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Low cost way to reduce school violence

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Rev. Gary Brethour

Friday morning, Jan. 4, 2013, I heard a thought provoking Denver radio talk show discussing the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn, and school violence in general. (I drove a lot of miles during the Christmas season. I listened to the radio a lot of the time.)

The radio show host referred to some research by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, M.Ed., U.S. Army (Ret.) Director of Warrior Science Group, www.killology.com. As his biography states: "Lt. Col. Dave Grossman is an internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier, and speaker who is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime." (www.killology.com/bio.htm)

"Col. Grossman is a former West Point psychology professor, Professor of Military Science, and an Army Ranger who has combined his experiences to become the founder of a new field of scientific endeavor, which has been termed "killology." (www.killology.com/bio/htm)

WWII Lesson

"During World War II, U.S. Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall asked average soldiers how they conducted themselves in battle... Marshal was a U.S. Army Historian in the Pacific theater during World War II and later became the official U.S. historian of the European theater of operations. He had a team of historians working for him, and they based their findings on individual and mass interviews with thousands of soldiers in more than 400 infantry companies immediately after they had been in close combat with German and Japanese troops. The results were consistently the same: Only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during WWII would fire at the enemy. Those who would not fire did not run or hide -- in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages. They simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges." (Hope on the Battlefield by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/...

"S.L.A. Marshall's methodology has been criticized, but his findings have been corroborated by many other studies. Indeed, data indicate that soldiers throughout military history have demonstrated a strong resistance to killing other people." (Hope on the Battlefield)

"In his book War on the Mind, Peter Watson observes that Marshall's findings have been largely ignored by academia and the fields of psychiatry and psychology. But they were very much taken to heart by the U.S. Army, and a number of training measures were instituted as a result of Marshall's suggestions. According to studies by the U.S. military, these changes resulted in a firing rate of 55 percent in Korea and 90 to 95 percent in Vietnam." (Hope on the Battlefield)

"The triad of methods used to enable men to overcome their innate resistance to killing includes desensitization, classical and operant conditioning, and denial defense mechanisms." (Hope on the Battlefield)

Teaching Our Kids

to Kill

Lt. Col. Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano authored a book entitled: Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movies & Video Game Violence. Grossman and DeGaetano provide "incontrovertible evidence, much of it based on recent major scientific studies and empirical research, that movies, TV, and video games are not just conditioning children to be violent -- and unaware of the consequences of that violence―but are teaching the very mechanics of killing." (www.killology.com/book_stop_summary.htm)

"Indeed, today many video games are actually replicating military training and conditioning kids to kill -- but without 'stimulus discriminators' to ensure that they only fire under authority." (Hope on the Battlefield)

Less TV = Less Violence

Grossman wrote an article for the American Family Association (AFA) that was published in their October 2001 Journal entitled, "Pulling the plug on kids and violence. Study confirms obvious: less television = less violence."

"So what can we do to reduce school violence? Convince kids to turn off the TV! In July, 2000, a joint statement was made to the U.S. Congress by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. What they said was: 'Well over 1,000 studies point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior in some children.'" (www.afajournal.org/2001/october/television.asp)

"Earlier this year Stanford released a landmark study demonstrating a 50 percent decrease in verbal aggression, and a 40 percent decrease in physical aggression, just by encouraging kids to turn off their TV's and video games." (AFA Journal, Oct. 2001)

School Shooter Profile

"What is the profile of a school shooter? Say we have a police officer in every school and all the educators are watchful for problems. What is it that they need to look out for? One of our authors, Col. Grossman, was a co-trainer with the Secret Service when they released their interim report on the profile of a school killer. It was not extensive for the simple reason that there is no specific profile. The killers are white, Native American, African American, and Hispanic. They are upper class, middle class, and lower class. They are from broken families and intact families. While most are males, several are female. There is no profile -- although the FBI research says that a 'fascination with violent media' is a common factor with all the school shooters." (Preventing Violence in Our Schools by Dave Grossman & Loren Christensen, www.killology.com/school_notes_preventin...

Try It Out for Yourself!

I may have unfairly looked for and quoted an author that agrees with my already held opinion. So, try your own "experiment" with your family and other families. Pull the plug on the TV and violent video games and see what happens.

What I have seen of the violent video games appears to be very similar to the methods used by our armed forces to train our military to defend our country. I do not want to suggest this is the only cause of school or youth violence. I am sure many factors come into play. But this one factor is something you can control now. It will not be politically correct, but try it. Turn off the TV. Put away the violent video games. We do not have to wait for a government study or program, or spend any money to do it.

Violent video games and other media may not be the only reason, but a piece of the puzzle that is our American culture becoming more violent. Exercise some parental supervision and control.

A parent recently told me: "We need to set boundaries and be ready to enforce them. It is not fun. But it is a parent's God given duty."


Grossman's research is thought provoking. During WWII, Gen. Marshall's research found that a significant percentage of soldiers did not aim very well at the enemy. We normally have an aversion to killing another person. The Army took notice and by the Vietnam War had changed the training so that the vast majority of soldiers did aim with effect. I remember my brother and I having a discussion many years ago about his military training and how they were desensitized and conditioned to shoot another human being. Our modern military training is similar to what so many violent theme video games provide.

Change your family. It is something you can control. Spend time in family oriented games, prayer time, exercise, family meals eaten together, go to church on Sunday, etc. As a favorite author, Matthew Kelly often says, "Our lives change, when our habits change."

We need to protect our children now. The military got results, sooo...... how are our youth being formed or trained right under our own roofs?

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