Reclaiming Our Children is a small, easy to read book, filled with valuable information about today's youth. In many ways, it is a frightening expose' of America’s growing cancer where children commit crimes, some very serious such as murder. This can only bring to mind the mass murders and then the suicide killing which took place at Columbine High School.
Dixon claims that our country is on the brink of losing the majority of its “youth to crime and moral/ethical decay.” The outcome: imprisonment. Immediately, what comes to mind by “imprisonment” is physical restraint in a jail or prison of some type. But physical incarceration, Dixon claims, is the end result of the spiritual and mental imprisonment that takes place early in a child’s life.
Mental imprisonment implies that a person is locked within the confines of their own way of thinking. Once this occurs, it is quite difficult to escape. It means that a victim’s mind is walled into a way of thinking which could have been otherwise. A mentally jailed individual sees his or her mindset as the way of thinking and without serious help, can never reach out to accept a more moral, ethical way of living.
The Columbine murders are an example. With a host of available weapons, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher. During their murderous melee, 24 others were injured before the two youthful killers committed suicide.
An after the fact study of these two young men and their backgrounds showed many troubling tendencies in both that had not been dealt with: one was considered a clinical psychopath, the other a very depressed man.
After reading Reclaiming Our Children, I feel Dixon would suggest that the mental instability that confined both of these youths was yet a symptom to a far more serious problem: spiritual imprisonment. A person’s spirit “is the underlying learned force that influences our way toward either positive or negative thoughts.”
Dixon states many times that all people are created in the image and likeness of God. As a result, the very earliest natural inclination as a new-born, our innermost nature, is to act God-like. What can alter that God-like nature are the influences of home, family, school, society, and government.
Reclaiming Our Children offers solutions to this downward moral spiral of today’s youth. Changes must occur in: 1) national government; 2) the entertainment industry; 3) educational systems; 4) penal systems; 5) American culture; 6) small businesses; 7) the current tax system.
I found Reclaiming Our Children a bit disturbing to read and justly so, but nevertheless I learned many lessons from it. I was unaware of how quickly the revolving door returns some people, who have committed injustices, back into society without any real preparation for a hopeful, challenging, changed life.
In a real sense, I learned that jails and prisons simply babysit prisoners until their release date. Some offer educational programs and adequate recreation, but according to Dixon, few psychologically prepare about-to-be-released inmates for the challenges and prejudice they are about to face, often for the rest of their lives.
In the case of the book's author, he admittedly picked himself up by his own bootstraps seeking — through books and education — information that would change his spiritual mindset to an extremely positive set of values that would carry him through life.
I would recommend Reclaiming Our Children to every reader; to psychologists, ministers, social workers, politicians, and wardens, because every one of us in the United States is concerned, openly or secretly, about the demoralization of our country.
We’ve shared Nixon's Watergate, Clinton’s Sex Scandal, Bush’s War, The Twin Towers, Columbine, Enron, and a host of other unforgettable moments in our lives. We've just lived through the killing spree that occurred a few days ago at a fitness center near Pittsburgh.
Yet, we forget that all involved in these unforgivable moments were at one time children — yes, children — youths who started out in the image of God. Dixon’s easy to read book might help change attitudes toward those in prison. It might give inmates a sense of hope and inspire them to change their values before returning to society. Better still, it may goad those in authority to provide needed societal changes to halt mental imprisonment before it occurs.