Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Little Boys and Violence: What I Think

Seems like I've unleashed a bit of a firestorm. At a recent lecture in suburban New York City, I was talking about changes in schools that I think are hurting boys. One of those changes I frequently cite is our new and ubiquitous "zero-tolerance for fantasy violence" policies in schools -- the ones that create punishments for little boys who point their forefinger, bend their thumb and mouth "Pew! Pew!"

Teachers have to create classroom environments that are good for all kinds of children. I get it. But when you look at the research, what you find is that people who study boy psychology say perfectly normal little boys -- boys WHO ARE NOT GOING TO GROW UP TO BE COLUMBINE TYPE SHOOTERS -- think, play and fantasize around violence.

But many parents (self-included) and many teachers misunderstand it. Many parents (self included) spend a lot of time trying to get our sons to "turn that gun into a wand" and what we communicate to them is that what they are on the inside, what goes on in their head, is unacceptable to us. And I'm thinking we aren't helping our sons like this. If I'm being intellectually consistent, then it occurs to me that the same might go for video games. I don't love Halo. I don't love my kids playing it. But maybe those games are appealing to the natural fantasy lives of boys and we (parents, teachers) should stop being so righteously indignant about tell our sons those games are bad and they are bad for being obsessed with them

Said so in person. Said so in this article
What do you think?


OpenID caterader said...

I couldn't agree more. When my kids were in preschool they had a splash day and were suppose to be dressed for water games, etc. My boys took their squirt guns with them. When we walked in the door they were quickly chided for it and told that the school doesn't allow "weapons" to be brought in. It still makes me mad when I think about it 10 years later. The message being sent to boys these days is that they should be ashamed of having normal boy thoughts and's so messed up!

February 20, 2009 at 10:45 AM  

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