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Occult "Problems" In School
August 14th 1999 2:04 A.M. EDT
(This article ran on the front page of the Gallatin TN News Examiner, Wed. Aug 4 issue. Any grammatical and/or spelling errors are original to the article.)
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Kids 'dabbling' in the occult, teachers told
By Joanna Pluta, Staff Writer

During a Sumner County Schools Summit on Safety, teachers raised their eyebrows at the presence of Satan worship and the occult in local schools.

"What we have is a small percentage of a generation of people looking into this type of exploration," said Grace Oliver, attendance director for Sunmer County schools. "Our job as educators is to ask why this is happening and what are we going to do about it."

Oliver was browsing in a friend's antique store when she found a decorative, antique cross. Upon inquiring about the cross, the store's owner explained that the cross was actually made of coffin nails. Some kids had previously come into the store, found the cross, and advised the owner to get rid of the cross because it had been used to kill vampires and was creating a bad energy in the store.

"What this points out to me is the (the kids) are dabbling in some sort of alternative belief system," Oliver said. "You would not believe the people you know that are into Satan worshiping."

Alters to such alternative gods involve some sort of skull of any size and any material. It will be surrounded by black, red and white candles and clothes, which are usually accompanied by contemporary music. Oliver cited Marilyn Manson, Korn, Bone Thugs 'n' Harmony and the Insane Clown Posse.

Other symbols of the Occult include inverted crosses, pentagrams inside circles and inverted pentagrams.

"It's all about sex, drugs, killing, and perverted type things," Oliver said. "Some kids are exposed to this and it doesn't bother them. Others, who have been broght up differently and are seeking attention, are attracted. We live in a society where kids are searching, trying to find a place to fit in. Some of them turn to this."

Oliver said that she found most parents weren't aware of the lyrics to groups like Marilyn Manson because they were unintelligible.

"You have to read the words to understand," she said. "Kids are desensitized to killing. Look up Satan on the Internet. You don't have enough paper to print all of it out."

Oliver predicted local teachers are most likely to come into contact with self-styled sadists, whom she calls "the dabblers." They wear black clothing, pentagrams and silver jewelry, and they disrupt class talking about their beliefs. Sadisms is, however, a recognized religion protected by the First Admendment.

"The occult is the oldest recognized religion known to man," Oliver said. "It is mysterious and hidden, and includes things like witchcraft, black and white magic, wicca, Ouija boards and devil worshiping."

Cults and the occult are most appealing to students who don't quite fit in. By changing their belief systems and practices, however, they quickly make a few close friends with whom to spend their time.

"I don't get it," Oliver said, "Are they not getting enough attention at home? Have they gotten so much of everything that they're bored?"

Because of constitutional protection and because these students are not breaking any laws, the Board of Education is not clear on how to handle where Satanism and the occult arise at school.

When such instances have come up in multiple schools, Oliver has recommended the teacher talk privately and in a non-threatening manner, and that the parents be made aware of the incident.

She had most recently made herself aware of a case in Mississippi where a group of students from an affluent neighborhood have been seen worshiping Satan and making animal sacrifices. A couple of the girls have recently become pregnant, authorities fear for the sole purpose of sacrificing the babies.

"We can't save them, we're not their parents," Oliver said of local students on the verge of getting caught up in the occult. "But we have to put up with it because it is in our schools."
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address: The News Examiner, 1 Examiner Ct., Gallatin TN 37066 Editor E-mail: Steve Rogers (also published in the newspaper for letters to the editor).

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