So devil worship is just another silly fad, is it? Though that seems to be the general impression, the sickening reality is that satanism can be extremely violent and dangerous.

Just how dangerous should be clear from this week's discovery in Mexico of the bodies of at least 12 victims of human sacrifice by a satanic cult of drug smugglers who believed the slayings would bring demonic protection to their illegal activities.Yes, satanism can be just a passing manifestation of rebellion on the part of the young and immature. But the practice gets such a strong grip on some of them that it is believed to explain some suicides by young people. Even when the practice doesn't go to such extremes, it can still involve mutilation and animal sacrifices.

So it's easy to understand why U.S. law officers were increasingly concerned about satanism long before this week's grisly discovery, including the dismembered body of an American college student, in Mexico.

The law officers have some suggestions on how parents can recognize that a teenager may be involved in satanism. A dramatic drop in school grades is one possible clue. Another is a sharp change in personality. Youngsters flirting with satanism often become disrespectful and introverted. They may decorate their rooms with candles, knives, and posters of heavy metal rock groups. Demonic themes are often expressed through writings and art work. They often write symbols on their arms and hands, and there is often significant drug use.

Though the increasing number of books and movies dealing with satanism seem to indicate increasing interest in the subject, there's nothing smart or sophisticated about the trend. Let's hope that this week's discovery in Mexico helps halt and reverse that tendency.