Should Children Be Exposed To Violence?


When I was five years old, my parents bought a television set. It was in 1955 when TV’s became affordable for the common household in the USA.

One of the first films that I saw on it was a very scary cartoon of upright vertical accordions hopping around and squeezing down on a stage with a sound as they alternately became either shrunken or elongated in size as they jumped around the stage. Then the smallest one was eaten by the next largest in size and so on down the line to the largest one, and strange accordion music was in the background. It terrified me to see the strongest win against everyone else through the gobbling down the line with the weakest and smallest one gone first.

Around sixty years later, the same subject still disturbs me as I watch the most rapacious humans and members of other species decimate the weaker members of other species and their own whether through war, feeding habits or other means since it is the way that evolution works — to cull out the weak and compromised others – the weakest and the smallest. The vision now in time was the cartoon metaphorically turned to a real reality.

Heck, I saw it in my own mother’s death as she was taken over by vicious, voracious and hungry pneumonia germs while I leaned over her hospital bed petting her and she drew her last breath when finally being finally destroyed by the assault on her body. (They were the largest accordion symbolically.) Then I got into her hospital bed while cradling and wrapping myself around her still warm body with my own daughter, my only child, petting me from behind my form after my mother drew her last breath from the largest accordion getting her and gobbling her up.

At age five when the TV was bought, I also saw Hiroshima Maidens for reconstructive surgery in NYC, along with their host families. Talk about witnessing violence – nothing ever can beat the image of them unless they were fully severed apart bodily, which may actually have been a relief. (This is the single most prominent act of violence that I saw that, at an early age, turned me into a social and environmental activist from young childhood until now.)

Later than that year, I read this passively violent and tragic story:

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen › Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Match Girl. Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening– the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there …

I also watched on that purchased television set:

Madama Butterfly – Wikipedia

Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts (originally two) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It is based on the …

Madame Butterfly (short story) · ‎Bhikkhu · ‎Madame Chrysanthème · ‎Operabase

My parents brought me a Kleenex box as I cried while watching the horror done to the first wife of the soldier.

I, also, do not like Disney changing the original ending of The Little Mermaid due to fear of traumatizing children for having the initial true version of the tale and having a lawsuit instead of for their more pleasant filmed version. Heck, I don’t like Disney, period.

Disney, Casino Capitalism And the Exploitation of Young Boys …

Apr 21, 2009 – Printer Friendly Version. Disney, Casino Capitalism And the Exploitation of Young Boys: Beyond the Politics of Innocence. By Henry A. Giroux.

“The Mouse That Roared”: How Disney Instills Greed and Consumerism…consumerism…/1310572322

Aug 22, 2011 – [Full disclosure: Henry Giroux is a member of Truthout’s Board of … and engaging investigation of Disney and its place in consumerist America.

No, I don’t like Disney one iota, and I still do believe that exposure to violence to some degree is helpful to children, not the sanitized versions of tales that Disney can dish out.

How about seeing, as a contrast to a happy joy in a Disney movie, a pitiful leper’s colony in Trinidad when aged eleven and using your Christmas money and presents to send them to another leper’s colony in the Philippines a few years later? It was empowering as an act to me. Doing so made my identity and sense of power stronger.

How about seeing the “Bowery Bums”, the name given to the street people living next to Chinatown in NYC, USA? They were nearly starving and laid their bodies helplessly in the streets.

They made me ill to see them lying there alone on pavement, unloved and without food or shelter. So when my parents took me to Chinatown, I would beg them with all of my might and ability to convince for a dollar apiece for each one that we saw.

Thus I learned the way to force my viewpoint forward in the process since the direction in learning was a necessity for me so that I could garner those single dollar bills – one dollar apiece for each street person. Accordingly I gained a skill in avocation and solicitation from the process of plying my parents, a skill still with me today and honed even further from that point in time. Yes, it is useful for convincing others of my viewpoint.

When I was eight years old, one of the “Bowery Bums” went to a butcher’s shop for ten cents worth of meat. The alarmed butcher watched and slit his throat as the indigent person kept pulling out newspapers from inside his pants, placed there to keep him warm and insulated against the winter cold.

The police were called and, finally, as he was undressed, a dime  – ten cents – was found wrapped inside of one of his warming newspapers.

Knowing of the event at the time, at aged eight, only made me harder in being, so as to strike harder in opposition to such violence. It only made me more resourceful and stronger.

How about using the understanding of violence that I’d learned to that point to thwart bullies in fourth and fifth grades?

The worst bully that I knew was Judy P.  She was relentless in her attack upon me and another girl, who she nicknamed Carol Tinkle (from her name Carol Trunkle).

Carol stank of urine. It is true. It is because her mother was an alcoholic, who didn’t take care of Carol and Carol’s father was away as an on-the-road salesman.

Carol often wouldn’t bathe as she wasn’t helped or encouraged to do so. She also ate whatever was in the house for breakfast, such as chocolate ice cream.

