Is My Child Involved in the Occult/Satanism?

Beware the Hysteric Claims Linking Teens and the Occult and Satanism

First off, if you are asking yourself “Is My Child Involved in the Occult/Satanism?” the answer is probably “no.” Some of the reasons you shouldn't be concerned include the following:

  1. Occult practices are generally fairly complex. They aren't something one casually studies
  2. These things aren't the virgin-sacrificing, demon-summoning practices that Hollywood has led you to believe.
  3. Satanism you are probably fearing pretty much doesn't exist.

    Unfortunately, there are a variety of writers who have decided that the occult and Satanism are major forces in the world today and that they are tempting all of our teenagers all of the time. Some even put out lists of “warning signs” that your teen is involved. For example, ​CbcMinway.org (offsite link) gives the following:

    WARNING SIGNS OF DRUG OR OCCULTIC INVOLVEMENT

    1. Loss of interest in normal or family activities
    2. Drawings depicting mutilations, monsters, or violent symbols
    3. Recurring nightmares and difficulty sleeping
    4. Change in eating habits, gaunt appearance
    5. Writings concerning death, dying, or morbid themes
    6. Failing grades and/or distinct changes in study habits
    7. An unusual interest in horror films
    8. An unusual interest in music with violent/death/suicide themes,
    9. Suicidal talk
    10. Distinct change in personal appearance and/or hygiene especially dark clothes or makeup, hair style changes, dressing seductively
    1. Excessive interest in fantasy role-playing games
    2. Hearing voices, paranoia, fears
    3. Belief or particular interest in psychic powers
    4. Preoccupation with violent thoughts
    5. Change in reading materials, interest in the occult, rituals
    6. Writing backward, writing mysteriously
    7. Development of an attitude of extreme secrecy
    1. Aggression toward family, teachers, and authority figures
    2. Contempt for traditional religion, anti-God
    3. Harming animals – Abrupt change in friends
    4. An unusual interest in weaponry.

    Drugs are Not Occult

    First, note that this is a list of “drug or occultic involvement.” Drugs and occult practices – even the Hollywood version of occult practices – have nothing to do with each other. If your child has a drug problem, he needs rehab, not exorcism.

    Standard Teenage Behavior

    Most of these points simply indicate your teenager is, in fact, a teenager. Teenagers rebel. They don't listen to adults. They push boundaries. They dress weird. If they have stopped paying attention to their grades, might it simply be they are spending too much time playing sports or excessively using that new driver's license or hanging out with the new boyfriend or girlfriend? This list is fearmongering, suggesting extraordinary explanations for common behavior.

    Mental Health Issues

    Most of the rest of the things on this list have more to do with mental health. If your child is hearing voices, talking about suicide, or torturing animals, they need a doctor, not a lecture about Satanic influences. They are sick. There are dangerous things going on in their brains, things that have absolutely nothing to do with the occult or Satanism.

    That is nothing short of demonizing mental illness.

    Vague Warnings

    A few are so vague as to be useless. “An unusual interest in weaponry.” What counts as unusual? And how does weaponry indicate the occult? (Or drugs, in the case of this particular list.) If your child is obsessive about something, that can be problematic in and of itself, but it certainly doesn't require the occult.

    Very few teens can escape the scrutiny of lists such as this unscathed. If you're worried about your teen, and you stumble upon one of these sites, you almost assuredly will find your child hits a larger number of these “warning signs.” But they aren't warning signs. They are fear-mongering written by people who generally don't appear to actually have any knowledge of the real occult or Satanic beliefs and practices, but who encourage the common but completely debunked stereotypes such as Satanic Ritual Abuse, which is a myth.

    For example, CDCMidway will tell you that 1% of children actively experiment with Satanism:

    “Part of their rituals may involve cutting their body to obtain blood to drink during a ceremony. They may kill animals as a sacrifice. Some have been known to commit acts of homicide.”

    Consider the total numbers if 1% of children were really doing this. It just doesn't add up. And before you start fearing the possibility of a Satanic-fueled teenage homicide in your neighborhood, consider the last time you have ever heard of an actual case of such a thing happening. You probably can't.