teaching kids to kill
Dr Harold G Mahabir
Schools out! And the invasion of television into our
private sanctuaries will bring new meaning to discretionary
viewing. The much idolised European Santa, with his commercial
bags and baggage representing big business, will steal young
minds and pull the purses and wallets of succumbing adults.
But there is a bigger invader who will have a cutting impact.
And if your home is fortunate/unfortunate to have cable/dish
hookup, you will see him regularly. Television violence
or, if you prefer, TV, will have a profound influence in
shaping your impressionable child or adolescent during this
Research data collected in T&T concluded that your child
will be watching Mr TV for 12-13 hours a week. And at the
end of this holiday of peace and joy, your child would have
seen close to 700 murders and 6,000 acts of violence.
Kicking, stabbing, shooting, dismemberment are all gift-wrapped
in this holiday package.
Children in this country overwhelmingly settle for action
movies. Exit polls taken in Port-of-Spain, San Fernando,
Sangre Grande and Tobago show close to 75 per cent prefer
guns and gore movies.
Among the popular gifts on their list are cell phones and
video games. Without proper parental supervision, most will
select games with explicit scenes of blood, killing and
It supports the basic contention that childrens exposure
to violence is pervasive. And who gives a care?
Little Tommy S stood by his dad at a video store in Tunapuna.
His favourite movie is RoboCop. His friend Jordon M countered
that Die Hard 2 was the best.
Murder is one of the main themes in both movies. In the
first RoboCop, 32 people were killed followed by 81 in the
sequel. In Die Hard 2, 264 met death.
The Hollywood set is conditioned, contained and controlled
by the murder theme.
Film critics affirm that it is the most violent place on
Earth. Slow motion, pyrotechnics and a penchant for leaving
nothing to the imagination all conspire to make movies and
TV shows more gruesome than ever.
There is research data to prove that in the US, children
leaving elementary school would have seen 8,000 murders
and 100,000 acts of violence. By the time they reach 18,
school-leaving age, they would have seen 40,000 murders
and 200,000 acts of violence.
Like their American counterparts, we can safely conclude
that children in T&T are seeing too much violent TV.
For example, when most leave elementary school, they would
have seen 2,000 murders and 25,000 acts of violence.
Upon completion of high school, most would have seen 10,000
murders and 60,000 acts of violence. These figures were
calculated from shows aired by the dish network and local
cable stations. Also adding fuel are ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox
Lt Col David Grossman, author of Stop Teaching Our Kids
to Kill, explains, Violence is like the nicotine in
cigarettes... the reason why the media have to pump ever
more violence into us is because weve built up a tolerance...
In order to get the same high...we need ever-higher levels...
The television industry has gained its market share through
an addictive and toxic ingredient.
This mental impact on our children, who have difficulty
discriminating between real life and fantasy, is a serious
In fact, over 1,000 studies have been done within a 30-year
period documenting evidence to suggest the causal relationship
between televised violence and antisocial behaviour.
In the US, the National Institute of Mental Health did a
study, Ten Years of Scientific Progress and Implications
for the 80s, showing then the overwhelming
scientific evidence that excessive violence
on television spills over into the playgrounds, the schools,
and streets. Are we seeing evidence of this in our society?
Complicating this already volatile situation is the sex
madness that is coming right into our living rooms.
It was recently reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation
that there were nearly 3,800 scenes with sexual contents
spotted in more than 1,100 shows.
The American Parents Television Council says, Kids
who have repeated exposure to sexual content become sexually
active at an earlier age.
However, not every child exposed to the filth on the TV
screen will grow up to be violent or hurried into
sexual relationship. Vigilant and caring parents must
be commended for incorporating spiritual values into their
homes to counteract this violent scourge. A few suggestions
Seek ways to restrict children from viewing certain violent
shows (the V-chip and other tools can help).
Parents should limit the amount of media exposure in their
Watch TV with children.
Help children select appropriate rated movies and video
Create a safe environment for children.
Teach vigilance without creating hysteria.
All parents must work to establish guidelines.
Parents can make their children enjoy this holiday period.
Accepted that violence is the scourge of our society, but
parents can put a dent on this bothersome trend.
Peace and goodwill to all.