BACK OF THE BOOK – The violent media theory
By Michael Soden
By Michael Soden
I am not a doctor, child psychologist/psychiatrist or social worker and this article is based purely upon observation, media reports, research and firsthand experience as a police officer. Now with that out of the way I’d like to pose this question: Why has child violence been increasing?
When looked at analytically and not with a monetary/political agenda the answer is very clear – VIOLENT MEDIA.
There have been hundreds of studies by people with a lot of letters after their names, and far smarter than I, either supporting or dismissing the violent media theory. One thing is quite clear – child violence is steadily rising and the level and amount of violence in all forms of media is also increasing. It is not as simple as that but the media is certainly not off the hook.
The bottom line is that we are a profit driven capitalistic society and violence – whether in TV shows, movies, video games or music – sells. Profits and demand drive the media, so responsible parents also share an equal amount of the blame and responsibility in the increase and glorification of marketable violence in our society.
Children today are given more freedoms and less responsibility and accountability. Discipline, especially physical, is at an all-time low.
How often have you seen a young child throw an explosive temper tantrum in public? The parent usually either ignores it or gives in, giving the child his or her way? The lesson learned: If I want something and am told “no,” acting this way will get what I want.
The primary job of parents is to raise and teach their children. An adult denied a raise doesn’t drop to the floor and throw a temper tantrum, crying and yelling? They go back to the drawing board and try to improve themselves so they can achieve your raise.
Does a teenage boy whose girlfriend just broke up with him throw a temper tantrum to make her change her mind – or decide it’s time to kill her and a bunch of other people? Most will take the rejection in stride and move on.
EUREKA! Are we starting to see some patterns here?
Parental responsibility, participation trophies, no child left behind, violent media, parental codling and the nest egg syndrome (adult children living at home) all share equal blame for the increasing child violence problem. Many parents genuinely try to provide a better life for their children and this is as it should be – but it should not be done by coddling and not holding them responsible for their actions.
Success is built on good behavior and hard work, not entitlement. You can work hard, do everything right and deserve more than you have but you still might not get it. Failure or not achieving your goals, even though it may be unfair, are facts of life. Sometimes life is not fair and you just have to keep trying. You don’t quit and or go on a shooting spree.
Case in point: Elliot Rodger drove a BMW. He didn’t have to earn anything and was never held accountable. His parents gave him everything… except a girlfriend, so he stabbed and shot people and ran them over with his car. This is not an isolated incident.
Child violence has been around forever. Columbine brought the active school shooter to light and was basically the ‘starting point’ for the modern era but there have been documented cases back to the 1800s. However, the number of cases, degree of violence and frequency has increase exponentially since Columbine.
The problem – children are protected and coddled more than ever yet simultaneously exposed to more violence. Parents try to give their children every advantage and protect them from all that’s negative and bad (in theory, this is grand) – yet they give them video games that are all about killing and getting points for doing so.
While violent mainstream media has a strong causal relationship with increased child violence, the blame should rest solely on the family unit. It is the parent’s choice to allow behaviors and not teach and hold their children accountable. It is far easier to pacify children with a video game than to take the time to work with them.
As parents it is your job/duty to raise your children correctly and within the socially acceptable bounds of society. The last time I checked it’s not acceptable in any culture to go on a murder spree because your girlfriend dumped you.
Violence is part of human behavior; it always has been and always will be a necessary evil and is sometimes a good thing.
You can’t control what the media portrays, but you can control what your child (and you) are exposed to. It’s not just children who gravitate toward violent media. Many adults like to get their adrenaline dump from the safety of their living room chair though media violence; some end up doing it for real.
This article is strictly my personal opinion and has no affiliation with any person or organization. For those in the encompassing public safety fields (military, LE, security, etc.), keep doing what you do and be safe. For the armchair video game tacticians and TV commandos, police are always hiring, but it is for real and dangerous out there. There is no reset button or replay.