The appalling number of school shootings over the past couple of decades, have made parents, educators and law enforcement wonder what could have precipitated such acts of violence. Some shooters have made claims of being bullied at school. While a large number of schools have instituted anti-bullying programs, schools are not the only place where you see instances of bullying. Television has inundated us with shows that glorify bullying and violence.
Bullying is defined as the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. Does this sound like anything that you have seen in a television show?
Let’s take a look at a very popular show that is in its sixth season, Bridezillas. One bride is facing jail time for violating her parole. What was she on parole for? She was “behaving in a threatening manner. A Bridezilla will bully members of the wedding party to cater to her every whim and sometimes her every thought, whether vocalized or not. With millions of viewers laughing at her heinous actions, what does this teach school age children? That it is okay to act in a bullying manner, in fact, the message it sends to young viewers is that it is funny to bully others.
What about the show called Gangland? This is a show that blatantly promotes extreme violence. One episode was even titled Kill Em All. Another ploy to have viewers hanging on the edge of their seats is to advertise that they rob, kill and terrorize and they’ve left their bloody mark on America. Children are thrilled to hear the gory stories gang members tell and watch in awe at the dramatizations and reenactments. What are they learning?
Even seemingly innocuous shows like the Survivor reality shows promote coercion and manipulation. There is back stabbing and cliques are formed to coerce the members into voting others off the show. The one that is the best manipulator is the winner. What does that teach our school children?
Reality shows are prime examples of bad behavior and bullying. Although not all of them show violence per se, all of them do show coercion and manipulation, which is the epitome of bullying. Young malleable minds learn much more from what they see than what they are told. The old proverb, with its many variations, saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul could be interpreted as and be an accurate description of what goes on when one watches television. What the eye sees goes deep into the soul and mind.
It is a medical fact that images from the eyes send signals to the brain. What images are these young minds seeing? What signals are these young brains receiving?
What children see on television is teaching them that bullying and violence are acceptable behavior and that it is okay to practice such behavior in all aspects of their life. Since much of their young life is spent in classrooms that is where they will practice this learned behavior from the television shows that they watch. The more bullying and violence they see the more they will model themselves after it.