Parents it’s sad to say but in today’s world toys can kill. We would like to assume we still live in a world that is safe for our kids, where they can go outside to play and we know they will be safe. However, this is no longer the truth. The world has changed and kids are no longer just safe to go out and play.
One major change is the increase in violence in our society. Since the year 2000 there have been 160 mass shootings and there have been 56 in this year alone (ABC News). Because of this law enforcement and people in general are more sensitive to guns and violence.
The problem for our children is a number of toy manufactures are making toy guns that look real. There was one man selling toy assault weapons on the Internet and he had a waiting list for people wanting to buy these “toys” for their kids. We need to think about the toys kids are playing with. If they are outside or at school playing with a “toy gun” that looks real they may end up getting killed. Kids video games have become violent and many involve shooting and killing. If a police officer tells a little child to drop their gun, they may think it is a game and pretend to shot back. What happens, the child gets killed because they thought they were playing a game. One child gets killed by a gun every 30 minutes in the US (CDC). This rate is higher than the Middle East.
Video games and movies have become very violent. In the 1990’s a movie received an R rating for swearing. Now those movies are PG. Movies that receive R ratings are very graphic violently and sexually. Our kids feel this is normal life. The children I work with are now only interested in watching movies and playing video games that are graphically violent with people getting killed. Remember children don’t reason like adults. They can hit the reset button on a game and start over and everyone is a live.
In addition to movies and games becoming violent children today are being exposed to mass shootings all most daily. As a result, children are accepting violence as an everyday fact of life. I do an anger management group for teens. When the topic of caring knifes or guns come up most teens favor the idea. When I asked about being killed accidentally, they don’t care. Most of them feel there is such a big chance already that they could get stabbed or shot that they might as well protect themselves.
Teens are also using guns as an answer to their problems. We have seen news stories where teens have planned and murdered another kid because they did not like the other child. For teens 10 to 24 suicide is the third leading cause of death and using a gun to commit suicide is one of the top three choices (CDC).
What does this mean to parents? It means when you are buying games, Holiday gifts or birthday gifts that parents need to think. It is important to pay attention to the rating and the age of your child. If you buy the video games rated mature which can deal with killing or raping, do you want your child exposed to these issues? Do not allow them to play with realistic toy guns without appropriate education especially teaching them never to point it at someone. A police officer may not have the time to determine if your teen has a toy gun or real gun. Furthermore, monitor the movies they watch. Do not allow them to watch movies or television shows that glorify violence. Remember their brains are not totally mature yet, so they need their parents to think for them when it comes to violence.
When the US in ranked number one in kids being killed by guns and are children assume they have a good chance of being killed by a gun, and kids think a video game or movie is good only if there is killing, parents must act. Parents must try to re-educate our children. It’s not too late.
Dr Michael Rubino specializes in treating children and adolescents. He has 20 years experience working with teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at www.rubinocounseling.com or his Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.