Violence: a Social Toxin

Randy Flood

I’m concerned about how parents trivialize violent media. The proverbial argument that not all kids who play violent video games commit violent acts is a short-sighted rationalization for not limiting children’s exposure to violent media.

Psychologist James Gabarino, Ph.D., discusses how violent media is a social toxin that affects everyone exposed, but it manifested primarily in the more emotionally vulnerable people. In other words, individuals who have problems with aggressiveness, impulsivity, limited empathy and emotional connection to others are more likely to act out behaviors that they vicariously perform in the violent games.

Additionally, the repeated exposure to violent games impacts a person’s brain structure and emotionality in that it grooms a person for violence. Why allow our children to engage in an activity that lessens their sensitivity to violence? Just because your child is resilient or healthy, why expose him/her to it?

Do we willingly and repeatedly expose our children to air or water pollution with the rationale that they seem to be fine afterwards, manifesting no immediate problematic signs? No, most parents typically do what they can to safeguard children from water and air toxins, yet may overlook social toxins.

It seems that we would want to do all we can to inoculate our children from perpetuating and condoning violence and abuse in the 21st century, as we have just left the most violent century in history.

We need to do all we can to condition and preserve children’s sensitivity and morbidity to violence particularly the painful impact on victims.

To do so, perhaps, will provide the next generation with the emotional and intellectual skills to diminish violence, oppression, abuse and injustice in our families, schools, communities and world, bringing us a little closer to “peace on earth and goodwill to all”.

Grand Rapids Press, 2003