repeated. Larson cautions us that before we pass judgment on the parents of kid killers, we should ask ourselves, “How well do we really know our children?” He then gives a list of six warning signs which indicate that a child might be in trouble. Next, he gives a list called “Ten Things You Should Know About Your Child’s Friends.” Larson insists that as parents we must be proactive in caring for children, and says that we cannot over estimate the importance of parental involvement in our childrens’ lives.“Parents, not the government, must inoculate their offspring from the destructive effects of popular culture. Leaving children unsupervised for extended periods of time and allowing them to spend hours on the Internet without knowing what sites they visit is an abdication of a parent’s responsibility. Above all, we have to get back to the idea that parents are obligated to correct the behavior of their children and guide them in a world that’s determined to lead them astray.”

Despite the graphic intensity of this book, it is at the same time very practical and offers us real solutions to extreme evil. As you’ve probably already discovered, this book is loaded with lists. There is yet another one: “Seven Ways to Protect Your Neighborhood, School, and Family.”

The last chapter entitled, “It’s a God Thing,” offers a bright ray of redemptive hope. As borne out through the scriptures and in history, the words spoken by Joseph thousands of years ago hold true today: And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. Genesis 50:20

Only the power of the gospel can bring redemption to situations as horrible as we have witnessed at Columbine and other high schools in our country. Only the transforming love of Jesus Christ can offer hope in the midst of an unprecedented time of gross darkness. In the final pages of the book, the courageous testimonies of both those who died and those who survived, point us back to the truth. The parents of John Tomlin, who was a Christian, faced the national media in the days following the tragedy at Columbine and declared,“‘We have hope because of Jesus Christ.’ Hardened news anchors wept. It’s a God thing.’”

This is a sobering book because it makes us take a hard look at the forces of extreme evil that are working tirelessly to destroy our children. But it is also a practical book because it offers concrete solutions for preventing the same kinds of tragedies we have seen played out with increasing frequency of late. Finally, it is a book full of hope because it tells us that because of the triumph of the extreme love offered to us through Jesus Christ, we can make a difference. Rachel Scott, one of the students killed at Columbine and a lover of Jesus, wrote in her diary only four days before she died:“God, use me. God, fill my life with passion. God, fill my life with purpose. God, let me reach the unreached.”

Then Larson writes,“It’s a God thing. Now it’s our thing. We must make the world see God’s love for every creature, especially the Eric Harrises and Dylan Klebolds among us. Politicians won’t do it. Teachers won’t do it. Hollywood refuses to do it. You and I must point them to the Lamb.”