Dr. Michael J. Bradley
|Volume 3, Number 3
|BUMMER OF A SUMMER IS WAKEUP CALL TO PARENTS
already been a bad summer for teenagers here in Philadelphia.
First, one kid was lured to a vacant lot with the
promise of sex from his new “girlfriend.” Instead,
she and two friends beat that kid to death to get
his money to buy drugs. The 14-year-old “girlfriend”
told police that she was so surprised that killing
someone could be “like, such a rush, you know?”
weeks later and ten miles away, one very brave and
lucky cop apprehended three teenagers as they were
heading out on a mass murder spree. That lone cop
confronted three boys who turned out to be carrying
rifles, shotguns, handguns, and enough ammunition
to take Baghdad.
is all this happening? The newspapers have been filled
with outraged adults yelling about the music and video
games that are turning an epidemic number of today’s
teens into tomorrow’s killers. Apparently agreeing,
the District attorney prosecuting the Columbine-wannabes
has confiscated the video games of these self-proclaimed
“Warriors of Freedom.” In fact, both crimes are
extreme versions of two popular video games.
But truth be told, the teen violence epidemic has
nothing to do with those video games. Because,
in fact, there is no epidemic of teen violence.
violence has been steadily dropping over the past
decade to a point where teenagers are now half
as murderous as their parents were as teens.
Yet these same teens obsessively play video games
that are proven to promote aggression among
certain kids. The key to this apparent contradiction
turns out to be the key to saving all of our children,
violent or not. That key is connection;
and it’s something every parent needs to know about.
few kids who do get pulled toward the dark side by
music and games are children who are not connected
to adults who they respect, admire, and want to emulate.
Conversely, kids who play those horrible games all
day long yet never raise a finger in anger...those
kids all report having adults around them who they
respect and admire. Kids call these people “Adults
who act like grownups.” In other words, teens need
to be able to hang around the house and prattle endlessly
and stupidly to an adult who’s willing to listen endlessly
and patiently to whatever the teen has to say. Because
forming that connection truly is the secret
to growing good people.
the news stories out of Philadelphia this summer are
terrifying. But in these stories is a message for
all parents of teens that should encourage you to
channel your fear into positive action. Reach out
to the adolescent holed up in the basement who seems
so hard to relate to, who seems to push you away at
every opportunity. Be like the great salesperson that
takes rejection a hundred times, yet keeps trying
again and again. Your kid may mock you for it. Your
kid may secretly love you for it. But either way,
your kid will ultimately be safer because of it.
I look forward to hearing your views and experiences
this summer in my online parenting forum.
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Editor’s Note: To
share your parenting issues, or to get Dr. Bradley's professional
advice, please click
here to visit Dr. Bradley’s Online Parenting Forum.