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Home > News > PTI

Shield children from on-screen violence: experts

December 12, 2007 14:31 IST

Shocked at the first of its kind shooting in school in the country, experts on Wednesday set the alarm bells ringing, attributing such copycat killings to constant exposure of children to on-screen violence.

The exposure to undesirable behaviours like fighting, shooting and killings made children more aggressive and insensitive to pain and suffering to a considerable extent, experts said.

"Even innocent-looking cartoon characters are fighting with each other. Virtual reality is influencing children like anything. Everyday stress is only adding to it," said Vasantha R Patri, Counselling chairperson at the Indian Institute of Counselling.

Noting that juvenile crimes were on the rise in India, she said the children were exposed to a lot of violence and crime on the screen, which made them aggressive and insensitive.

Criticising media for glamourising and promoting violence, she said all kinds of violence is reported on TV continuously.

Noted psychologist Sanjay Chugh said: "Normally children tend to avert aggression, but repeated exposure to such incidents results in desensitisation of violence."

Referring to the shocking shootout in a Gurgaon school where two students pumped five bullets into another, Chugh said the incident had come as a "strong warning signal" for the society.

"If we will not learn from this, many more such incidents will take place in the future. Earlier, school shootout incidents have been reported in US. Now, it has happened in our country as well. This proves our society has moved in a wrong direction," he said.

The experts warned of more cases of "copycat killings if there is no check on the content."

"The decision-makers have to act rationally and positively to change the situation," Chugh said, "Otherwise the value-system of our society will get eroded."

Principal of Laxman Public School Usha Ram said the atmosphere at home and school played an important role in determining the psychological growth of teenagers.

"Regular parent-teacher interactions are important. They help in noticing any unnatural behaviour in the child, and to find out the reason for it and deal with it," she said.

She suggested that schools should provide adolescents with counselling and de-stressing exercises like Yoga and meditation.

Patri said the "extra freedom" given to children by parents was also causing problems.

"Today, parents are democratically raising their children and they are enjoying a lot of freedom. But often this freedom comes without responsibility," she said.

Referring to Tuesday's incident, Patri said the 14-year-old boy easily accessed a weapon and used it to allegedly shoot at his schoolmate.

"Stress-releasing exercises like sports and counseling may help to reduce juvenile criminal activities," she said.

"Interpersonal skill development programmes also can help children to communicate successfully and this will probably cut down the aggression level among them," she added.

"We should look for some buffering relationships -- parental interaction and emotional bonding -- if we want to change the situation," Chugh said.

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