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This is a challenging discussion for me as I don’t find the research between violence in the media and violent behavior convincing. Some of history’s most violent and barbaric behaviors came well before the invention of television. Comparatively, we as a society have made great strides in that regard while simultaneously growing our population exponentially. We have a lot more people (increasing the risk for violent personalities) yet, we have far less violence overall. Let’s be honest: the human race has a track record of being grossly barbaric.
That said, I do understand that there are aggressive tendencies in children that need to be addressed. I think to say that they are modeling behavior from parents or television is too much of an oversimplification. A good friend of mine adopted a newborn baby boy who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at age 7. He is prone to dramatic, violent outbursts. A passerby might assume his parents are responsible, but that would be an inaccurate judgment. I think we have to be very careful when it comes to blaming parents for a child’s aggressive behavior as there are many factors that could potentially contribute.
First of all, let’s look at the maturity levels of children. We have discussed many times before that children are ill equipped to deal with our social parameters and we must teach them responsible behavior. Therefore, it is safe to assume that an immature child would resort to aggression to solve his problems. It is a base, primal instinct that we are born with. We must first be taught to handle our emotions intellectually. Secondly, anger and aggression often mask other emotions in immature children. Emotions such as fear and frustration may show up as aggression. Conditions such as ADHD may be responsible for an extreme amount of frustration in a child.
Our book describes anger-based aggression as hostile aggression (Marion, p. 271). Cruelty to animals falls under this category. I think raising a child with animals is a great way to teach empathy, even for the most aggressive child. We discussed earlier in the course the benefits of a class pet and I think that would apply here.
In conclusion, I don’t believe this a black and white issue. I think we must be careful to blame external causes that seem far too easy or simple.
The information that struck me the most this week was learning about how parenting influences aggression in children. I had known beforehand that parents with particularly harsh discipline methods, as well as parents who are verbally or even physically aggressive with each other in front of their children are directly modeling aggressive behaviors that the child will be likely to rehearse at home or in the classroom (Marion, 2015, p. 280). However, it was new information to me that unresponsive and neglectful parents also foster children’s aggression (Marion, 2015, p. 282). I used to have a child in my class who came from a very unresponsive family. Typically, she was a lovely child. At other times, however, she acted aggressively, sometimes hitting other children without being provoked, or throwing books across the library for (what I thought at the time) no apparent reason. Now, looking back, I am certain that her unmet needs at home were a large part of her frustration and outbursts. I wish I had known this at the time, so that I could have been more empathetic and done more to help her.
There were so many awesome resources this week! I would 100% recommend looking over the webpage “Behavior Problems ” by the University of Michigan Health System, found at http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/behave.htm. The page itself has useful information covering very relevant topics such as temper tantrums, biting, bullying, aggression, and changing problem behaviors. What I particularly like about this resource is that it provides links to a plethora of more in-depth articles within each topic—and several of these are also offered in Spanish. I really enjoyed this resource and will definitely be adding it to my online resource handout that I make available for parents in my classroom.
One of the topics covered in the resources this week was bullying, and strategies that teachers can use to help children be assertive in positive ways in order to stand up to teasing. In order to advocate for children that have been victims of teasing and/or bullying, teachers should keep open lines of communication with both children and parents, and teach children concrete strategies to respond to teasing and bullying. I particularly liked Marion’s concrete techniques for children to use when teased—using the “Nerf Ball” response (“Whoa! A Nerf ball! Bounced right off me!”) or self-talking helps victims feel “less helpless and that they can control their reactions—that teasers are not in control” (Marion, 2015, p. 275). I also liked reading about strategies for teachers, children, and parents to use when dealing with bullying. Marion’s suggestions to speak assertively to the bully, and avoid the bully and be with friends are both good tactics (2015, p. 279). Similarly, the resource from Scholastic, “Bullying and Teasing: No Laughing Matter,” says that parents should help children problem solve and learn how to assert themselves, as well as meet with the teacher or the bullying child’s parent if necessary. I think the most important thing teachers can do to prevent and stop bullying is to remain vigilant about keeping an eye out for bullying behaviors, and make sure that her students feel comfortable to share incidents with her. Some bullying behaviors are subtle, and unfortunately, some children may be taught at home merely to “suck it up” and deal with the bullying silently. By being observant and sensitive to the needs of the children, teachers can more effectively monitor the classroom for bullying and halt it in its tracks.
As a mother, having s son who liked to play video games with shooting and violence, I was always uncomfortable with them. After reading the article on Senate Commerce Committee hearing on “The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children” I see that they have actually done studies in which they have found a correlation between more aggressive behavior and media or games that depict violence to young viewers. I think that this is very important for early childhood professionals to know because one may falsely assume the child will see and not re-enact what they see but actually, children are very impressionable and mimic what they see. It is our job to carefully select the type of media that we show our students. This article talked about how there are short and long term effects of children watching these types of violent media. Short term is when the children re-enact the behaviors they see. What we have to watch out for and avoid is the long term aggressive behaviors that they may internalize. With repeated exposure to violence from multiple media sources, the children may begin to believe it is normal and will continue to do it long term. I recommend the article “Violent Video Games Increase Aggression and Violence” because the individuals talking about this topic are esteemed professionals who I believe are saying some very important things and giving us warning and knowledge about the effects of violent media that we really need to pay attention to in order to help our students develop in the best way possible, in this case, especially in terms of social development and interacting with their peers. (Violent Video Games Increase Aggression and Violence, 2000)
With this article, one way that we can act as advocates to help prevent the influences of media is firstly to have a conversation with their parents about paying attention to what they are watching when their children are around. There are easy things that parents can do like restricting certain shows with certain type of ratings and topics from being accessed by their children. With the combination of parents watching their children’s media use at home, as well as early childhood professionals screening the types of media shown away from home, the students can be shielded from internalizing these violent and aggressive behaviors while they are still too young to understand its consequences.
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