There is probably not a school in South Africa where Satanism does not exist, says Senior Superintendent Dr Attie Lamprecht, national head of the police unit dealing with occult-related crimes.
But parents were mostly to blame when children got involved in Satanism and the occult, he said.
"If you do not spend time with your children, someone or something else will," Lamprecht warned during SAfm Radio's discussion programme, The After Eight Debate. The topic was: "Can fanatical beliefs pose a danger to society?".
The topic was chosen in the light of the killing of a 16-year-old schoolboy, Jacques Pretorius, in Krugersdorp this week by a fellow pupil who was allegedly involved in Satanism.
Lamprecht told the debating panel that there appeared to be an increase in the incidence of Satanism in South Africa.
But this was only to be expected as more and more children - and adults as well - had access to the media giving information on such issues.
"We have a group of detectives who are in the process of exposing more and more detectives to the investigation of harmful religious practices," he said.
Lamprecht said his unit was not interested in the beliefs as such, but only in those practices related to crime. "If there is not a crime involved, there is religious freedom."
But he said that when children started to explore these issues, it could affect their behaviour.
"They start to reject everything that is moral, coming from their school and their parents. They think they are on a higher level, in a relationship with some kind of supernatural deity."
Lamprecht said that Satan, for instance, represented vengeance - as opposed to turning the other cheek. "They take this very literally, so the vengeance issue becomes very active," he said. "Let's face it, it is a religion of the flesh."
He said he knew he was treading on dangerous ground when he said Satanism was probably in all schools, but this prevalence had resulted from the free access many children have to the internet and other sources of inform-ation.
"Many parents give carte blanche access to information," he said. "There is no cyber prohibition. Children are curious and start exploring these things.
"It starts with white magic. It goes to gateway religious systems and then to destructive religions. It is pretty prevalent."
Lamprecht did not, however, draw a direct link to the Krugersdorp killing. "I won't go as far as to say it leads to that kind of violence generally."
He said he had spoken to children who had become involved with crime because of their occult beliefs. "In most cases it boils down to an emotional need."
He had also spoken to a Satanist convicted of a double murder.
"These individuals are in immense emotional and spiritual chaos," he said. "They often knew the different religions and belief systems very well, but had chosen to follow the route of Satanism."
Lamprecht spoke of how the convicted murderer, when asked if he had a message for children, said: "Listen to your mom."
It was pertinent that the murderer did not speak of the father, the authority figure, but rather of the caring mother figure.
"There is a clear message that in our families we must get back to basics. We must start loving our children and guiding them. There is absolute carte blanche in a great deal of homes, where children have no borders at all."
Satanism has often been linked to heavy-metal music. But Cliff Crabb, of the group Aggro, told the panel that it made no sense to blame a heinous crime like the one in Krugersdorp on music.
Crabb said some of the more angry artists did tell stories about the world and its problems. He said children identified with the artists and were influenced by their music. "It is a hell of a responsibility."
On the other hand, children have told him his music helped them out of suicidal situations and had changed their lives.
"I am going to sing about Aids and I am going to sing about drug abuse and the things that are happening out there," he said.
But a woman who described herself as a former "president" of the Satanists, Maureen Fazwa, said there was a definite link between the occult and heavy-metal music. She admitted she had killed for Satan. She had also drunk human blood and eaten human flesh. "I was baptised with urine and with blood."
Fazwa said she had since turned to Christianity and been saved.