Five Solutions To End The Violence That Has Overcome Our Children*Write-Off*

Nov 26, 2000

It is hard to believe how much violence has become an everyday part of our lives. It is all around us. Every time I turn on the television I see it being portrayed in one way or another. Whether it is on the news, in a movie or just on a network television show. It has definitely become an everyday occurrence. It is such a shame that we canít feel totally safe just walking down the street.

As I think back 20 years ago to when I was a kid it is hard to believe how much things have changed. I can remember riding bikes, skating or just playing with friends out in my front yard. I never worried about a thing. Sure, we had certain rules. We were not allowed to go any further than a few houses away, we always had to tell where we were going and we were not to cross the street. These were all basic safety rules that we had to follow. Of course, parents worried about their children being kidnapped, but it was not nearly as prevalent as it is now.

Violence has always been around to some extent, but not in the same ways that it is now. I donít remember schools shootings, the gang problem, or the major drug problems. Yes, I know drugs and gangs have been around for years, but I donít remember having to deal with these issues. It does not matter how poor or how rich a school or community is, violence knows no boundaries.

Sometimes I wish that we could turn back time a few years. I would love to go back to the days where we could go to school or even out of our house and not have to worry about what will happen. Then again, there are so many things that we would miss out on if we did that. So, I have come up with a few solutions to our problems. I know that I am just dreaming to think that we could ever be free of violence, but it is always nice to dream! I have come up with my five most important even though there are many, many more. These are in no particular order.

NOTE This is my personal opinion on things and is no way meant to offend anybody.

FAMILY TIME This is something that is so important, yet is taken for granted or not practiced at all by many. Children need to know that they are loved and have somebody that they can count on. Every family should spend time together to develop these bonds. I have a large family on both my dad and momís side. We have always done many things together and we let each other know that we care. Whether it is my parentís, my grandmother, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, we are all very close and would do anything for each other. I have always felt that way growing up and still do to this day.

I feel that the causes of a lot of problems today are that children just donít feel loved or special. Whether it be true or not, they just donít have those feelings. Now, I am not saying that is the cause of all the problems, because we canít blame everything on our ďfamiliesĒ. Children have to learn to take some of the blame, because we canít go thru life blaming other people for our mistakes.

Another problem today is that a lot of the time parents will take the actions for their childrenís mistakes. Sure, everybody wants to protect their kidsí and would do anything for them. However, this is not always good. Children need to learn discipline. If they make a mistake then they need to face the consequences. Whether it be a spanking, be sent to their room, take something away from them or grounding them, children need to know that they canít get by with everything. This only leads to problems down the road. They start off doing small petty things and if action is not taken this in turn leads to more and more serious things or even crimes as they get older. I learned very young just what my limits were and if I surpassed those then I was punished. This is the way it should be.

Another thing that children need to be taught are values and morals. Without these things then what kind of adult will they grow up to be? They need to learn right from wrong. Now, everybody had their own views on what is right and what is wrong, but there is certain codes of morals that we should all follow to some extent. I have very strict morals that I have always followed and still follow to this day. I know that not everybody thinks the same way that I do and I overlook some things, but there are other things that are just hard to overlook. When I have children I will teach them to go by this same code. I just hope that they do.

Children also need to learn respect. I feel that people have somehow lost the meaning for this word. I see people everyday disrespecting somebody, whether it is a parent, a child, a friend, a teacher, a higher authority, or even an animal. We need to learn to treat others in the same way that we wish to be treated. I know that we do not always like everybody and we donít have to, but we donít need to show it. Respect is such an important thing in life and without it we are in trouble. If people respected other people would we have all of the shootings or stabbings?

They also need to learn to talk things out vs. acting out. We need to teach children to try and talk things out before every resorting to violence. Fighting is never the answer to our problems. I saw a fight one time at a Jack-In-The-Box restaurant that scared me so bad that I never wanted to see a fight ever again.

I remember in high school people would have little fights during school or after school, but they never led to anything serious. They would get broken up before anything serious ever happened. It was more of a thing to see who was ďtougherĒ or ďcoolerĒ than the rest. So much more can be accomplished by talking instead of fighting. I know that guys donít always want to talk things out, but we need to learn that it is too dangerous to fight anymore. It only leads to more serious acts of violence.

