Teacher Perspective: Kids and Violence
Written by: Heidi Hule
Kids and violence—no matter what I say here, I’m going to make somebody mad. Another person will think I’m exaggerating, and yet another will think I’m just drawing my own conclusions. So let me just say, if you don’t believe me, Google it. There’s been enough research to prove my point over and over again, so just look it up. In this day and age, it only takes a second to verify something. Type in “kids and violence”. Believe me, you won’t like what you find.
Why this preface to my blog? Because now I’m going to tell you what I see and hear every day, and it may make you as sad and angry as it makes me. To be honest, I hope it does. Because with frustration comes change. Only when we become aware of a problem can we start to find solutions.
Well, if you’re still reading, thank you. An open mind is a beautiful thing.
Violence permeates our lives, this is true. But what’s also true is that, most of the time, we let that happen.
We let that happen by the choices we make—not only by what we watch on TV, listen to on the radio, or read online. But also by what we choose to focus on in our daily life.
Yes, we need to know what’s going on in the world around us. I’m not suggesting you become a hermit. I’m suggesting you evaluate how much violence you allow to enter your life on a daily basis—how many conversations about the latest tragedy, most often containing details none of us should know?
Don’t get me wrong here. As an adult living in a free country, you should be able to ingest whatever you want and talk about it all day if you like. But in my opinion, as a parent, all of that changes.
As a parent, you are responsible (at least partially) for the amount of violence you let into your child’s life. Yes, you. It’s part of what you signed up for.
So here are some of the typical excuses, that come in ever so handy when we want to explain why this warning actually doesn’t pertain to “us”:
“Oh, the kids aren’t listening. They’re watching their own show.” I would even bet against you on this one.
“They’re too young to understand.” I’ll give you that one, if your child is under the age of two.
“We don’t want them to be sheltered.” Do you even believe this one yourself?
“Sadly, it’s part of the world we live in. They’ll be fine.” Is that how you were raised? If kids were being sold into sex trafficking when we were growing up, do you think our parents would have let us watch that on the news back then?
Our country is in a sad state right now, that’s for sure. Everywhere you turn, there’s one horrific thing after another. While the adults argue about whose fault it is and how to fix it, the children are left with images and descriptions of things so violent they can’t even fathom in their little heads. And the point is—they shouldn’t have to fathom them.
If they ask you a question about a news event, by all means, answer them straight up. But, make sure your answer is appropriate to their age. And don’t give them any more details than they have already heard. Include a reassuring statement like, “Sometimes bad things happen. But that’s for us adults to take care of. You are safe and don’t need to worry.”
Children are innocent beings. They want to run and play tag. They want to write stories about ponies. They want to imagine a dream life in their Barbie dollhouse. Please let them.
Turn off the violence, whether it be from the real world, or in movies and video games (you can imagine what I have to say about those). Help make their world a place where none of that is allowed. We do that in our classrooms, it’s not that hard. Your child is only a child for a very short time, believe me—it’s up to you to make every minute count.