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.