All you have to do these days is turn on the TV or radio or boot up a computer and you really can't help but hear news stories about how violent our world can be. From mass shootings in public places to domestic violence to mental instability causing people to do terrible things.
When my kids were young, they had Nerf guns with the foam projectiles, but any gun that looked even semi-real I didn't want them to have. This presented no problem when my oldest daughter was young. However, by the time my son came along, the proliferation of first-person shooter and military campaign video games like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed were coming into their popularity. My husband loved these games. My son, then about 8 years old, or so, wanted desperately to play these games with his Dad. I balked for a long time, and many an argument was had over the subject. I much preferred C. to just play his Zelda, Zak & Wiki, and Mario Bros. games.
But, my husband said it was no big deal and that C. understood (and he would continue to reinforce) that the games weren't real and that the behaviors in the games were not acceptable in real life. I finally got tired of fighting about it and decided to trust my husband and our parenting style to instill the values we wanted our children to carry into adulthood. This was not a decision I took lightly, but with great trepidation, with one incontrivertable caveat. I told my husband that if, at any time, C. showed signs of being aggressive, bullying, violent behavior (or his grades tanked) that I would pull my consent immediately.
I have watched their love of these games grow now over the last eight years or so. It is something they really love to do together and has fostered a bond between them much the same as the bond I had with C. when he was younger and I would read the walk-throughs to him for Zelda and other games to help him find items and beat levels. He and my daughter, A., have also loved other games over the years such as Minecraft, The Sims and all of the other non-violent games that I enjoy watching them play.
C. has never exhibited any concerning behavioral patterns that lead me to believe that video games have encouraged him to incorporate negative behaviors into his real life. Neither have we found that any of our children have spent time on websites that are off-limits. I'm thankful for that. Our biggest issue with our children is how much time they want to spend online. Sometimes it can be a bit aggravating to get them away from it to bathe, eat dinner or do chores. But, all it takes is the threat of grounding them from electronics to get their attention because they know from experience that I am dead serious when I get to that point.
I still worry, though, and hope that all of our love for online activities doesn't keep the kids from living a full, inclusive life with many activities and experiences in favor of becoming hermits. I don't think that will happen. Our kids are active in soccer, regular band, marching band and other activities.
I am very excited to have the opportunity to read and review, In The Line of Fire: Raising kids in a Violent World, by Jan Arnow. Published by Butler Books, it is a full-size paperback printed on thick good-quality paper. The entire book is in full-color featuring color photos, checklists, quizzes, and other sources of information about the topics covered. Eloquent quotations from people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, Robert F. Kennedy, Muhammad Ali and many other esteemed persons are peppered throughout the text.
If video game violence is your concern, see page 9 for a list of addresses for 10 companies that sell children's toys and video games such as Hasbro, Nintendo, SEGA, Mattel and others. On page 16, a list of companies related to television programming can be found. And on page 39, you can find a list of publishing companies to express concerns regarding literature marketed to children. Educational resources can be found on pages 72-73.
Additionally, at the end of each chapter are a list of websites to find more information about the subject covered in that section of the book. Throughout the book you will find quizzes to test your knowledge, checklists of information to consider or actions to take to educate and protect your children, and much more.
In The Line of Fire focuses on providing information, studies and statistics, and debunking popular myths regarding the culture of violence in America and how it affects children. Ms. Arnow shares real-life case studies to illustrate the concepts discussed and over 400 actionable tips for parents and educators to address the issue of violence and children.
You will find the following chapters included:
- Ch. 1 – Conditioning for Hatred and Violence (play as practice for adulthood, influence of advertising, war toys, media literacy)
- Ch. 2 – What is Your Child Reading (Sexism, Racism, Bias)
- Ch. 3 – The School Climate–Creating a Supportive Setting (At-Risk Student Populations, Conflict Resolution, Multicultural Education, Crosscultural Counseling, Positive School Climate)
- Ch. 4 – Growing Up Equal–Gender Fairness in the Classroom (Early Gender Socialization, Sexism in School, Gender-fair Teaching, Sexual Harrassment)
- Ch. 5 – Parents and Teachers as Partners (Barriers to Parental Participation/Engagement, The Changing Family, Family Involvement)
- Ch. 6 – Sticks, Stones and Digital Damage (Bullying-Bullies/Victims/Bystanders, Cyberbullying, Internet Safety)
- Ch. 7 – Guns Are Us (Product Placement, Marketing to Children, Accidents with Guns, Legal/Illegal Gun Markets, Gun Myths)
- Ch. 8 – From Hate to Harm (Persistence of Social Problems, Communication Across Cultures, Hate Crimes, Gangs, Community Services)
- Ch. 9 – Actions as Antidotes–Working for Change (Compassion Fatigue, Reactions to Troubled Times, Commitment to Change)
I am so extremely impressed with this book. It is chock-full of information, definition of words/phrases and concepts, case-studies, and other resources of information to research the topics discussed further. This is a carefully-considered publication, it does not feel thrown together, at all.
For anyone who is interested in the topic, please check out this publication. For less than $30, you will find so much information given in brief, concise format along with information to find a ton of other resources. If I were to try to do the research myself, it would take me many months of dedicated time and effort to attempt to pull together this amount of information. I have looked at dozens of books in our local book store on the subject and felt intimidated and totally lost trying to figure out which would best suit my needs to study the subject of violence and children.
How concerned are you, Reader, about your children and the influence of violence on them?
Disclaimer: I was provided with one free copy of this paperback book to facilitate this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.