|Lynn Loar, PhD, Director of Education for
Child Protective Services in S.F., spoke at the Jan. 6th meeting of the Coastside
Mothers' Club on issues of violence and children. One of Lynn's main points
was that while children at risk for acting violently may not be our own, our
children will still be exposed and there is a need to take preventive action.
- Limit exposure to violent media/tv. Studies correlate TV viewing with
aggressive behavior (more so in boys than girls).
By the 5th grade, the average child has viewed 10,000 murders!
- Teach respect for life. Caring for a pet or houseplant and gardening are
nurturing activities. Ideally, the animal is not caged and the gardening
- Reinforce delayed gratification. Limit computer time/video games, which
teach children that things move as soon as they click a button. Gardening
also assists in teaching children the process of time.
- Teach the value of service/reaching out to the community. Children learn
by our examples and our willingness to help others. In HMB, there is a need
to share resources with the large Hispanic population. One idea was to start
a clothes closet and offer good clothing and household items several times
per year. Lynn stressed the importance of doing something consistently to
make a difference versus just during the holidays. She noted that January
is a very difficult month for foster children as all the attention they
received in December disappears for the rest of the year.
- Promote a safe/secure environment in your home in which children are never
afraid of you and can speak freely. Children need to learn that violence
or force is never acceptable. Spanking and yelling teach the wrong lessons.
Children need to feel completely safe to tell their parents anything. The
biggest risk for violence to children is in the home and with relatives.
If there is not a history of abuse, drugs, or alcohol, the risk is extremely
low. Lynn recommended that stranger danger not be taught until a sense of
personal privacy develops, usually by ages 4 to 6. Pre-schoolers are too
young to understand and apply the concept and only become frightened and
- Become involved in the school system. Disciplinary issues in the local
school system - gangs, bullying and exclusionary behaviors were discussed.
One suggestion was that parents attend school board meetings and educate
ourselves so that we can vote in officials who will support improvements.
Lynn emphasized that it is not enough to provide nurturing environments
only for our own kids. By reaching out to those with fewer advantages, we
can actually create "good gangs" for our kids.
On a national level, Mothers Against Violence is an excellent organization
which lobbies for legislation supporting non-violence and supports training
programs in schools. If there is enough interest, we may be able to start
a local chapter.
Click here for more information or call
-- by Diana Mitchell