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Who's Teaching the Children?

by Jennifer Newell Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2003 at 6:22 PM 310-996-1305 1873 Veteran Avenue, Apt. 16, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Violent tendencies of some of today's youth can be blamed on a variety of causes, but the most obvious source of lessons of violence is ignored by the media. Though the government is the first to place blame on others, it has yet to look at its own actions and their affects on children.


by Jennifer Newell

Today’s children seem to be learning about violence at an early age. They are exposed to violence in movies, television, song lyrics, and video games, and some of those children go on to participate in shootings on the streets, in schools, and in their homes. What makes them put this knowledge to use? What makes them want to play with that gun, make that bomb, or plan to kill someone that they hate?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about where our young generation learns about violence. Many say that the parents are responsible for neglecting to teach their children, some protest the excessive use of violence in movies and television, and others point fingers at hip-hop and heavy metal music.

When our government officials take a few moments each year to discuss the issue of youth violence, they typically echo that the burden of blame is with the parents and society. They hold hearings with representatives of the music, film, and television industry to ask that their violent messages be kept at a minimum.

Maybe the members of Congress should take a glance in the mirror. Maybe President Bush and the members of his cabinet should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

Since the events of September 11th, 2001, the leader of our nation has spent a great deal of time talking about revenge and war. Someone, or a group of people, attacked us, and we’re going to track them down, without regard for anyone that gets in our way, and kill them. “Dead or alive,” Bush said.

Our president has also found this a convenient time to urge a war with Iraq, the premise of which is based on shaky evidence of weapons and terrorism. Saddam Hussein is a bad man who doesn’t run a fair and democratic government. “One bullet,” Ari said.

Our government is teaching violence to our children. While our senators and representatives debate the time frame and circumstances of when we attack other nations, our president spouts violence from every podium at every opportunity. He speaks of evil people whose names he is unable to pronounce. He tells us that America has no choice but to remove Saddam from power because his country has defied imposed sanctions by the United Nations; therefore, he deserves to be attacked. Innocent people will die. It’s part of war.

Americans are being taught that there is good and evil, with nothing in between. We are taught that people who don’t believe in freedom in the exact form as Americans don’t deserve to be heard or respected. We are shown that once our government classifies someone as an evil force in the world, we have no obligation to follow the rules of the international community, and we have no desire to negotiate or discuss a peaceful resolution. Threaten violence, and if the bad people don’t buckle under the pressure, the result is war.

President Bush recently signed a law to authorize a 3 billion defense budget, but there is no mention of any aid for the families in America who live well below the poverty level. What message does the current administration send to the children of our great nation? One that is complicated by political motives, cover-ups, and finger-pointing. One that is full of outlandish solutions for international conflicts. One that blatantly disregards problems encountered in everyday life by most families in America.

I suppose that children are not supposed to see the hypocrisy. They deserve more credit than they are being given. They understand the message of President Bush better than most adults; revenge, war, and violence are the answers to our problems. We deserve better messages from out representatives; our children deserve better.

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