breaking the cycle of violence
"Teaching children to think rationally and critically actually makes a difference to people's susceptibility to false ideologies. If you look at the people who sheltered dissidents or Jews under the Nazis you find a number of things about them. One is that they tended to have a different kind of upbringing from the average person, they tended to be brought up in a non-authoritarian way, brought up to have sympathy with other people and to discuss things rather than just do what they are told."
It is now generally agreed (backed by overwhelming evidence provided by extensive research) that the relationship with parents and other significant adults is among the most powerful influences on a child's development and outlook. But all parents know that relationships with their children are neither simple nor one-sided; and other powerful influences abound.
A recent study of 9000 teenagers showed clearly that, by the age of twelve, children showed noticeable different levels of aggression according to their upbringing. 'The perception of parents' attitude towards fighting was the strongest predictor of aggression,' said Professor Pamela Orpinas. 'What parents tell their children about fighting tells a lot about the degree to which their children get involved in fighting.' Pamela Orpinas maintains that 'children should be taught how to resolve conflict through peaceful means. It's not quite "turn the other cheek", but it is about communication....
We are in an age where children's violence can escalate and we must make them aware that weapons are not acceptable - and that includes toy ones.' Parents (and teachers) have the opportunity to give clear and explicit messages to their children that fighting is not acceptable and show them different, nonviolent ways to solve conflicts.
The degree to which children and parents get on with each other is an important factor. Crucial too is the extent to which parents keep an active - and supportively critical - eye on their children's activities. Other family relationships also impact on children's attitudes to violence.
There is another major challenge, outside home and school, from the commercially- driven output of violent images, toys and games. Preventing access to these is difficult. It's impractical without unacceptably constant vigilance; and it's inimical to a fair and open relationship between parent and child. For this reason, if for no other, we need to challenge two prevalent views: first, that gratuitous use of violence to promote products is an acceptable means, and, second, that violence-condoning toys and games are acceptable playthings.
Creating a nonviolent environment in the family and the school is vitally important. But it is just as important to work for a nonviolent neighbourhood, nation, world. Failing that, we could become prisoners in our own small protective compound, fearful of the world beyond it.
Take time to listen to, and share information with, your child
Respect your children. Give them space. Respect their privacy. Let them express their opinions.
Guide what your children watch on television and limit their viewing time. Watch programmes with them and discuss them afterwards. Help them to understand the difference between real life and what is on the screen, and to become alert to the contradictory messages about violence.
Because the portrayal of weapons and violence is widespread, especially on TV, make sure your children understand that guns really do kill and cause great unhappiness among victims' relatives and friends.
Teach your child that shouting, verbal assaults and physical force are not the way to resolve conflicts. Show them how to use nonviolent alternatives instead, such as talking, using humour or walking away if necessary. (Walking away to defuse an aggressive situation is a courageous act.)
Help your children to understand that some of their friends may have reasons to be angry and fearful. These friends may not be in an environment in which respect is shown, or they may have role models who are used to settling disputes violently. Try to help your children put themselves in other people's shoes, and, as they do so, trying their best to be patient, kind and understanding. Again, being patient and understanding, especially when other people are not, is a strong and positive action.
From: saying no to violence