I have a child, 5 years old. I love him more than I could imagine. The other day he was playing with a miniature broom and using it like it was a sword. Since this is a heavy, solid piece of wood and he likes to play in front of the flat screen TV, I felt it prudent to take him to the local toy store and get him a plastic sword and return the broom to his grandmother. ( No she doesn’t ride it, she’s a sweet lady.) At any rate, a relative commented recently about how perhaps he should not be exposed to violent television programming. Now I agree children should not be subjected to gratuitous violence especially depicting such between two people, as they may not understand the context however this was a robot war type show not real people. Personally, I enjoy watching MMA competition and he has done so with me. I have explained to him these are competitors, athletes and it is a sport like football or baseball, just a combat sport. He seems to understand this well and there have been no incidents at school or with neighbors of him trying to re-enact such behavior. Anyway, I subject you to all that background information to ultimately make a much larger point (or two).
First, I think human beings are born with a capacity toward violence. I mean why does anyone become violent in the first place? I was once told by someone that anger itself is not an emotion, it is a defensive response to an emotion. Anger usually follows some form of disappointment, i.e. “My expectation was not met” or “I didn’t get what I want.” Ever watch a child not get something their way? What do they do? They get angry, they want to strike out physically. Is this not a tantrum? It just so happens as we get older we learn more sinister means with which to express our “things aren’t going my way” tantrums. Violence is one of those ways. People must learn to control their emotions and impulses and it’s my experience that most people really never do or at least not well. As a parent it is my job to teach my child to recognize his emotions and the subsequent response and deal with them properly.
This brings me to another point. There is an ever growing push in this country to displace children from weapons, real or toys. Don’t let them play with toy swords, or guns. Don’t let them watch superhero cartoons where there is fighting and conflict. It is said such things as well as video games desensitizes them to violence. Now don’t get me wrong, allowing a young impressionable child to sit for hours at a time in front of a game system pumping his brain full of images of endlessly shooting people or beating women such as in games like Grand Theft Auto is not a good thing. Kids are impressionable and without proper guidance this overload of unsupervised carnage can give them a bad idea of how to properly interact with others for certain. But I digress. My question comes to this: if you keep a child from playing with toy guns or swords how do they react when they see a real one? I think by teaching a child not to swing a wooden broom around because it may hurt someone and replacing it with a toy sword with the same instructions the child begins to understand this may be a toy but it represents a device that could be lethal. Teach them with a toy first, then they will safely gain familiarity and when they transition later to a real gun or blade they will understand it’s purpose and it’s potential. They will know not to point a gun at a person other than for defense. For those poor, overly sheltered children who never have that experience they only know it’s bad and truly have no concept of what that ultimately means. If a child does not witness a bad guy being struck down by a superhero’s hammer, sword etc. they cannot understand for what it is used. And on that note do most superheroes not fight for good vs. evil? Is this not a concept we should like to reinforce in our children? While not a comic book hero, did David not slay Goliath? Did the walls of Jericho not crumble? So my question is should we shield our children from these things too? If so are we not then teaching them life has no conflict? In reality we know it does, and they should be on the side of good in those conflicts. I think we do them a disservice, leaving them confused on the boundary between good and evil and leave them without means to handle the conflicts they encounter.
Just my .02 and I doubt it’s even worth that.