If there is any one thing that we all want for our kids, it is that they are safe. And yet, in many nations violence involving children as either victim or participant has risen dramatically in the last 20 years.
Is there anything that you can do to protect your child? Tragically, there is no simple answer to this question. So let’s look at the down side first. No, there is nothing you can do that will guarantee that your child will not be a victim of, or at least be exposed to brutality during their youth. Why?
In many cities having large populations kids die every week in “drive-by-shootings” and as collateral damage in drug and gang wars. Are these things preventable? Perhaps, but not by individual parents in most situations.
But the good news is that in most other instances there are steps that can help protect your child and even prevent the violence.
Here are the recommended steps:
- Limit their introduction
- Limit their risk
- Limit their vulnerability
Let’s take them in reverse order.
How do you limit vulnerability?
Two ways: Situational Awareness and Self Defense Skills. Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst. Too many people become victims simply because they do not pay enough attention to what is going on around them. September 11, 2001 and three airliners taken over with nothing but box cutters taught us a lot about that.
In the Self Defense arena: recent studies have shown our former beliefs that resisting during a crime will cause things to be worse were totally wrong. Here is one example: (PRWEB) July 16, 2005 “Recently the Florida State University department of Criminology released a study indicating that people who employed self protection strategies reduced their likelihood of injury when compared to nonresistance.”
Take a Self Defense course with your child. Encourage them to take up wrestling, boxing or martial arts. In a society that often protects the guilty from consequences we must teach our children to protect themselves. If you opt for Karate or another Martial Art, go see either version of The Karate Kid movie first.
You want to pick a teacher/school that discourages fighting. I was taught that if given options your preferred choices in a fight are:
First – avoid it any way possible
Second – hurt rather than maim
Third – maim rather than kill
Fourth – kill rather than be killed
The school I attended would kick you out if you were involved in a fight for any reason other than being attacked by surprise.
How do you limit risk?
Help your child develop “street smarts.” What is that really? At the top of the list is situational awareness and self-awareness. How many teens have put themselves in a bad situation simply by reacting to something with a sarcastic comment? Teach your young ones to not go looking for trouble. At some point it may find them anyway, so a little caution can save a lot of pain and heartache.
In one sense ‘street smarts’ just means making the choice to not be a victim by being aware. When you are aware of postures and obvious emotions you can usually see trouble coming. That does not mean expecting trouble; it simply means being observant all the time. Notice people, watch attitudes, observe exits, fire alarms and telephones. This is not about planning for anything it is simply about paying attention to your surroundings.
How can you limit their introduction to violence?
The three main sources of childhood exposure to cruelty & assault are: media (TV, video games, & movies) bullying, and domestic violence. Bullying and domestic violence are beyond the scope of this article. But I have listed others in the order of the amount of exposure kids have to them. Unsurprisingly, television ranks as the number one place kids witness violence simply because of the sheer volume of hours spent in front of it.
As any advertising executive will tell you, it’s all about repetition. The American Medical Association has found that in homes with premium cable channels, or a VCR or DVD, “children typically witness 32,000 murders and 40,000 attempted murders by the time they reach the age of 18.” And what about the over 200,000 other acts of violence they see there? If you think there is no impact you have not been paying attention.
If you can honestly say that video games do not trivialize evil & criminal behavior, you haven’t played many. Most interestingly the video games and movies, and even the music theses days all have rating systems. It takes almost no effort to discover what your child should not be exposed to. But it does take an effort to limit their exposure. You have to step up and be responsible. It is part of what being a parent means.
Our society has buried our children in a culture of constant violence. It occurs so often that it has become acceptable. How can we expect kids to avoid fighting when parents at children sporting events attack coaches & each other? When the sports stars and music ‘idols’ portray brutality in word and deed?
There is really only one sure cure to what is happening all around us. We need to end it. To stop ‘letting it happen’ and prevent our children from coming up in a culture where it is taken for granted. Do you accept for one moment that if we all decided to bring an end to any aspect of violence in our society that we could not do it? Really?
You take care of your circle of influence and I’ll take care of mine.