AWARENESS AT SCHOOL This is so important, because children are at school almost as much as they are at home. If they donít learn something at home then they will learn it at school. I feel that schools should offer some sort of program to teach kids about violence. They need to learn that it is ok to be mad or upset, but not to act on it. I know schools have acts of kindness weeks as part of learning anger management.

I also think that a one-day class would be great. I know that there are many people who have been thru the gang scene or the drug scene who go around and talk to children. They could bring in several speakers to talk to kids and to show them how that kind of life never turns out good. They need to learn about it before they have the chance to mess up.

I have seen many talk shows about kids who are heading down the wrong path. They always bring in a person to take the kids and show them that way of life. Sometimes they take them to a jail, out on the streets (where the down and out people live), to a hospital, or even the morgue. The children learn what will happen to them if they continue with this lifestyle. I think that it would be great for the schools to offer something like this. I know that schools do have motivational speakers every so often, but I think that they should make this a mandatory thing. Every school around the nation would offer the same basic class. This way everybody would learn the same ďmoralsĒ and ďvaluesĒ thru the school.

KNOWLEDGE OF WEAPONS I feel that this a major issue today. So many children have access to guns, knives or even explosives. Now where are they getting these things with all of the gun laws out there? Well, guns seem to be easy to come by just off of the streets, but a lot of them get them from their parents. A lot of parents are too busy with ďtheir own livesĒ that they overlook the actions of their children. They never even notice that one some of their guns are missing. Look at all of the school shootings out there. Some of these kids have a whole assortment of weapons. A lot even have high-powered rifles. Children should never have access to these!

I was taught to respect guns from the moment I knew what one was. My dad always had several guns in the house. We were taught the proper way to handle a gun and to never ever play with a loaded gun. I also learned that you never point a gun at anybody even if it is a play gun. If you grow up learning these things than you will never take them for granted.

Take for instance the gangs out there; most of them donít even know the proper way to fire a gun. They donít have any sort of aim; they just keep firing off until they hit what they want, whether it was the intended target or some innocent bystander. I know that drive-by shootings were a common thing for a while. Over half of the time they totally missed their target. They would end up shooting at the wrong house or the wrong person. It is like, ďletís just shoot until we hit somethingĒ.

This is all so ridiculous, because many young children are losing their lives because of someone else in the house. An older family member joins a gang and they are the intended targets, but instead the bullets hit the wrong person.

I feel that if children grow up knowing what a gun is meant for then we should not have all of these problems. Now I know that it is not a solution to all of the problems. People will always use guns to kill other people, but it would be nice if there were some sort of slack in the statistics. Wouldnít it be nice if we could go for days without hearing of somebodyís child or parent being killed? These shootings affect more than just one personÖthey affect a whole family. Letís teach our kidsí that guns are dangerous and should never be taken lightly!

MOVIES, TELEVISION, AND RADIO Now I am not saying that we should do away with every violent movie or television show out there. I do believe in freedom of speech, but we need to learn to tone it down some. Do we really need all the blood and gore in some of these movies or the awful language in some of the songs out there today? I know that sometimes things need to be shown or said to get a point across, but a lot of it is very unnecessary.

Some of this is being shown on network television. TV shows are nothing like they were even 10 years ago. We have gone from innocent family shows to very adult-oriented versions. Sure, I enjoy watching these new shows, but have thought many times about how bad they can be for a child to watch. A lot of this also depends on the child and how mature and ready they are to watch shows of a violent nature. I can remember watching more ďgrown-upĒ shows when I was younger. I never cared much for Sesame Street or Mister Rogers, but I did like some cartoons. I feel that I was ready to watch these other types of shows at a very young age. They never affected me in any way.

I also think that this is because I was taught all of the previous things that I talked about. I knew all about guns, respect, discipline, morals, values and love. I knew not to take anything that I saw in movies or on television serious and not to relate them to everyday life.

If a child is going to watch these things then the parent should sit down with them and explain the fact of reality vs. fantasy (or fiction). They need to understand that they should never act out what they see on TV or in a movie. They need to understand that these things should never happen in everyday life.

However, they do need to know that these things are going to happen, but they should never be the cause of it. Children need to realize that they might see things in real life like they have seen on television, because they should never be sheltered away from it. If we try to hide too much then things can go bad. Many children are curious and curiosity can be a very bad thing!

Radio is another thing that should be monitored very closely. There have been so many cases of children getting the wrong ideas from lyrics. I know that a lot of these parents and children blame things on the songs, but then again a lot of children do take what the song says and act out on it. I donít feel that songs should be banned, but that there should be careful monitoring by the parents. I know that it is easy for a child to get their hands on CDís or even listen to whatever they want on the radio. However, parents should always try to find out what their kidsí are buying and listening to.