After school when the yellow school bus dropped us homeward from school, my mother would take Carol into our house to feed her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and tenderly wash her face with a warm washcloth.

Judy attacked me, too. She called me Fumes (based on my maiden last name rhyming). Yet when I saw her picking her nose and eating its contents, I didn’t point it out for other boys and girls since I didn’t want to ridicule her. After all, I had learned about retaliatory violence from my very early exposure to violence.

Besides, Judy’s anger for the world came from a very realistic spot. She was being raised by a black-skinned maid and her two parents would only see her once a day for a half hour after they alone, as psychiatrists, had eaten dinner with only each other together to discuss their individual cases with each other.

At such a time each night, Judy would be dressed by the maid in pretty clothes and have her hair brushed. Then she would be presented to the parents. How unloving and no wonder that Judy took out her anger and fury on the rest of the world! Yes, she had displaced anger!

I know of a woman that refused to let her daughter see the demise of her own mother in a nursing home. So the child had no relationship to her grandmother unlike my own daughter, who tenderly supported her own grandmother and great-grandmother unto death while also learning about aging facts.

Yes, watching them sink into gradual death is hard, but there is a lesson learned. It is about compassion and resistance against violence, even the violence of a difficult death and learning the ways to confront it as well as one can.

So my daughter resisted any impulse to flee the role of bringing compassion and goodness.

This is totally opposite to the woman, who refused to let her child see her own mother in a nursing home since it might be “too disturbing” a sight.

Well, how else do you teach children about aging, dying and death? How else do you teach them values like kindness, such as my own daughter showed when we would visit my own grandmother, extremely debilitated, and I mean extremely, until she died at two months short of a hundred years old? How else do we teach them to be full, forceful and caring humans?

So I am, in an extremely offhand way, thankful for the violence (although I would never want it) since it taught me realistic ways to look at the world, cope in good ways (such as in the death of a parent) and be strong in abnegation of wrongness overall. It also taught me to pass my learning onward to others like my daughter and further people.

Realistically the violence that I saw on the television prepared me to respond in appropriate ways to the real violence that I faced in life. It taught me not to have a happy-happy Disney view of life, nor to accept the violence that Disney exposes. Instead, it taught me to rise to be my best self.

So all the same, I’m happy because this unacceptable and unstoppable violence that I have witnessed since being a little girl and whether on TV or in real life has prepared me to deal with it as best as I can. Without that awareness, I would be ignorant and helpless in terms of dealing with it, which I am not due to a long unwanted exposure to its misery.

Do you think that I liked exposure to Machiavelli’s views as a child, the TV violence (including on news reports and in cartoons) as a child or the ones that I witnessed around me in daily life? No, of course not, but they prepared me to serve an alternative way forward. They forced me to take a stand and I can do it so well since I have known violence for a very long time.

All the same, feel free to sign this petition from my friend Heidi concerning violence in Disney movies at

It’s your choice to sign or not. Meanwhile, teach any children that you may have to identify and confront violence. This is the best way that they can survive it when bullied or later-on in life and thwart it!

You should see my older sister. She’s ten times me at identifying and confronting violence, and addressing it with fierce power and purpose. She’s like a fiend out of Hell when she sees it. Watch her rush at it when she confronted the unknown teens: The Good Sister, A Model For US All! | Countercurrents

Yet we are only so capable as we both are since we saw violence early-on on television and in real life. We aren’t any Eloi in a peace-loving and apathetic society since we learned about ugliness and struggled hard to find useful ways to push back…

Eloi – Wikipedia

The Eloi are one of the fictional two post-human races in H. G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine. Contents. [hide]. 1 In H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine; 2 In …

Home world‎: ‎Earth

Kind‎: ‎Humanoid

First appearance‎: ‎The Time Machine

Created by‎: ‎H. G. Wells

So instead we are ready and primed starting in early childhood when we first saw violence and started to attack against it as little children and onward to now in time to stymie its assault in the world around us. … So maybe it is good to be exposed to it as children since they will learn to fight like hell to protect other children like Carol Tinkle, will stop at nothing to stop teens from possibly murdering another one as my sister did and, then, keep going forward due to early exposure to awful violence partly shaping one’s direction in life and sense of identity.

Personally I like the violence knowledge since I can’t avoid the ugliness that I saw since being a young child. So watch my sister and me push back with all might and capable strength that we developed over the years to exposure to it.

I’m glad to have learned to do so as a result of early this exposure onward since our world is definitely filled with violence. Then watch the behaviors that we early learners about the topic can bring forth out of ourselves rather than as ignoramus children – ones not shown violence.

Trust my view. There is nothing that can surpass my sister and I in assaulting violence as we understand the crux of the matter from the very early days of our lives.

Of course, I don’t like violence, but since it exists I’m glad that I learned about it as a young child and onward. I’m glad that my sister did, too, because it taught us patterns to be forces with which to be reckoned with full force and fury out of ourselves, something that all children need to learn to be and do.

