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Violence, Drugs, and Our Children
Puttering Away on His 3DS
Violence and Your Children
One time, I was watching Shep Smith's show on Fox News as he was following the story of a car chase in I think California. At one point, the car pulls over and the driver runs down this path on the side of the road. While watching this unfold, you can hear Shep Smith yelling at his producers to cut to commercial since for whatever reason, they weren't on a delay like usual. It was then I yelled to my oldest son to cover his eyes because I sensed what Shep feared. Sure enough, the driver pulled out a gun and killed himself right before my eyes, and everyone else watching the show that day. Immediately after, they went to a commercial. When they came back, Shep looked angry and apologized profusely for what had just unfolded before our eyes.
When the Boston Bombing happened, I immediately ran downstairs to where my son was playing and watching television and I saw his face as he was staring at the screen. This was the same look he had when he saw the Newtown school shooting occurred. I didn't like that I had to inform my child that this world isn't as safe as we would like. I didn't want to burst his bubble of innocence. I had to be, because if I wouldn't discuss it with him who would? It wasn't the school's job to discuss it, and it might not be discussed with the amount of parents that do want to sweep these horrible stories under the rug and allow their children to live in a world of oblivion.
All over the news we see violence and people rationalizing violence by blaming music, the media or videogames. I don't believe the media or music or videogames create violent people. I let my child play most videogames and they can be quite violent, but my child is the type of child that steps around bugs on the ground because "they didn't do anything wrong, it wouldn't be right to step on them". My son doesn't have a violent bone in his body and he does spend time playing "soldier" or playing shooting games online though he does mostly favor killing zombies. "I'm practicing for the Zombie Apocalypse". I don't think violent videogames desensitize people or create murderers. I think they might perpetuate already evil people who might already do evil things. I think evil people are just evil people. Evil people will do evil things no matter what.
If people want to discuss violence, the news is sometimes more violent than television shows or movies. When the chemical attack in Syria happened, all over the news you can see the corpses of children lined up. When the luger died in the 2010 winter Olympics on live television, we watched it in horror. As if that wasn't enough, for the next hour they replayed the accident. Our children aren't just being subjected to violence in entertainment, they are being forced to watch it when they are supposed to be learning about current events on television. If you want to ban all things violent, maybe we should start right there with the news.
There are things we can do to limit their exposure. I don't allow my child to watch or play whatever he wants. Children need boundaries. I monitor what he watches, and myself or my husband plays a game through or reads all about a videogame before we allow it. IMDB.com has a "Parental Guide" section, that sorts out anything questionable so you can make an informed decision on what you allow your children to watch. After watching something, I usually talk to him and ask him if there's anything he wanted to know about what he watched, because it's important to communicate with your children. It's also your job as a parent to censor the television, not the media. If you're not paying enough attention to your child to know what they are watching or playing, that's on you. Also know, you can't protect them from everything they see on the news or in real life. But you can prepare them by having an open discussion with them.
The Little Army Man
Talking about Drugs
If there's anything that goes along with violence, it's drugs. Drugs are often glorified by music and television. We want to deny this one fact, but we should know better from our own childhood: they will end up in situations where they will come across drugs, alcohol or smoking. Like with everything else, preparing our child for these scenarios will help them out in life. http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/talking_with_kids/ is a fantastic website for helping you out. I will share their ideas and some of my own to help prepare your child.
- Choice. According to the website, they tell us that we need to provide our children with the ability to make their own choices. This helps them become confident in making their own decisions to help them when they are faced with peer pressure. Confidence in their individuality is the key to counteract peer pressure.
- Remember how old your child is. Like any other time, you need to provide children with information they can understand. You also should never give information that they didn't really ask for. Keep it short, and to the point and answer any questions with the best information that you can.
- Practice what you preach. I've said this many times here, but you need to set the moral standard for your children by acting the way you expect them to act. In my house, for instance, I do enjoy having a glass of wine now and again. I don't drink in front of my children, and if I do have a drink in front of him I explain that having a glass of wine at the end of the day when you're of legal age and with moderation, it's acceptable. I also take that opportunity to inform him that drinking and driving is never okay, and he should never get into the car with anyone who had anything to drink. I also don't smoke, and rarely use medications at all, let alone drugs, because I know it isn't good for me. And the added bonus is being a good example of expectations for my children. I also decided to tell him that if he did drive himself to a party and he decided to drink, that we would be there to pick him up if he called us with no judgement until the morning. I'd rather him call us for a ride than be too scared to and risk his life or the lives of others.
- Self-esteem. Studies show that people with low self-esteem are more likely to abuse drugs. Helping our children develop a strong sense of self and promoting their self-esteem seems like an easy fix to prevent our children from falling victim to peer pressure. Encourage your child for their good behaviors. Help their confidence. (See above about confidence.)