Family Affair

THE EFFECT OF VIOLENCE ON CHILD by Dr Mrs Nma Olebara

In this context, violence refers to child abuse or other domestic conflict, gang aggression and community crime including assault.

The causes of violent behaviour in society are complex and interrelated. Prominent among them are poverty, unemployment, illegal drugs, inadequate or abusive parenting practices and real life adult models of violent problem-solving behaviour.

Violence according to Festus Iyayi’s novel is “when a man is denied the opportunity of getting a job, of being educated, of feeding himself and his family, of getting medical attention cheaply, quickly and promptly.”

Extreme poverty is a major cause and predictor of violence. To avoid the escalation of violence and terror, there must be investments in health, education and participation especially for the young.

The destructive effects of violent living conditions and experiences on our children cannot be underestimated. At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of reported violent acts directed at children and increase in violent acts observed by children through the media including televisions, movies, computer games and video tapes and an increase in the manufacture and distribution of weapon – like toys and other products directly linked to violent programming. This trend will endanger the healthy development of significant number of our children. It is the responsibility of parents, teachers and government to protect children from unnecessary and potentially harmful exposure to violence. The television and other media have the potential to be very effective educational tools for children.

Parents are ultimately responsible for monitoring their children’s viewing habits. They need assistance in protecting their children from unhealthy exposure to violence. There should be limits to the content of programming directed at children and censorship so that they cannot be exposed to pornography, crude and lewd films.

Children that consistently view violent films normally become insensitive to the pain and suffering of others. They may become more fearful of the world around them, and may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways towards others. According to Rule and Ferguson “Exposure to media violence as a normal response to stress and as an acceptable means for resolving conflict”.

Research carried out by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1982 demonstrates that watching violent programmes is related to less imaginative play and more imitative play in which the child simply mimics the aggressive acts observed on television. In addition, many media productions that regularly depict violence also promote programme-based toys that encourage children to imitate and reproduce in their play the actual behaviours seen on television or in movies. In these situations children’s creative and imaginative play is undermined, thus robbing children of the benefits of play for their development.

Children who are frequent viewers of media violence learn that aggression is a successful and acceptable way to achieve goals and solve problems; they are less likely to benefit from creative, imaginative play as the natural means to express feelings, overcome anger and gain self control.

Children that live with violence may repress feelings. It interferes with their ability to relate to others in meaningful ways and to feel empathy. Children that cannot empathize with others feelings are less likely to curb their own aggression and more likely to become insensitive to brutality in general.

According to (Craig, 1992) “when children’s energies are drained because they are defending themselves against outside danger or warding off their own fears, they have difficulty learning in school.” Those that are traumatized by violence can have distorted memories and may have trouble getting along with other. The anger burning in them makes it difficult for them to control their behaviour and may spur them to resort to violent actions.

The children that are traumatized by violence may have difficulty seeing themselves in future roles that are meaningful.

For instance those children in the Northern parts of this country that are witnessing bombing and kidnapping always live in fear, tension, anxiety because they always anticipate disaster and cannot concentrate in school and they do not have the freedom to move about as a result of drug addicts, terrorists and gangs  that have polluted the environment.

They are often frightened, upset, and afraid of being alone, withdraw from friends and become truants in school. They have bad dreams and are afraid that they may be victims of violence or natural disaster.

Some activities performed by children like studying, calculation meditation, creativity, and relaxation require the thinking of their mind in a stress free environment because a sound body rests in a sound mind.

Both separation and divorce are often associated with grief –based emotions like sadness, depression anxiety, lethargy and anger and children from such homes are sad, upset and shocked. They normally suffer emotional behavioural problems, youth delinquency and psychological experiences. Such a situation threatens the security of the child and they suffer child abuse. Many of the children from such homes suffer a lot of trauma and it affects their studies. They have lower academic achievement and use drugs more often, commit delinquent behaviour and sexual abuse and are likely to become pregnant as teenagers and drop out of school or impregnate another, contract STDS and HW/AIDS. They are haunted by the trauma of having separated/ divorced parents and financial deprivation.

Parents have very significant roles to play in raising their children according to strong moral code, choose to be morally responsible so as to reduce the growing problems of pornography, lewd, crude books, violence, cultism, drug addiction, promiscuity, rape, unwanted pregnancies and abortion.

The qualities of the family determine that of the society. It is the first stable for raising, nurturing, and sustaining enviable conducts and high morals in a child. Some parents have abandoned their duties of providing guidance to their children in pursuit of wealth which cannot be a substitute for moral teaching.

Sidney Newton Bremer made us to understand that the minds of little children operate somewhat like the copying machines in our office….They constantly record and tend to perpetuate every thought or suggestions to which they are exposed. We cannot expect children to grow decently if during their impressionable years, they were subjected to fears, worries, hatred, jealousies and quarrelling. Parents should raise their children to realize that violence is not morally acceptable and accept the responsibility of keeping their children away from games even on internet, monitor the types of films their children watch, the types of books they read so that they will grow into responsible and God fearing children.

 

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