My daughter, a long-distance runner as a child, would practice running in my neighborhood. We got permission for her to carry a mace can in her pocket while running from the local police station and she gained from learning about violence to protect herself.

She would not, then, become the little boy who was lured into a car in our town and taken away by a strange man from whom he escaped at a red traffic light signal. She would not become the little girl in our town whose body was dumped in the woods.

Now she is a school guidance counselor and teaches children to protect themselves from bullying amongst other job duties. So I would think that my exposing her to violence has been helpful as she passes the understandings that I’d gained forward to yet another generation of children. (She bitterly cried as a little girl when I taught her about stranger dangers.)

Here, look at my sister’s might since she learned at my side when we were children and as adults:

She’s something else for sure. One day driving down a four laned highway to take her teenage daughter to a soccer game in which the child was involved, she saw two teen boys on the opposite side of the highway kicking, punching and hitting another boy in the grass.

So she turned her car around, brought it to their location, locked its doors and told the boys that her daughter locked in the car had a cell phone to call police if commanded to do so. Then she told them to stop.

Scared of her force and the severe look on her face, they did so. Then she followed one of them home after having checked that the injured boy was okay and not in need of medical help beyond her initial first aid assessment.

She wanted to know whether either of his parents were home. Not finding them so, she talked to the boy about accruing a criminal record and his luck that she, wife of a prison director, had intervened when she did so to prevent him from making a big mistake.

She explained some assault facts that scared him. I bet that he won’t in some sort of rage towards another person do something stupid again.

So her daughter was late to a soccer game. Who cares? The gain was worth the cost in time in my opinion. … Yes, we learn about what to do from early exposure to violence since the violence, itself, is unavoidable.

My daughter, as a guidance counselor, teaches anti-bullying curriculum across her school, as mentioned. How does she know about it? Look at her past:

Jocks in her school were publicly endorsing the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and making revoltingly racist remarks about particular dark skinned people on campus. This went on for several days and my daughter thought, during that time, about the difference between tattling on someone and alerting adults when something is dangerous.

During the process, she decided that their statements WERE dangerous to the community at large. Mulling it all over further, she finally decided to neither let their behavior off the hook, nor tell about it to school officials. Instead, she decided to directly confront them.

So, with butterflies in her stomach and weak shaky knees, she strolled up to them and looked them calmly in the eyes. Then, in a voice brimming with disdain and anger, she forcefully declared that she found their bigoted remarks destructive to the school at large and personally repugnant in the highest degree. As such, she would turn them into the principal if they didn’t desist immediately since their focus was highly damaging to every single person in their school.

Shocked at the quiet and absolute conviction that she exuded, they never mentioned KKK another time in public — at least not of which she knew. At the same time, she started to develop quite a little reputation, amongst other boys and girls, as someone to whom they could turn for advise when some situation seemed unfair. As such, this one action that she’d undertaken had an sort of ripple effect in her school. It indirectly changed the outcomes in other future incidents.

In addition, she joined the Gay/Straight Alliance Club as the only heterosexual person who had the courage to sign up due to anyone who did getting immediately branded as a homosexual or lesbian. However, she felt that the small snubbed group needed support. Besides she wasn’t worried about the label in that the few students to whom she felt closest, all felt the way that she did about these sorts of matters.

My daughter was by no means perfect when standing against the norm. After all, she caved when it came to buying expensive fashionable clothes and in following other trends in order to fit in with the prevailing crowd’s mentality. As such, maybe life was, in the end, all about one acting with courage based on principles when one felt an absolute imperative to do so. However, it might be otherwise OK to slide, slide with “the little stuff.”

In this vein, she felt that it was OK to not be a stickler on the less significant matters — the ones that counted not so much. After all, one didn’t want to be a total outsider when it came to conformity to one’s cohorts and society in general.

Meanwhile, my daughter had developed some orientation towards independent thought and behaviors early onward. In fact, I always tried to involve her in decisions about her own life — encouraging her to try different ways to go about reaching her goals as long as nothing that she proposed was unsafe or detrimental.

Every act of violence that my sister, my daughter and I are aware of happening sharpens and toughens us. Because we can’t avoid the ugliness, I’m glad that we each learned at an early age to go after it with the full impact of our beings that we can bring to bear while we all keep improving with age to address its wrongs.

Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems. 

Gever Tulley

The fact is that you have to be exposed to and identify violence before being able to confront it. So since it exists all around us, please teach your children to be up to the task, too! Start them young, I suggest. Then you will serve them well so they can register, react to and in a self-empowering way stand up against viciousness in the ways that my sister, my daughter and I can bring forth from our longstanding understanding of violence. Yes, teach your children well!

Teach the children well ( with lyrics) – Crosby Stills – YouTube

Sally Dugman is a writer from MA, USA.


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