Youth Face a Violent Society
I like to read, go to the market downtown, shop at health food stores, and exercise. I would probably do more things, but my mother doesn’t like to drive me many places. I don’t feel safe walking/biking/skating anywhere by myself.
Kristen, 15, f, Florida
Adults should not beat their juniors. Azharul, 17, m, Bangladesh
We’ve created a culture of violence since commercial TV became available in 1946, maintains Professor Michael Nagler. Kids are bombarded with violent images from television, films, video games, and rap music. Children experience violence in too many ways, in wars, as child soldiers and youth-headed militia groups (as in Nigeria’s Niger delta region where the foreign oil companies operate), as immigrants to foreign countries, in school bullying and exclusion, as the victims of murder, suicide from untreated depression, AIDS and rape (some uneducated men believe that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS), street children who commonly use drugs like glue sniffing and crack, and kids who die from lack of food, clean water and medical care.
Domestic violence is too common. In the US, at least 5 million children are either victims of or see physical abuse, domestic violence by their parents, or violence in their neighborhoods. Violence against women by their husbands or partners ranges from a low of 15% in Japan, to up to a quarter in the European Union and the US, to a high of 71% in rural Ethiopia, according to interviews with nearly 25,000 women in 10 countries by the World Health Organization in 2006. An estimated two to four million American women are abused by their partners, as are about five percent of men. These injuries are more frequent than those caused by auto accidents, rapes and muggings combined. Almost one-third of female murder victims were killed by their lovers or husbands. In the US a victim of domestic violence can call a national hotline (1-800-799-SAFE).
The victim should leave the perpetrator, as it’s unrealistic to expect him or her to change. For self-defense, women shouldn’t wear high heels so they can run. Keep keys in your hand with the keys sticking out of your fist. If attacked, hit your knee into his groin, use your head to butt the attacker, stomp on his foot, hit under the nose or chin, use your knees and elbows, and your voice–YELL. Don’t accept drinks without seeing them poured to avoid drugs that make you unconscious.
Beatrice Blake reports from El Salvador about the Community Resiliency approach being taught in El Salvador, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries as a way to bring people in touch with their inner resources. “Focusing and Nonviolent Communication trainings help communities reduce stress and work together to implement innovative ideas that come out of community needs.
Find out more at http://www.focusingnvc.com.
War happens because we fight over a scarce resource such as land, water, or oil, instead of sharing and cooperating. Human history is continued war and fighting over scarce or desired resources. Greed enters in as businesses and governments make money producing weapons and other supplies for soldiers, spending over one trillion dollars a year on the military. Countries spent over $55 billion on weapons in 2008, according to the Congressional Research Service, with the US involved in two-thirds of the sales. The US uses half of its annual discretionary spending (non-discretionary spending is for mandated Social Security, Medicare, interest on the debt, etc.) on the military and spends more on its military than all the other countries in the world combined. The amount of money countries spend on weapons would feed many of the 842 million hungry people around the world.
Some wars are fought to defend against a bully such as Hitler during World War II. Religion fuels some wars because people think their beliefs about God are right and other people are wrong. Even people with some similar basic beliefs fight each other as when Christian Protestants fight Christian Catholics in Northern Ireland and Muslim Shiites fight Muslim Sunnis in Iraq. Most of us would agree it makes no sense to say “I’m killing you in the name of the Creator who is the Father-Mother of both of us,” but religious wars have been going on for centuries.
In terms of why things are so messed up, we can think of this as a kindergarten planet. Watch kids on an elementary school playground and see how they solve conflicts. Boys are more likely to be direct—to hit and call names, while girls are more indirect—talking behind someone’s back or getting someone in trouble with the teacher. Adults may have grown up bodies but may still act like kindergartners fighting over toys or name-calling with deadly weapons. I look at life as a school for immature imperfect beings who have free will and learn slowly.
The media focus on violence; humans have always behaved both horribly and amazingly but we didn’t have CNN and the Internet to let us know how widespread our troubles are. Cruelty is learned, as abused children often develop into abusive adults. Poverty also messes up people, as when poor parents sell their children or marry off their girls.