There are supposed to be parental warnings on certain CDís but how closely is this really monitored? I was over 18 when all of this started, so I donít know how they do as far as selling CDís to minors. I think that they should ID these kids just like they do when they are buying cigarettes or alcohol. This is becoming a very serious issue and should be dealt with accordingly.

Some of the kids that were involved in these school shootings have had their actions blamed on such bands as Marilyn Manson and others. Now, I have listened to these songs myself and never had the desire to go and kill somebody. However, every person is different. The parent should know what their child is capable of handling. Parents need to keep a tighter reign on what their child is watching or listening to. Like I said, some kids can watch or listen to anything and never take a word of it seriously, but then there are others who act out on anything they see or hear.

HAVE BETTER PROGRAMS TO KEEP CHILDREN OFF OF THE STREETS I think that this would be a great solution to many of our problems. If children never have the chance to get in trouble, then it wonít happen. Many things can occur out of boredom or neglect. If the parents canít be there for their kids maybe other people can. I know that they have programs designed to help troubled kids. I have had many middle to high-school age kids come up to my front door selling candy. They claim that it is to help to keep them out of gangs and off of the streets. I used to think that they should do this on their own. However, I have come to realize that a lot of them just canít do that.

Kids are going to find trouble if it does not find them first. So, a solution would be to let neither happen. Many kids have to go home after school to an empty house. I have heard of kids even as young as 7 or 8 staying by themselves until 5:30 or 6:00. Some of them can handle it, but others canít. I would never leave children this young at home by themselves. There is too much that is just waiting to happen, plus there are so many bad people who watch them going in by themselves. I feel that this is putting to much responsibility on someone who is supposed to still be innocent.

I think that some sort of after-school programs would be great. I know that many schools do offer them, but how many parents take advantage of them. They should make these more interesting where the kids would want to go. They could offer different activities, such as, going to see a movie, the zoo, swimming (in the warmer weather, of course), games, and many different activities each day. It would be something that would really interest the kids and parents alike. I donít think that they offer as much in the after-school programs that they have now. I think that the kids are supposed to do their homework and then they can play out on the playgrounds. This gets monotonous after a while.

The new program would be more structured. There would be a lot of group interaction. They would do their homework first then there would be some sort of activity. One day they would play a game together, such as, football, baseball, kickball, etc. Then they would go on outings together every other day. They could even have each child put an idea into a box and then each day one would be drawn and that would be the activity of the day. This way each child has a sense of importance and belonging. The kids would be doing stuff together and this in turn would keep them from wanting to get into trouble. This would be stuff that is of interest to them and that they want to do.

Now what about the weekends? Yes, the kids would be away from school and their ďstructuredĒ environment. My solution would be for the schools to offer weekend-programs. There are young adults that are very willing to help keep kids off of the streets and out of trouble. Many have been there themselves and donít want to see others heading that way. The school could plan activities for the weekend.

Many businesses even offer discounts or free admissions to places of interest. Movies are always fun for any age, the zoo is great, going on a picnic, or even attending an amusement park. These are things that all children do not get to do. Many parents donít have the money or just donít care enough to take them. It is hard to believe how many parents would rather put their responsibility in someone elseís hands.

All of these things tie in together in one way or another. As I sit here and think about all of this I feel that it all boils down to one thing; the home! This is where children learn and follow. If they see acts of violence or are not taught right from wrong, then they will not know anything else!

This is my submission into the write-off hosted by jeanniekerns. This brought up a lot of issues and I really enjoyed expressing all of my feelings. I hope that I have not offended anybody in anyway. These were just my feelings and how I see a lot of the world today. Yes, there is still a lot of good in the world and a lot of parents who really care. We need to try and make every child or even adult feel that somebody does care for them and is willing to take a stand!

Please check out the other writers involved in this great write-off. You will find some very interesting points and thoughts. They are as follows:

jeanniekerns, nwinston, debbie_26, badragon, djsplendid, gwsmith, hawgwyld,
hruizg, msmorvay, badtzgrrrl, beckish, micheich, tresasmom, yyvonne,
my3lilmen,mommie2kk, ginaav, lansky2000, missy32, amberm,, mizsass,
mimi369, sjland0, bananawasher1, bpotter1, annieslif

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