Parents in Action: Saving our sons from a culture of violence

It's no secret that violence and violent images permeate our society. Boys are continually saturated with this distorted version of manhood from television and movies, video games, the Internet, peers, coaches and other adults. Because of this constant bombardment of false information boys have been warped to think that they must be strong, aggressive, tough, in control, and repress their feelings.

It's important to understand that violent male behavior may stem from the perpetrator's fear that he isn't behaving aggressively enough. However, the behavior that is associated with girls (actions that demonstrate empathy, sensitivity and compassion) are also natural male traits. They are simply not recognized as such in many societies.

Here are some ways you can help combat this culture of violence in your children.

Combating violence at school.
•    Encourage your son's teacher to create a class constitution with the help of the students, detailing how they should treat one another. Ask teachers to read and discuss exciting tales that promote noble and brave qualities of heroes who help others.
•    Have your kids participate in different programs and clubs where they can interact with people of different faiths, nationalities, and races, to learn the commonality of humanity.

Combating violence at home.
•    Monitor your son's exposure to violence as much as possible and provide nonviolent games and activities. Encourage your son to hang out with friends who enjoy less-violent games.
•    Taking care of a pet not only teaches a boy responsibility, but through playing and loving an animal like a puppy, he'll learn about the sanctity of all life. Caring for a pet will make him less likely to mistreat an animal.

Combating violence in the community.
•    To increase your son's compassionate nature, it would be good sometimes to do activities with your son that help people, animals, and the environment, such as planting trees or cleaning up trash in your community. Volunteer to help out in a hospital, nursing home, or animal shelter. If you have carpentry skills, you and your son could help a neighbor, friend or relative fix up their house or your own house.
•    Expose your son to the arts and increase your son's respect for Mother Nature by visiting an orchard, or nursery, spending time at a lake, river, or the ocean, or gardening.

Help your son understand the causes for society's negativity toward gentleness in males and talk with your son about all of the positive aspects of being a compassionate boy. Once this generation learns that love and compassion for all living beings is the most important value, there will be a veritable leap in consciousness on the planet.


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