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Handbook Weighs Heavy Metal For Parents

August 22, 1986|RANDY LEWIS | Times Staff Writer

Don't know a skinhead from a headbanger? Can't tell the difference between Black Flag and Black Sabbath?

For adults who are simply curious or seriously concerned about teen-agers who listen to pop music's most controversial fringe groups, an Orange County organization has published "The Punk Rock and Heavy Metal Handbook."

In the 30-page pamphlet, the Back in Control Training Center of Orange has attempted, with varying degrees of accuracy, to define for the layman punk rock and heavy metal music and explain the terminology, philosophies and fashions of punk and heavy metal.

"The Punk Rock and Heavy Metal Handbook" (available by mail for $5 from Back in Control, 1234 W. Chapman Ave., Suite 203, Orange, CA, 92668) was written by Darlyne Pettinicchio, a former juvenile probation officer who is now an adult probation officer for the County of Orange.

Pettinicchio and her partner, Greg Bodenhammer, a former Orange County probation officer, started the Back in Control Center as an outgrowth of their probation work in helping parents handle adolescents with serious behavioral problems. They have operated the center privately since 1980.

The booklet is aimed at "parents, teachers, school counselors, police and probation officers, social workers--anyone dealing with kids," Pettinicchio said in a recent interview. "This book can help parents understand the thoughts, beliefs and value systems behind punk and heavy metal."

In advising parents about how to deal with controversial music and associated life styles, Pettinicchio has generated some sparks of her own with sections on "Punk Rock and Heavy Metal's Influence on the Community" and her rigid rules for "Depunking and Demetaling" in the home, schools and institutions.

For instance, the handbook states that "punk and metal oppose the traditional values of those in authority and encourage rebellious and aggressive attitudes and behavior towards parents, educators, law enforcement and religious leaders. Punk and metal generally support behaviors that are violent, immoral, illegal and frequently bizarre . . ." and generally promote drug and alcohol abuse."

But a Cal State Fullerton associate professor of criminal justice, who recently conducted a survey on the impact that rock lyrics have on youths, takes issue with some of those assertions.

"That's exactly what people said about music in the '60s and the '50s and the '30s . . . ," said Jill Rosenbaum, who is also a former juvenile probation officer. She is one of two Cal State Fullerton researchers who published results of a study into rock lyrics indicating that most teen-agers pay little attention to the words and messages of rock songs. Not coincidentally, that study was initiated last winter following a request from Pettinicchio for any information linking delinquency with punk and heavy metal music.

More than one-third of "The Punk Rock and Heavy Metal Handbook" is devoted to a "Devil-Players Glossery" (sic) and an extensive list of terms and symbols connected with satanism and occult rituals.

Some adolescent specialists, however, think the booklet overemphasizes the occult aspect of music and perhaps unjustly pinpoints music as the cause of problems that are more likely rooted in bad family situations.

Mary Anne Block, an Orange County marriage and family counselor who works primarily with children under 12, said: "There is not just one variable here. If a child is doing well, has friends, is not isolated, has a good home life, communicates with his parents then that child is not going to be as swayed by the music as those who feel that life is pretty hopeless and are into drugs."

Larry Richardson is an Orange County probation officer as well as a private marriage and family counselor who works with adolescents. Speaking only on his private counseling experience, Richardson said that the number of satanic-related crimes may have increased in recent years but that such crimes remain a relatively small percentage of all criminal activity.

"From my experience it (satanic crime) is much more prevalent now than in the past," Richardson said. "I used to run across one maybe every five or 10 years. Now the number I encounter can be counted on both hands."

Rosenbaum said: "I don't have a problem with what Darlyne is doing for kids who are in serious trouble. It bothers me that they don't draw a line, and I don't even think it is a fine line. Kids who are heavy into devil worship and are serious delinquents can be identified pretty easily."

The booklet draws no such lines between the majority of punk and heavy metal fans who simply enjoy the music and the small percentage who engage in destructive life styles. Nor does it delve into the difference between normal and excessive adolescent rebelliousness, other than to say, "Fortunately for most children it is a fad which is outgrown in time; but for others it becomes a way of life. . . ."

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