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Parent Action Kit

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This easy-to-read guide includes three folders, each containing a section on What You Should Know and What You Can Do. The Kit gives guidance for selecting age-appropriate, nonviolent toys and games; suggests helpful books and organizations; and provides tips for resolving family conflicts peacefully.

 Here is a list of the topics covered in each section of the Kit:

"T" is for Television,
"V" is for Violence

Simple Things Parents Can Do to Protect Children from Media Violence

Violent Toys Are Not
Child's Play

Transforming Children's War Chests Back into Toy Chests

Resolving Family Conflicts Peacefully

Handling Conflicts and Anger at Home and on the Playground

Part One includes:

Violent Children's Entertainment: Just Good Clean Fun?

How Young Children Learn to Be Violent

Killing as Entertainment: The Lessons of Violent Video Games

"I Grew Up Watching Westerns, and I'm Not a Mass Murderer": Why Should I Worry About What My Children Watch?

Who Says TV Is too Violent? A Family Quiz Game on Media Violence

Plugging In the "P" Chip: How Parents Can Take Charge of the Television Set

How to Talk with Young Children About TV Violence

Creating New Rules, and Sticking with Them

Things to Do When You Hear "I'm Bored!"

Resources: Books, Organizations and Quality Children's Videos

Part Two includes:

How Do Your Children Play? A Quick Home Inventory

Before Buying Toys: Some Questions to Consider

I Don't Buy Violent Toys - But What If My Children Make Their Own?

The Merchants of Violence: Pandering to Pint-Sized Consumers

Now Rules for Violent Toys

Dealing with Violent Toys Outside Your Home

Ideas for Parent Groups

Ideas for Religious Groups

Finding Books and Toys for Peaceful Play

Part Three includes:

Who Will Teach the Children About Nonviolence?

Between Parent and Child: Tips for Managing Conflict

When Children Fight: What's a Parent to Do?

Dealing with Anger: No Laughing Matter

What About Discipline? Some Questions to Consider

Things to Say When You're Feeling Angry

Intervening on Behalf of Children: Some Options

Helping Your Community Improve the Lives of Children

Dealing with Bullies

Creating a Peaceful Home: A Bibliography for Parents and Stories for Children

Introduction to
Part One
Introduction to
Part Two
Introduction to
Part Three

Order a Parent Action Kit

An Introduction to the Parent Action Kit

Part 1 - "T" is for Television, "V" is for Violence:
Simple Things Parents Can Do to Protect Children from Media Violence.

oes television violence really affect children's behavior? The answer to this question is a resounding YES.

Hundreds of studies in more than a dozen countries have all come to the same conclusion: Children who watch violent television programs behave more aggressively than children who do not.

Within the scientific community, there is no longer any debate about this relationship. Three major national studies reviewed hundreds of individual studies "to arrive at the irrefutable conclusion that viewing violence increases violence" (Report of the American Psychological Association Commission on Violence and Youth, 1992).

The three comprehensive national studies, spanning a period of more than 25 years, were conducted by:

  • The Surgeon General's Commission in 1972

  • The National Institute of Mental Health in 1982

  • The American Psychological Association in 1992.

This last report concluded that "children's exposure to violence in the mass media, particularly at young ages, can have harmful lifelong consequences."

But how is television violence different from the violence that has always existed -- say in Bible stories or in fairy tales? There are some important differences:

  • The sheer number of acts of violence on television far outstrips those in any story.

  • Television includes a visual component. Not only do you hear about the violent action, you SEE it.

  • Television is an integral part of children's everyday lives and mixes real scenes with imaginary ones. It is impossible for children to determine when "story time" ends and real life begins.

This section of the Parent Action Kit contains summaries of some of the key research studies regarding television violence and its effect on children -- so you can come to your own conclusions.

This folder also includes:

  • a family quiz game on media violence

  • suggestions for minimizing the amount of violent television your children watch

  • a list of activities for TV-free hours

  • suggested resource books and information about how to find quality, nonviolent children's videos.

Many of the issues discussed here also apply to violence in movies, on computer and video games, at arcade parlors, and on the Internet. You can adapt the suggestions in the What You Can Do section to deal with any of these other media.

Part 2 - Violent Toys are not Children's Play:
Transforming Children's War Chests Back into Toy Chests.

f you are concerned about violent toys and how they affect your children's behavior, this section of the Parent Action Kit is for you.

Here you will find some basic information about the relationship between children, toys, and aggression; resources for finding games and toys that promote positive values; and suggestions for dealing with violent toys.

Growing numbers of parents are finding that when children have violent toys such as swords, toy guns, and action figures, they play violently.

The toy industry itself, in a publication called Toys and Play published by the Toy Manufacturers of America, states that play is "the way children learn about themselves, their environment, and the people around them.... Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns, and play by the rules are all important skills learned in early games. It is through imaginative play that the child begins to learn some of the roles and rules of society."

What roles and rules do violent toys teach children? What lessons do children learn when playing with a toy gun? What values are promoted by "action" figures?

This section of the Parent Action Kit will help you answer these questions for yourself by providing:

  • a list of questions to consider before buying toys

  • a checklist for observing what your own children learn from their toys

  • suggestions for reducing the number of violent toys in your home

  • and other resources.

Part 3 - Resolving Family Conflicts Peacefully:
Handling Conflicts and Anger at Home and on the Playground.

eaching children how to deal with conflict is one of the most difficult things a parent is ever called upon to do. This is because, when learning about conflict, children really do learn from what we do -- not from what we say.

If our own style is angry or confrontational, our children are unlikely to learn to resolve their conflicts in a positive way. If we are serious about raising peaceful children, we need to learn to become more peaceful parents. For most of us, this is an enormous challenge -- especially if we did not have good role models in our own lives.

But in a nation that is becoming increasingly dangerous and violent, it is crucial for parents to teach their young children skills and behaviors that avoid (rather than provoke) a violent response to conflict.

The American Psychological Association has concluded that violence is a learned behavior, and it is learned very early in life.

Of course, children have a unique personality from birth, and some behave more aggressively than others. But it is up to adults to teach children that aggression is not the best way to solve problems and that aggressive behavior will not be tolerated.

Teaching children how to deal constructively with conflict -- be it with a friend, a sibling, a classmate, or a parent -- is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give them. In moments of crisis, it might even save their lives!

This portion of the Parent Action Kit aims to help you improve some of your own skills in managing conflicts. In addition, it provides some suggestions for helping your children with problem-solving skills.

This kit is just a beginning. The resources listed in this folder can give you much more information and support.

Changing old habits is not easy. It takes time -- in fact, lots of time. A behavior pattern that took months or years to establish could take even longer to change. So don't be surprised if some of the methods presented here don't work the first or second time you try them. Be patient with your children, your partner, and -- most of all -- with yourself.

The Lion & Lamb Project