By Lauren Kross, AmeriCorps Member for Take Ten
Yesterday, as I bought my groceries at the store, I walked past the card aisle to see about 15 people crowded around the same section of cards. Pinks and reds, flowers and balloons, x’s and o’s—they all fill the stores each year prior to February 14. Kids are allowed to bring in valentines and goodies for their classmates. We teach kids to show up at school prepared for Valentine’s Day. As adults, we either a) forget about this day altogether, b) celebrate with our significant other, or c) commemorate the day with family and friends. The one thing that amazes me about this holiday is the fact that television producers and radio commentators continue to produce images and sounds of violence. One of the top stories on Good Morning America was regarding a murdering case about cheerleading and jealousy. All of the radio stations played songs about revenge, hate, and violence. Although this is a day for love and most of our day is filled with the images Valentine’s Day is intended to portray, violence continues to infiltrate our minds.
Working with Take Ten has opened my eyes to how prominent violence is in our culture today. Our daily intake of violence can be intended or accidental. Often, we worry about the people who intentionally watch violent television shows, play violent video games, commit violent acts, and/or listen to violent music. However, we rarely lend attention to those who accidentally experience violence–the commercials, previews, online advertisements, and music genres that do not have a primary focus on violence. Both the intentional and accidental experiencers need skills to combat the popularity of violence.
Teaching Take Ten each week has allowed me to reach out to youth regarding violence. Many of these kids experience violence in school, at home, through the media, and in the community. Many of these same kids do not know how to deal with violence or resolve their conflicts non-violently. Oftentimes, kids respond to violence with emotions ranging from sadness to laughter. Cartoons that use violence may inspire humor. Rumors spreading around the school may inspire anger. Although these outlets of violence are very different, Take Ten can help kids understand how to deal with both. Because these students receive mixed messages about violence, it is important for volunteers to teach their students that violence should never be a solution to a conflict. If kids utilize the skills learned through Take Ten, they have the power to change the violent society in which we live. The youth of today are the future so it is our job, as adults, to instill a philosophy of peace and healthy conflict resolution despite the culture of violence.