the problem of violence: a societal norm

According to the American Psychological Association:

By the time the average child who watches 2-4 hours of TV a day finishes elementary school they will have witnessed at least 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence.[1]

This is powerful conditioning.

url-1Studies repeatedly show that this kind of exposure can lead to aggression later in life.  Of course the debate against this argument is that, “its just good entertainment, it doesn’t change behavior!”   It just so happens that the folks who love this argument, are also the ones who produce this content.  It’s funny that they spend millions of dollars in advertising to persuade people to watch their shows.  If they are so convinced that media doesn’t have a powerful effect on behavior then they should stop advertising their content through television.

Since none of us, including me, are going to ditch our flat screen TV’s or put or Netflix accounts on hold, what do we do about this culture that we’ve created?

Here are some suggestions to create a different culture:

-Limit TV exposure in your homes.  Don’t be a Nazi about it, but something that I am grateful for now is that my mom made me read an hour if I wanted an hour of TV time.  And as a child I loved TV, so I read.

-Talk about violence that you see in your homes.  When kids get old enough they are going to start asking why people shoot up schools or beat people up.  Talk to your kids about it and allow them to ask questions.

-Model an alternative in the home.  A child will invariably ask you, “What do I do if someone hits me?”  Most parents I know say that you hit them back.  Not to say that Desiree and I have it all figured out, but other kids hit our girls all the time and what we teach them is to put a hand up and say, “stop don’t touch me.”  Obviously this works because our kids are really young.  When they’re older this may not work out so well.  We want to teach our kids to stand up for themselves but to be honest when they get a little older; I’m not really sure how we will go about doing this.

-Show your kids correct response.  So many times we respond in a way that does not fit the situation.  When you blow up at something little, guess what your kids learn the correct response is to something little?

-One of the things that studies continually show is that language builds culture.  Aggressive language usually builds an aggressive culture.  Model peaceful language at home and your kids will pick up on it.

What will you do to evaluate the culture that you have already created in your house?  What do you do to stop violence before it starts?


[1] Gushee & Stassen.  Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in a Contemporary Context. Chapter 7

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