AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – After the movie theater shooting in Aurora, many people are now talking about children and violence.
How young is too young children to see violent movies, and how can more violent events be avoided in the future?
Delbert Elliott, the founding director of the Center for Study & Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder, said on the CBS4 Morning News Tuesday that since a 6-year-old was among those who was killed last Friday, “children are going to show some special interest in this particular event if they are exposed.”
“What is really critical here is that children learn to understand the consequences of this kind of violence, and that we don’t sanitize it, but we do need to be careful on the level of detail, I think, that we talk to them about because their ability to comprehend and understand is going to be somewhat limited,” Elliott said.
He said there is a greater risk for young people to commit future violence if they are exposed to violent film, media and video games, but he said it is not a much bigger risk unless there are other conditions that go with it.
“Under those kind of circumstances where (children) are not exposed to an adult explaining and talking about the consequences of that kind of behavior — if it is that they are exposed to this as a standard babysitting kind of context in which they experience it — it can have a dramatic effect,” Elliott said.
Elliott pointed out that after Columbine there were lots of copycat incidents across the country. He said that one violent act that gets lots of media exposure can effect the form future violence takes.
Experts say responses in children to different forms of violence vary greatly, and that parents need to pay close attention to their children in difficult times like this to see how they are reacting, and that seeking counseling could be a good idea if behavior becomes troubling.