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Lowering the Bar on Violence

by Izzy Kalman (May 2003)

Many mental health organizations and experts have an interest in maintaining the public’s fear of the “epidemic of children’s violence.” They continue to talk about this epidemic despite the fact that government statistics show there is no such epidemic. We have been experiencing a steady decline in children’s violence over recent years, even taking into account the occasional mass murder that gets plastered all over our newspapers and TV screen for days at a time. Why do these people and organizations promote this illusion? Because their funding and their jobs depend upon the idea that we are facing an epidemic of violence and we need them to protect us. Last week, I visited a cousin who lives in a small town, Meadville, PA. I read the local newspaper and found the following piece of news in the crime section: a twelve- year-old boy pushed another student and called him a name! Oh, my! Thank goodness our political leaders have had the wisdom to criminalize these behaviors. Let hope the little villain gets his due punishment. I grew up in an era when the word “violence” implied the spilling of blood or the breaking of bones. Today it has come to mean anything someone does to you that you don’t like. I have heard kindergarten teachers telling kids to line up “and don’t touch each other.” I have seen teachers’ anecdotals calling “putting hands on another child” an act of violence. As long as we keep lowering the bar for the definition of violence, those of us who make our livings by combating violence will be kept plenty busy fighting this terrible epidemic. Let us stand strong in our determination to raise a generation of unblemished emotional marshmallows.

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