Violence, The media, our Children, and Blame
I find our societies drive to search out 'scape goats for the problems we face within and without our self's to be increasingly disturbing particularly when it comes to the frightening increase in violent crimes committed by children. I keep hearing how the experts are saying that the cause is the violence in our media. The violence that has been within nearly all forms of human entertainment since the dawn of time in one for or another. It has not in any way increased since the first humans suddenly found that they had time left over from the days struggles to survive. It has changed. Are there fewer shots fired in an old action move or fewer crashes? No, there is simply less blood. Fewer signs that the violence had any effect. Personally I would think that seeing someone bend over like there injury is nothing worse then a stomach each and collapse as if they were fainting upon getting shot to be more 'desensitizing' then seeing blood seep from the bullet wound. When a child fails to see that there is a real repercussion from the action they are less likely to feel shock at it. The simple fact that we do feel a certain amount of shock when seeing the fake death on the screen watching modern moves that we don't experience when we watch older moves when the same things happen is demonstrative that the moves are doing a better job of showing the real repercussions of the violence.
However that is not even coming close to addressing the problem, its most probable causes and the stupidity of placing the blame on a type of media. When experts claim that children are being desensitized they are implying that the children were sensitive to the violence and its repercussions to begin with. I think anyone who has ever raised children can tell you that this is defiantly not the case. The most violent children are toddlers. From the moment a child has compliant control of there arms and legs that child will Hit, Bite, Scratch, Punch, Kick, Push, Shove and pull hair. This is violence. Ahh, you say, A toddler does not know any better! Even the experts will throw this fact out. Ironically by admitting that a toddler does not know better then to be violent you are admitting that they are not sensitive to violence. They are not born sensitized against violence and being violent. They must be taught by there parents that such behavior is wrong. Over 90% of Teens that are involved in violent crimes have a history of violence that goes back threw out there lives to some of their earliest years in grade school. The fact that they have been violent for so long indicates not that what they are seeing on television and at the theater has corrupted them but that there Parents have failed to teach them that violence is wrong. The problem is not that children have been desensitized but rather that they were never sensitized to begin with.
To further illustrate my point. There have yet to be any studies that demonstrate that violent children typically see more violent movies and television programs then non-violent children. Yet there have been studies that show that neglected children, abused children as well as children that are subjected to long periods of day care starting at an early age are more prone to violent behavior. It certainly doesn't take a rocket scientist or ever a high school degree to understand why the first two circumstances produce an increase in violence among children. They simply cease to see any point. If nothing you do elicits a response from your most important disciplinarians, your guardians, then one will accelerate ones actions to get the attention that one needs, even in a negative form. If you are severely punished even when you have done nothing then one tends to develop the belief that you should at lest deserve it. Better to get smashed up for causing harm then for just being convenient. It is the later that often confuses people. The truth is, however, that the people who work at day care centers are not in a strong position to discipline anyone. They are there to keep the child from coming to harm, not to teach them to not cause harm. Parents who don't see there children much are often less apt to discipline the child severely if at all as they want the time they do spend with there children to be happy time.
The children who are the lest apt to become violent are the ones who have a constant care giver at home all the time, regardless of whether that care giver is mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, an aunt or uncle or even a hired nanny. As long as it is the same someone(s) they can count on to be available at any time. As long as they know that if someone calls there home the phone will be answered. As long as they know that if they do something wrong and get caught they will be punished, and punished needs to mean more then sending them to there room if they have a TV, computer, Video games and a telephone in it. Would you have felt the bite of being punished if you were sent into a room with that stuff in it?
Additionally, I can remember people in the 1970's and 1980's claiming that watching horror movies would turn children into serial killers. The earlier they started watching the worse they were likely to be. The more they saw the worse they were likely to be. I can assure you with a great deal of certainly that this theory is also bunkus. There have been no comparative studies to show that people who watch horror are more apt to be murderers just that a large portion of murderers watch horror moves. I watch Horror moves, all the time. Horror movies have never caused me to have horrific nightmares. The first move I can remember watching was Vincent Price in Edgar Allan POE, The Masquerade of the Red Death. I was three. I've been hooked ever since. I must be a horrifically dangerous person, a virtual time bomb waiting to go off if there is any truth these pop theories. Yet, I have never committed a crime in my life. I did not drink when underage, I don't drink much now. Don't steal. Have never caused serious harm to another person (my chickens if they don't lay eggs are another story). I am not psychotic personally, Though I do occasionally role-play some fairly psycho PC's.