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March 2001


The Soap Box

by Tarqness

In recent years, violence inflicted by children has been on the rise. Children are killing other children, or their parents. Children are doing stupid things like setting each other on fire. Children are allegedly playing "WWF" and beating each other to death. They are even killing themselves in increasing numbers. Many people have the notion that television shows, movies or even rock-and-roll music is to blame. That's a pretty simple explanation and a convenient scapegoat. Wouldn't you say?

I, however, beg to differ with those people. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. I think those people should check themselves in somewhere until they get in touch with reality again. That's not to say that the entertainment industry doesn't have an influence on children. It most certainly does. It's just that most kids over the age of four can discern between fantasy and reality. I remember watching Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons as a tyke. Talk about some serious violence. Daffy Duck was constantly getting a shotgun blast to the face. Wile E. Coyote fell from many a cliff (or was crushed by one on occasion) and lived to tell the tale.

I don't remember ever thinking that, if I fell from a cliff or was shot in the face, I would survive. I do remember falling victim to what I like to call "cartoon physics" once and only once, however. I was about 5 years old. For some reason, I thought that if I rode my bicycle as fast as I could into our cement porch, the rubber on the tires would bounce and I would begin to travel backwards. I actually attempted it and got three stitches on my chin for my efforts. In my five year old brain, I'd had a very plausible theory about the power of the rubber on the tires. I don't recall thinking anything as ridiculous as, say, if I was run over by a steam-roller, I would just be flattened but could still walk around. And I was no child genius by any means. I was just your average American kid.

Today, television and film are becoming less repressed in subject matter. In many ways, that's excellent. Stimulating the imagination and injecting some hard reality into adults and children alike has its place. Of course there is material on the tube that even I feel is just stupid or gratuitously violent/lusty. I don't deny that there is a great deal of needless smut (think Jenny Jones) that is available for my children to view. But this is where I, as an even semi-responsible parent, step in.

I don't let my kids watch Jenny Jones, Ricki Lake or any other garbage like that. There are plenty of teen slutbags in their school for them to look at. They have no need to gape at the ones who get national attention for an hour. There is nothing in those shows that I feel would benefit them in any way. So, they aren't allowed to watch it if I can at all help it. I don't think they are dumb enough to go out and rob liquor stores or try to kill me or get pregnant for the welfare checks if they watched those shows. I simply don't relish the idea of hearing "don't go there, girlfriend" or "talk to the hand" at the dinner table every evening.

These people who blame television shows like MTV's "Jackass" when their kids douse each other with gasoline and set each other on fire have their heads in the sand, or crammed somewhere else. It's easier and far less painful to blame television when you are simply a crappy excuse for a parent. What 14 year old not raised by wolves doesn't understand that if you set your friend on fire, they will likely get hurt and even more likely die? These stupid kids are the exception, not the rule. Yeah, I have seen "Jackass" once. I think it's inane at best. My kids don't watch it mostly because I don't have cable. I probably wouldn't let them watch it anyway because there are better quality shows on many other channels that they could watch. However, if one of my kids set the other one on fire, I wouldn't blame a television show. I would blame myself for one, allowing them to even have access to a can of gasoline and two, raising them to be idiotic or psychotic enough to torch someone and not have a clue about the consequences.

What ever happened to parents taking responsiblity for the actions of their children? There is an alarming increase in recent years of lazy parenting. Compare that to the increase in violence committed by children and just see if the numbers match up. So my suggestion in solving this problem is for all of you slacker parents out there to actually pay attention to your children. Don't babysit them with TV and the internet and then just see what a difference that makes in the world. And above all else, stop blaming the rest of the world for your own negligence.