Hate & Violence Lure

The Lure of Hate & Violence is ageless and its cost to civilization is immeasurable. Bullies from the schoolyard to the world stage have relied on its appeal to gain supporters.

This Lure can be irresistible to impressionable youngsters, particularly those with low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, anger issues, or feelings that they don't belong.

In schools across America, the Lure of Hate & Violence results in untold bullying and harassment. Repeated cruel, belittling or sexual comments can have a profound effect on sensitive youngsters, sometimes leaving deep scars. Many kids are so frightened or humiliated by their tormentor that they skip school or flatly refuse to go.

In recent school shootings, some gunmen have cited on-going ridicule by fellow students as contributing to their rampages.

The hostility we increasingly see in young people has roots in many social problems, including neglect, abuse, poverty and mental illness. Such rage feeds on prejudice against those of different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientation or social standings. Oftentimes, it is fueled by drugs, access to guns and/ or the urging of peers. Unchecked and unresolved, such hatred can trigger incredible violence.

Teach children to respect, admire and celebrate the differences in people. Urge them to be understanding of those who are different and to have empathy for those less fortunate.

If your child is labeled a "bully," work with your school to find out why and how to fix it. Seek professional help for troubling or violent behavior or if your child suffers from prolonged depression or withdrawal.

Limit how much violence your child is exposed to via television, video games, movies, literature and music. Point out the physical and emotional pain violence causes victims and their families. Create and practice anger resolution techniques as a family.

Supervise your children. Know their interests and what they do in their free time. If your child surfs the net, what type of sites are being visited? If your child has a webpage or website of their own, what is the content?

If your child displays symbols of intolerance (page 16) on clothing, jewelry or other belongings, find out why. Keep your ears open. What are your kids and their friends talking about?

If you own guns, lock up firearms and ammunition separately. Consider getting rid of all weapons permanently. Explain the importance of reporting threats of violence, including bomb threats, by schoolmates. Stress that reporting can be done anonymously, but that school officials must be told.

Foster self-esteem. Children who feel good about themselves treat others with kindness. Reach out to kids who don't have positive role models. A few well-placed words of praise can work wonders on a youngster's self-image. Kids learn by example, so be a positive role model.

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