When Violence is a Good Thing + Communication for Changing Families

Tim Larkin, co-author of How to Survive the Most Critical 5 Seconds of Your Life.
The importance of using violence to defend against violence.
Issues: Antisocial vs. Asocial violence; when to engage; fight or flight; why you must learn to cause major injury; violence as the ultimate survival tool; overcoming the stigma of violence; the difference between competition-based martial arts and what you must do to survive; what to do when you don’t have a choice.

Samantha Rodman, author of How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce.
Healthy, effective communication techniques for your changing family.
Issues: Types of divorcing families; initiating honest conversations where your children can express their thoughts; how emotions work; validate your children’s feelings, making them feel acknowledged and secure; differences between amicable, strained, and hostile divorces; strengthening and deepening your relationship with your kids.

Spanking Gets Results: But All the Wrong Kinds

mrdad - spanking - wikicommons

mrdad - spanking - wikicommonsDear Mr. Dad: I was over at a friend’s house and was surprised to see her spanking her 4-year old. I’ve never hit any of my kids and don’t have any plans to do so. But after taking an informal poll of other parents I know, I was surprised to find that I’m actually in the minority. Should I rethink my no-spanking policy?

 A: Please don’t. There’s some debate about whether an actual majority of parents spank their children. For example, one study found that while 62 percent of parents in the South admit to having spanked their children, only 41 percent of parents in the rest of the country have. And according to a recent study done by researchers at Columbia University, 57 percent of moms and 40 percent of dads engaged in spanking when their children were three years old, and 52 percent of moms and 33 percent of dads were still spanking when their kids were five. But let’s not quibble over semantics. The point is that way, way too many parents are hitting their children—and it needs to stop.

I know I’m going to hear from a lot of readers who will swear up and down that spanking works. And they’re right. Spanking definitely gets the child’s attention and will usually get him or her to immediately do what you say. That’s great in the moment, but what about future moments?

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Is Call of Duty better than The Sims?

There’s a lot of research out there showing that playing video games actually benefits kids (and adults) in a variety of ways. But what about action games? The media and politicians love to criticize action games, claiming that they make players violent. But new research from the University of Rochester may put an end to that discussion. It turns out that violent action games (like Call of Duty) are actually better in many ways than playing calmer games (like The Sims).

The following is an excerpt from a press release from the University about this fascinating study.

A new study shows for the first time that playing action video games improves not just the skills taught in the game, but learning capabilities more generally.

“Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners,” explained Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “And they become better learners,” she said, “by playing the fast-paced action games.”
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Gun Violence Has Tripled in PG-13 Movies

A study in Pediatrics has found violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and the presence of gun violence in PG-13-rated films has more than tripled since the rating was introduced in 1985. The study, “Gun Violence Trends in Movies,” in the December 2013 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 11), analyzed a sample of the top-grossing films for each of the years from 1950 to 2012. Trained analysts coded each film for the presence of violence and guns during each 5-minute segment of the movie. Researchers found an overall annual increase in gun violence from 1985 to 2012, but the trend differed by movie rating. Among films rated G and PG, gun violence decreased slightly. The rate of gun violence did not change for R-rated movies. Among films rated PG-13, gun violence increased, and since 2009, PG-13 movies have contained as much or more violence than R-rated movies. The study authors conclude that even if youth do not use guns, because of the increasing popularity of PG-13 movies, they are exposed to considerable gun portrayal and violence, which may increase their aggressive behavior.

Violence and Gun Control: More Evidence That Too Many Schools Aren’t Clear on the Concept

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about gun control and a number of cases where children had been expelled or charged with crimes for bringing “weapons” to school. In one case, the instruments of violence were plastic toy soldiers; in another, a boy had chewed a pastry into the shape of a gun. I was hoping that we’d heard the last of these cases of good intentions gone completely crazy.

  • In a variation on gun control run amok, a 10-year-old California boy was suspended and threatened with expulsion after he brought a Swiss Army Knife on a week-long school school camping trip. Tony Bandermann told Fox News that his son Braden was on a science camping trip with his class at Garden Gate Elementary School in Cupertino. According to a school incident report, the boy showed the small knife to other students who then reported him to teachers. The incident report stated that law enforcement was also notified. However, no charges were filed. Bandermann, who was out-of-town on a business trip, said he received a telephone call from the school’s principal informing him that his son had violated the school’s weapons policy. The punishment, she told him, must be immediate and severe. “She threatened to expel him,” he said. “She kept telling me, ‘you can’t bring a weapon to school.’ A Swiss Army Knife is a tool not a weapon.” Since he was unable to pick up his son, the principal put the boy in 24-hour isolation at the camp – held in a teacher’s lounge where he was forced to eat and sleep in solitude. This story originally appeared here:
  • While not actually an issue of gun control, a Massachusetts middle school student was suspended after she brought a butter knife to school so she could cut a pear. Melissa LaPlaume told MyFoxBoston that her daughter was simply trying to cut her fruit for lunch because she has braces and can’t take bites out of the whole fruit. The vice-principal of Wamsutta Middle School said they were following the handbook rules—which ban knives—and suspended 13-year old Morgan. The story first appeared here
  • Back to gun control. A five-year-old Massachusetts boy could be suspended from elementary school after he built a gun out of Legos during an after-school program. The parents of Joseph Cardosa received a letter advising them that their son had used toys inappropriately. A second violation would result in a two-week suspension. The boy is a student at Hyannis West Elementary School. “While someone might think that making a Lego gun is just an action of a 5-year-old – to other 5-year-olds that might be a scary experience,” a school spokesperson told MyFoxBoston.com. “We need a safe environment for our students.”

More gun control, anyone?

Corporal Punishment in Schools? Spare the Rod. Period.

corporal punishment should be banned

Dear Mr. Dad: My 9-year old son has been complaining a lot recently about how much he hates school. We had a long talk about it and he completely stunned me when he told me that the principal of his school has paddled his behind several times. I know my son can be challenging sometimes, but I thought corporal punishment in schools had been outlawed long ago. How is this even possible?

A: And just when I’d thought I’d put all those unpleasant grade-school memories to rest… Nationwide, more than 60 percent of American parents approve of spanking children—and half admit that they actually do it (that’s the average—the percentages are higher in the South, and lower in the rest of the country). However, more than 70 percent of parents (65 percent in the South)—and 80 percent of parents of grade-schoolers—say it shouldn’t be happening in schools at all. But it is.
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