Is School Violence Our Fault?
Your kid loves guns, action heroes and fighting sequences; nowadays all children do. We, as adults, have somehow helped children unleash their anger and glorify violence. What exactly went wrong?
The stress and anger adults have is having an impact on young minds. There has been a spurt of violent incidents in schools. But what went wrong that children have started taking to as heinous acts as killing others?
We are in an age where violence is treated as heroism. Mainstream movies, video games, cartoons – in brief everything – celebrates violence. As adults, many of us have often bragged how we slapped or argued with a stranger. Children comprehend our brash behaviour as courage.
In many ways, adults have helped set this psyche in children. The society accepts violence like never before; our toleration levels have fallen. But this wrath has made children treat fighting, bullying and even killing as acceptable means of justice.
Impact of glorified violence
Incidents of violence indicate a collective failure by the parents, children, teachers and the society. The cinema and television, too, have a major part to play. When we watch movies like Rowdy Rathore, Wanted or Singham, we give a silent approval to violence. Of late, taking to violence by students in various Indian schools has started appearing in news, though this trend has been commonplace in many western countries.
This early exposure to violence as a form of entertainment, makes them desensitised to pain and suffering. It makes them develop an alter-ego that is insensitive to the core, and the resultant rage justifies violence much like the action heroes such as Salman in Dabangg. Further, do you think all the cartoons your children watch are just for recreation? The shocker is that even they glorify violence!
Violence, like our culture, has evolved with the social changes. As adults have started fighting for small issues, tolerance levels have gone down. Children have adapted our behaviour as normal and acceptable. This is making them brasher and bolder.
In tier-II cities, weapons, especially the illegal ones, are easy to buy and are owned by many people. When a child sees a weapon in real life, he knows the power it holds. So even the smallest of grudges start looking like the end of the world!
Children are crossing the line between black and white, good and evil, since it’s often repeated how everything is a grey area. While it may be true, it’s important to teach the extremes to kids lest they should become too comfortable falling anywhere on the spectrum. And that’s happening – especially when James Bond and Agent Vinod tell kids that it’s cool to have horns and devils at the same time. There is no good or bad involved! As this difference between good and evil decreases, a child can no longer classify things as right or wrong. Vulnerable children have slowly started believing that power justifies it all.
An important factor is the lack of parents’ attention at home. Many people are so busy in the office-home grind that spending quality time with the children doesn’t happen. This constant neglecting makes children brim with loneliness, which often gets converted to rage.
Peer pressure to be the hero. Many children face influential pressure to act as a leader among friends. This leader is expected to pick fights and act as the hero. Children often fall under this pressure if they are not strong as individuals.
What should be done?
Children are very observant; they learn what they see. Parents should refrain from anger outbursts. Spend quality time with children. Observe erratic behaviour and find the reasons behind it. Often, before doing any crime, children try to give a clue, to see if it matters to the parents.
Parental supervision is a vital aspect. Make sure that your children don’t get exposed to excessive information unnecessarily. Television and movies need to be monitored strictly. Don’t consider television as your substitute!
Teachers need to stop playing passive role in inculcating social values. They need to teach children the importance of virtues like patience, control and manners.
Yes, a child must know how to protect himself, but not at the cost of distributing self-styled justice! The difference between being meek, brave and offensive must be taught. Awareness about negative aspects of violence like prisons, jails and police must be given. Parents must not brag about their contacts and network.
Maybe aping the west has also brought in the negatives of their culture. Time and again, Indian etiquettes have come out as a winner. We need to take a step back and understand the need to go back to our roots.
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