On-screen violence desensitizes young people

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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With all the violence now found by simply inserting a disc in a home entertainment device, or through online/social media videos, and even on TV and in movie theaters, is it any wonder that we’re seeing an increase in the number of violent crimes committed by young people?

Yes, it’s a fact that a greater number of youngsters haven’t stooped to that level of depravity, but those who have seem to not have a care in the world that they have not only taken a life or seriously injured someone, but have injected long-term mental anguish into the friends and families of their victims.

These juvenile terrorists are incapable of separating what they see on a video or movie screen from real life. The video features digital characters who manage to survive the onslaught of bullets. It doesn’t work that way in real life…with real bullets fired from real weapons by real people at real victims. In those real life scenarios, victims do not magically get up and resume their daily activities. Rather, a real ambulance transports them to a real hospital. In some cases, those victims really die.

And for those who pulled the trigger, if they are caught, their life is over. They will spend out their days in a prison. Their family members will grieve as well.

Despite living in a rural area, we are not isolated from such acts of violence.

Last month, a Murfreesboro woman died after being shot while operating her vehicle on Boone Farm Road in the Union community of Hertford County. She wasn’t the intended target.

That led to the arrest of 23-year-old and an unnamed 16-year-old juvenile, both of Ahoskie. Both are charged with first-degree murder in the death of 54-year-old Angie Britt. All she was doing that day was transporting three young members of her family back to Murfreesboro when a vehicle came up behind hers and fired several shots. Britt was the only one struck.

Do you see what I mean that these young thugs do not have a care in the world for anybody. They were apparently seeking to inflict bodily harm on someone in that vehicle, so they opened fire, even knowing there were innocent people inside, including Britt and two children (ages 8 and 10). What type of person does that? How do they sleep at night knowing that one or more of those bullets could have struck and killed those innocent children?

And these torrid tales abound elsewhere in our state.

Two teens, an 18-year-old male and a 14-year-old female, went missing on Sept. 16 in Orange County. Their deceased bodies were found a couple of days later by an ATV rider.

Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced two days later that a petition had been filed against a 17-year-old male in connection to the deaths. That teen, as of this past weekend, remains at large.

On Sunday, WRAL-TV reported that four Wilmington teenagers have been charged with murder after an 18-year-old male died Friday (Sept. 23) after being shot at an apartment complex.

Two of the alleged shooters are 18-years-old. The other two are 16.

On Sept. 21, WRAL-TV reported that two teens, ages 14 and 17, stand charged with shooting and killing two other teens (both age 16) in Graham on Aug. 25.

A couple of days earlier, two teenage girls in Rocky Mount were struck by gunfire. Neither was seriously injured, but Rocky Mount Police officers found shell casings in the 1600 block of South Church Street (off US 301 Business) as well as bullet holes in a nearby home.

Meanwhile, another murder of an Orange County teenager (age 17) in late June led to the arrest of a 22-year-old and a juvenile.

While I support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, I’m totally in favor of writing and enforcing stricter laws when it comes to keeping weapons out of the hands of children. Some of that “enforcement” starts at home where parents/guardians need to keep their legal weapons safely and securely from winding up in the hands of children/teens.

I cringed in my shoes when I read a story earlier this month about Suffolk, VA police responding to Oakland Elementary School where a handgun was found in the possession of a first grade student. I don’t want to think about what could have unfolded in that situation had the child pulled out the weapon to show it off to their classmates.

According to WAVY- TV 10’s website, a preliminary investigation of the incident revealed that a household member of the first-grader placed the handgun in the student’s backpack and it was never removed which led to the student bringing the firearm on school grounds.

Police say the weapon was not brandished or pointed at any individual during the incident.

The next day, 27-year-old Keydran Leary was served with multiple warrants, including allowing access to firearms by children, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless handling of a firearm.

I recently read another story where EMTs responded to a drug overdose call (I don’t recall where it happened). Upon the EMTs arrival, they found an unresponsive woman slumped over. On a nearby table was an open bag of drugs and a loaded handgun…and an unattended 18-month-old child.

So…yea….adults need to do their part as well in keeping innocent children safe.

In the meantime, can we admit there’s a link between the extreme violence depicted in videos, and on TV and the movies, and the violent acts of some young people.

According to the American Psychological Association, 97% of adolescents age 12–17 play video games on a computer or console or on portable devices nearly every day.

A review conducted in 2010 by psychologist Craig A. Anderson and others concluded that “the evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.” Anderson’s earlier research showed that playing violent video games can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior both in laboratory settings and in daily life.

Like I said at the outset, these children are desensitized by what they see and hear. That unfortunately leads to the potential for aggression, which leads to pain, suffering, and in some extreme cases, death.

When do we put an end to these seemingly never-ending tragic stories of violent acts committed by young people, especially when we are aware of the root cause of the evil?

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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