There were missing children at Christmas celebrations in Newtown, Connecticut yesterday. A horrendous aberration. Unspeakable.
Yet we must speak.
And we as parents, and as a society, must change.
The news on the morning of December 15 was devastating. It was even more horrific as the day grew longer.
An unfathomable crime had taken place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The shedding of innocent blood with an assault weapon legally owned by the mother of a young man with mental challenges, family problems, shooting range practice, and a brain not fully developed.
My brain, even fully developed, can't get this. I continue to grieve and pray for these families.
As a mom of 3 teen boys I want to shout to the world that assault weapons should be banned again. I want to shout that all parents should avoid or strictly limit use of violent video games. I want to shout that teens need major amounts of time, guidance and care from their parents, grandparents, extended family and church.
Through parenting classes and books I've learned that a teen's brain doesn't fully form until 25. The frontal lobe of the brain, the one that provides judgment, is not developed. This is a biological fact. So as a mom of teen boys I take exception to harmful media. I take exception to any screen that blocks real live communication. More boys than girls struggle with reading and verbal skills. Parents that give in to excessive amounts of screen time for their boys reduces the chances that their sons develop empathy, maturity, and the ability to communicate kindness, goodness and gentleness, let alone carry on a pleasant conversation.
Too many boys from ages 7-25 play mature (M) violent shooting games. Too many parents give in. I have. All 3 of mine have played games such as Call of Duty on occasion. I am guilty of this, but they were at least 13 and did not play often.
I know only a few things about these M games. Boys can become addicted to getting to the next level, they can pick out virtual weapons with vivid descriptions and become familiar with assault weapons. Enemies come alive again after being killed over and over. Boys can raise their fist and shout "I got 250 kills!" This causes a mother's heart to shrink with fear and loathing.
Enough of the many hours spent unprofitably in unreality. Let's increase more face time, book time, chore time, and volunteer time. Let's train our boys to communicate well so they can give back to their family, friends, church and community. We can't expect them to communicate well if they spend too much time in front of a screen watching violent images over and over. Or participating in chaotic simulated war games. Much good brain power is lost.
I fear these boys are desensitized, jaded and unempathetic. I fear they crave even more action and even more blood spilling. Hollywood sure obliges with each new horror movie or war movie. The ratings really can't be trusted. PG-13 seems like R, and R continues to push past boundaries. The major game manufacturers, WII, XBOX, PlayStation oblige with enhanced graphics and increased violence. Why? Why the improved graphic detail with red splattering to represent the spilling of blood on the screen? When is "realistic" enough?
No BB guns or air rifles here. No way. Yes to a few Nerf guns at birthday parties, but I chafed at those. The only arsenal we have is a deck box of old squirt guns, the largest being a 3-foot Super Soaker.
Our responsibility to raise good citizens trumps our tendency to placate our energetic sons. Our responsibility to pass on good morals and decency trumps our dollars spent feeding the gaming industry.
The victims of Newtown will not come to life again. But maybe the next shooting will be prevented.
Let's reclaim the sensitization of our boys. Let's teach them honor, responsibility, morals and love for family and neighbors. Let's curb the obsession for violence and prevent the addiction.