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When kids kill other kids, are parents to blame?
We blame it on movies, music, video games and the news, but are parents actually the ones responsible when their children commit murder?
Society blames it on movies and music, video games, the news and even other kids when children murder other kids or even adults. Everyone wants to point their fingers at all the negative influences in the media, and say they are the reason for kids becoming violent, and even homicidal. But are those influences really what drive children and teens to murder?
We’ve all seen it in the news: Parents rallying against violent video games, graphic movies, heavy metal and even the children’s peers when a young person commits murder or some other violent act. Everyone bands together to destroy these “negative influences” because they’re “corrupting our youth”. Just like Elvis’ hips were blamed for teen promiscuity in the past, performers and artists are being blamed for the violence of today.
One thing which seems to hold true is that few, if any, people look to the parents to see where they might have gone wrong in raising the child. Everyone looks to an external source, even though it is completely possible, and perhaps even likely, that the parents are the ones to blame for the behavior of their children. As a result of abuse or improper upbringing, these kids think they can get away with murder.
Violent movies and video games might be bad for some children, but this isn’t the fault of those sources themselves. Parents fail to teach their children that these things are fantasy. They don’t tell kids that sure, it’s fun to kill bad guys in a video game or watch people get beat up in a movie, but those are actors and no one is really getting hurt, and video games are make-believe. They also don’t teach them that in real life, the person you just shot isn’t going to respawn or get up and appear in another film. They’re really dead, and there’s no coming back. Real world violence has consequences, but parents aren’t taking the time to tell their kids about it.
Another area where parents and teachers alike are partially responsible for child and teen violence is bullying. Bullying is a huge problem in most schools, whether public or private. Kids pick on and abuse other kids, and little is done aside from a firm talking to or detention, if that much happens. Bullying is seen as “a part of growing up” and people feel that those who are picked on should just “toughen up”. If bullying had harsher consequences in school and parents taught their children that it was wrong, a great deal of youth violence could be averted.
One issue that exacerbates the problem of youth violence is that most kids have no outlet for their anger. Let’s face it, growing up is brutal. You have to deal with school, grades, dating, bullying, hormones, parents, teachers, cliques, and a myriad of other confusing and frustrating things. Kids get fed up and angry. If they had constructive ways to vent that anger, they might not be as apt to take it out on each other.
Those video games, music and movies so many rally against are actually a good way for many kids to vent their frustrations and handle daily life. Music can be very powerful, and I myself have been known to blast some heavy metal when I’m angry and want to drown out the world. Video games can also be a way to take out violent thoughts on a fantasy level, rather than doing it in real life. Movies too can be an escape from reality, and provide vicarious satisfaction for things we know we shouldn’t do in the real world.
If parents would take more responsibility and teach their children properly, youth violence and murder could be cut drastically. Teach kids not to bully. Teach them that there are real consequences to violence against real people, and being a kid doesn’t always mean the law will go easy on you. And give them outlets for their anger, whether that is video games, music, movies, a punching bag, or beating a tree with a stick. If parents did more parenting and less fighting against the media, they could do a world of good for their own children, and for generations to come.