Are Parents to Blame?
While TV, movies, video games, and music are powerful influences, they're hardly an unstoppable force. If adults modeled healthy ways of handling anger, they'd give kids positive messages that counteract pop-culture toxins. But here's the rub: "Many adults are bolstering harmful media models," says Alan Kazdin, Ph.D., director of the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. "People tend to be more stressed out and have shorter fuses than in the past, triggering public displays of aggressiveness." Kids are witnessing road rage and watching on TV as sports fans attack players and vice versa.
The scenario -- adults erupting in rage over minor differences -- also takes place on children's playing fields. It's no longer a shock to hear about a father in Texas shooting a high school coach after his son was kicked off the team or a parent in Massachusetts banned from local youth-hockey games for grabbing and yelling at an 8-year-old player.