|Social Interventions: Countering Violence
Children and youth can be exposed to violence on television, at home, at school, and in sports programs. Not surprisingly, the more violence they are exposed to, the more likely they are to exhibit aggressive behaviour themselves. This was the conclusion of a report authored by the Canadian Council on Social Development, in collaboration with Family Services Canada.1
The report found strong evidence that parents who exercise discipline over their children's media habits significantly decrease the negative effects of television violence. Many parents, however, do not do so.
The study found that over 40% of parents said they had no rules whatsoever about how much television their children could watch, and only slightly more than one-third of parents "always" or "often" used TV rating systems to help determine which programs their children could watch. Likewise, only 36% of parents had installed filters on their Internet system – even though 69% of parents thought that schools should do so.
The report also pointed out a number of other ways in which parents, schools and other institutions can intervene to avoid the development of childhood aggression and other negative developmental outcomes that result from exposure to violence.
It examined earlier studies showing that pressures associated with sports activities can also produce aggressive behaviour in children – and adults are frequently to blame. From a role-modelling perspective, if a coach pushes players to "win at all costs" or a parent harangues a referee, it sends a clear message to children that this type of aggression is acceptable. Parents and coaches can play a critical role in countering violence by taking a less aggressive approach when encouraging youth in sports.
Likewise, parents and educators can decrease children's exposure to violence by discarding their assumptions that bullying is just a normal part of growing up. Many schools are now taking action and developing effective anti-bullying programs, often with the participation of parents. Some examples of successful anti-bullying projects were profiled in "Sticks and Stones," in the Preventing Crime through Social Development Bulletin No. 7, and in the NCPC's Building Safer Communities Newsletter #7.
Of course, the most damaging exposure to violence is child abuse committed by parents themselves. For more information on the impact of family violence and ways to prevent it, see Positive Parenting.
Other Social Interventions
Early Childhood Education
Special Needs Programming
1Roberts, Paul. Canadian Children's Exposure to Violence: What it Means for Parents. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development and Family Service Canada, 2003.