In the first part of this two part series, I would like to examine the subject of TV violence and our children. There are those who say that parents need to be aware of the violence that they allow their children to see on television and many studies conducted will bare them out but like any poll taken by politicians, I say it’s all in the question that you ask. If you ask a child what their favorite television shows are, you can often watch a few segments of those shows and find some sort of violence whether it is against a person or an object. In order to guard your children from TV violence, you must be willing to ban television all together.
Below are suggestions offered by experts who say that to solve your violence problem, “set limits, remove television from children’s room, change the channel or cut off the television and contact other parents to establish similar rules”. (Unknown Author, 9/2002, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Children and TV Violence, Retrieved from www.aacap.org). While all of these may sound good they are more than a little out of the realm for most parents. Setting limits are only as good as the enforcement mechanisms used to enforce those limits. If you are a single parent and feel as though you have to work thousands of hours each day to keep your family fed, clothed and comfortable, there may not be any time to regulate those limits. You may be able to remove the television from your children’s room but if you are at work all of the time, how will you ever be able to keep them from watching television or change the channel, let alone cut off the television if something offensive comes on. Regarding being able to contact other parents, these other parents will have to be the parents of your children’s friends as well as those that he/she might met later. Many parents are willing to do whatever they can to help raise healthy, happy children but most will not cater to anyone else telling or even suggesting to them how they should run their household.
I can agree with a couple of the suggestions of “pointing out that the actions on television are performed by actors and in real life the results are quite different” as well as “stressing the idea that violence is not the answer to problems”. I agree with these experts that unless necessary steps are taken to educate our children on the violence offered by television they may “become immune or numb to the horror of violence, gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems, and imitate the violence they observe on television”, I do not consider “identifying with certain characters, victims and or victimizers as a truly bad thing”. Unknown Author, 9/2002, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Children and TV Violence, Retrieved from www.aacap.org). The reason that I do not consider “identifying with certain characters” as a totally bad thing is because growing up that may be the only solid way that we become to understand a little about ourselves. Many can be told the way that they are but being unable to see the forest for the trees is mainly due to us being too close in proximity to the issue. Seeing a part of our lives played out in front of us allows us to see ourselves in a different light. Seeing a quiet kid finally speaking up for him/herself teaches our silent child that it’s okay to speak up because that will be the only way they will be heard.
Bottom line the best educators when it comes to violence is the parent. If daddy is always yelling at mother in the home then son will soon follow suit. I know this because I have witnessed my younger children treating their mother as they have seen me treat her. Seeing this, I have and still am working on changing that aspect of their development but I need and must start with changing my own behavior first. What we teach our children by our actions or inactions affect them more than any television show so the primary responsibility of not passing on violence to our kids is ours and our alone. Talking them through a TV show is one excellent way to educate them. Making sure to limit if not eliminate the violent nature of ourselves will go a long way in helping our children to limit or eliminate theirs. We are the first and last line of defense against anything that our children will learn as they grow into adulthood. There are people out there to help but the final and ultimate sin of ignoring our responsibilities as a parent will be our burden to bear and our row to hoe.