For too many people, violence is an
ordinary way to be entertained, settle arguments, or blow off
Violence is the result of an array of
forces coming together. Recently, we have come to recognize that
exposure to violence in the media can be one of those forces. American
children spend more time each week watching TV than engaging in any
other activity except sleeping. But violence is not limited to TV; it
can be found in music, video games, newspapers, comic books,
magazines, and movies.
Exposure to violence
can result in children being less sensitive to the pain and suffering
of others, more fearful of the world around them, and more willing to
behave aggressively. Children imitate what they see. Take a look at
what your children are seeing. Remember, most media violence can be
Look at What You're
Take a hard look at
what you, your family, and friends watch on television — "action"
movies, talk shows, soaps, sitcoms, cop shows, and even news programs.
Ask the same questions about movies, videotapes, comics, and computer
and video games.
What values are they
teaching? Are the characters racist, sexist, or stereotypes? Do they
make violence appear exciting or humorous or macho? Do they solve
real-life problems without violence? Do the programs show how the
victims of violence, their families, and friends suffer? Do the
programs teach skills or convey unique, interesting information?
Look at What You're
What words or actions
trigger your anger? Maybe it's the way someone looks at you, a tone of
voice, or an action, such as pointing a finger. Once you know your
triggers, you can better control your reactions.
When you are angry,
do you use words that shame, humiliate, or intimidate? Remember that
words can hurt; they can provoke violent actions.
How do children you
know take out their anger? Do they imitate words and body language?
Are you proud of the way they handle conflict?
Look at your anger.
Talk it out, exercise it out, write it out, sing it out — but don't
take it out on anyone else. Learn how to settle disagreements without
television, radio, and movies that make violence look exciting,
humorous, or macho. Call or write to radio and television stations
and movie theaters to advise them of your decision. And thank them
when they show programming that portrays positive, nonviolent ways
of solving problems. Encourage the media to address more family
issues and show positive actions by people to improve the
local school to see if it has a mediation or conflict resolution
program. If not, help start one. You can get help from colleges,
community or neighborhood dispute resolution centers, or national
organizations that focus on dispute resolution.
When you buy
gifts for friends and family, make sure that games, music, videos,
and books don't promote violence.
Make one night a
month Family Fun Night. Why not go out to dinner, take in a
nonviolent movie, play board or card games? Play volleyball, ping
pong, or a game of catch, go to the library, read aloud, or go
through old family photos and slides? Ask your family for
Make sure your
child's school has a policy requiring parental supervision to show
R-rated, PG-13, or PG movies in any class and enforces it. Make
sure your neighborhood video store has and enforces the same
products whose advertisements glorify physical or verbal violence.
Write the manufacturer to express your concern. Check product
packages or call your local library for addresses.