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To be sure, bullying represents a serious societal issue, not only because of the harm done to young people during their vulnerable, formative years, but crucially, because it reflects a crisis in character among our youngest generation. Too many of our nation’s children don’t get that bullying - for whatever reason - is always wrong.

But we would be wise not to allow the label of “bullied outcast” to explain away what appears to be a more complicated and potentially dangerous explanation for this week’s tragedy in Ohio.

The harder yet more damning truth may be that children in this culture cannot escape the relentless messages of immorality that permeate the culture in which they live.

Despite the best efforts of parents and families, schools and communities, the media-saturated existence of our youth - filled as it is with violence and vulgarity, evil and insanity - is defining too many of our children and presenting them with horrific examples of human behavior.

As one student put it in the wake of Monday’s devastation, “It’s so hard to grasp. This is literally something you would see in a movie or video game.”

Except when it’s not.

It’s a school cafeteria on a Monday morning in Chardon, Ohio.

And it’s thousands of text messages from terrified teenagers alerting their parents - and all parents - that something is terribly wrong.

Marybeth Hicks is the author of “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” Find her on the Web at http://marybethhicks.com.