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American kids are becoming less violent according to a recent study coming out of the University of New Hampshire. The study states a series of phone surveys conducted in 2003, 2008, and 2011 asked people whether or not their children have been exposed to or been perpetrators of violence. Assault, both sexual and physical, and bullying were shown to have significant drops of around one third in all areas. With school shootings in the news, and other horror stories of violence, how could this be?
The issue is mainly psychological according to NBC news. More and more children are opting for internet verses head to head confrontation which has led to a rash of new problems and the creation of a new buzzword “cyberbullying”. School yard fights are now mostly a thing of the past. Instead, a kid can go home and antagonize in mass without having to face anyone in the moment. Cyberbullying, while not as violent as assault, can still have devastating side effects on a child’s psyche and can even lead to much bigger problems, or even confrontations down the road.
Another factor is that many more kids and adults in the past decade have been placed on medication to treat psychological issues. The Journal of American Medical Association states this has helped not only violent children but also potentially violent parents. Other factors cited as possible causes for the change included a decrease of violence in media and an increase in campaigns against bullying. While the result is positive, researchers are quick to point out that the survey only covers ages 2-17, which leaves out some of the biggest targets of abuse at under 2.
So is this a good thing? Personally I don’t think things have changed any more or less between then and now if you factor in the effects of cyberbullying. Just because kids aren’t having it out on the school yard doesn’t mean that the bullying isn’t still happening elsewhere. Suicide related to comments on social media is becoming an issue. 10 years ago Facebook wasn’t even available to children.
On a positive, this is a good study for those involved in campaigning against the notion that video games make kids violent. In an era of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and other gun driven games, it’s good to see that the actions are in fact not emulated by most kids. All this being said, however, America still leads the world in violence among children in developed nations. Has progress really been made? Only time will tell.