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Talking to Kids About Violence

Following the devastating shooting spree in Aurora, Colorado the debate over violence has again been re-ignited. As a result, various pundits and commentators look for things to blame and, once again, the spotlight falls on violent videogames and an entertainment culture that includes other forms of shooting and fighting.

While our site is not the venue for discussing whether these arguments have any merit – we don’t have the clinical psychology credentials to weigh in on the issue – we do know that the role of parenting is essential for kids to grow up as functioning, responsible adults. We believe that is fairly undisputed.

So when we talk about entertainment with our kids, it’s important to highlight the distinction between fantasy violence and real life. Making sure our kids understand the difference between the play-acting of movies and video games and the real violence of Aurora is a hugely important part of modern-day parenting.

We cannot abdicate the responsibility for how our kids process this information, and use the TV or the gaming console as baby sitters to entertain our kids while we do other things. We need to be active participants in this process and let them know that we are watching and that we are here to help them understand and process the information they absorb.

We don’t have to look over their shoulders every minute of the day but we do have to be there when they need us and answer any questions they may have. This is how they can feel safe and how we can establish a clearer path for them when they are confused.

In my house, we like to watch Monday Night Raw – it’s the perfect way for kids to understand the difference between combat that’s packaged for a family audience and the all-too-frequent violence of the real world. If your child enjoys watching Raw or wants to attend one of WWE’s live events, then use it to start a dialogue about the difference between a friendly rivalry and real enmity, and the way rivalries can be molded into sport and entertainment.

And use all the tools that the WWE provides to help you in that discussion – Be A STAR, for example, is an excellent way to help establish the boundaries that exist between fun and bullying. Only you can help your child understand the difference.

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