Children reflect the society they are raised in. This sets the groundwork for their beliefs, their self-images and their behaviors that, often, last a lifetime. These, in turn, influence school environments, job settings as children mature to adults, and, ultimately, the tone of the entire culture.
From what had been extended family clans and close knit, supportive communities for thousands of years, to the present, where traditional family structures and supports have broken down, influences on our children have become increasingly media based.
These businesses (tv, internet and video games) play an increasing role in children’s lives and care nothing for the long-term well being of our children. They have solely one interest… to make money. This is often done with graphic, intense, high-paced violence that is emotionally powerful and has a strong lure to young children’s undeveloped personas. As well, since children learn behavior by example, it teaches that such violence is acceptable. This is especially important during the preschool years, when there is still some confusion between fantasy and reality, and when the knowledge of right and wrong is still developing.
Citing reference # 1 below: Children watch about 28 hours of television per week. TV programs display 812 violent acts per HOUR. Children’s programming, particularly cartoons, show 20 violent acts per hour. Typical American children will view more than 200,000 acts of violence, including more than 16,000 murders before the age of 18!
In searching for statistics on NYC school violence, apparently, there was controversy that the school system was underreporting the number of incidents. The Daily News cites some 1,124 arrests last year by safety officers and 286 in the first two months of this year. However, that article, also, states advocates, preparing to testify before the City Council, are “… hoping to crack the secrecy that has surrounded school discipline for years.” As well, the NY Times, in a 6/13/06 article, points out how state comptroller, Alan Hevesi issued an audit finding incidents “underreported by schools statewide”.
Fortunately, the NYC Council, on 1/6/11, enacted Int 0442-2010, mandating, “For the first time, the Police Department and Department of Education will have to report to the NYC Council on school safety… suspensions and arrests by both school safety officers and by police officers” as well as details about the students.
While experts concur that media violence negatively influences the young, it is up to us, as citizens, to demand accountability by, not only, our school systems in dealing with this problem, but by the corporate world as well, whose only morality, seems to be, money.
1. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, DevelopMentor. The Impact of Media Violence on Children and Adolescents: Opportunities for Clinical Interventions. (Eugene Beresin M.D.) 2010
2. ACT (Adults & Children Together against violence.) 2010 – Media Violence & Children
3. Gotham Gazette, City Government. Council Approves Bill to Require School Safety Reports. 12/21/10, by Courtney Gross
4. NYC School Violence. Data on Violence in City Schools Is Questioned – New York Times, N.Y. / Region, David Herszenhorn, 6/13/06
5. NY Daily News. Article Collections. School Violence. Thousands of students arrested by safety agents last year raises parents concerns. by Meredith Kolodner, 12/16/10