Fright Free Children

and the Effects of Low-Level Violence

By Merina Balten



Horror hurts. Giving this idea wider understanding is the main reason this book was written. The whole question of exposure to horror is here set in its general context, which is that of the acceptability of low-level violence generally. So, much of the material that follows gives examples of different kinds of low-level violence (including horror and frightening material) that we commonly ignore but that need to be reexamined. Low level violence is commonplace today. And the more we take this for granted, the more entrenched violence itself becomes.

Much of the latter part of the book is devoted to possible solutions not just for the elimination of low level violence but for the replacement thereof. The premise here is that with enough positive influences in one's environment the negative factors will not thrive, will have no place to take root, and violence itself will start to recede dramatically from our lives. Just as a well-tended flower garden needs planning, planting, tending, weeding to produce beautiful blooms, so too with children. With each child that's born we have a chance to "do it better". Instead of following the time-honoured tradition of laissez-faire parenting and chancing whatever comes - prostitute or professor, drug addict or head of state, we now have in our grasp many of the pieces to the puzzle of educating children to be peaceful, productive citizens of the human race. Following the gardening pattern if we plan carefully, nurture properly and weed appropriately, we really can achieve the goal of non-violence in our life-time.

The comments that follow are addressed to everyone, but focus more on what low level violence does to our children. Children, especially small children, tend to be open and vulnerable and more susceptible than adults to violence of different kinds, though evidently not all to the same degree. The arguments in favour of the dire effects of low level violence are more obvious when applied to small children. Although many of the same arguments might possibly also apply to older children and even adults, this is not our subject here.

The programs promoting peace that are presently underway are all helpful to a certain degree. The one thing that is usually lacking is the extent to which they address basic attitudes and daily habits in an attempt to really reprogram the person's whole perspective. If, for example, you spend your free time beating up and killing other people in video games, or concentrate on text or film which illustrates the frightful and the horrible, or the sexy and pornographic, the chances are good that you won't have the empathy required to move into "peace" mode anytime soon.

Striving to lead a more peaceful, productive life we need to look closely at daily habits and thought patterns that can produce conflicts and suffering and could lead to violence.

Examples of programs that deal with the whole person. There are a few programs in the addictions field that move in this direction already with excellent results. One is by the Canadian physician Lisa Doupe who runs an anti-addiction support program in Toronto. Another is an American physician in Maryland whose work is to deprogram drug addicts and change aberrant behaviour patterns. If we're serious about stopping violence we need to cast far a-field and start to look seriously at every level of violence, large or small, as causative factors and look seriously for solutions that similarly involve the whole personality.

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me" as the song goes. An excellent start is Deepak Chopra's request to the audience at the plenary session for the Alliance for a New Humanity in Barcelona, on Nov.7, 2008 to take a vow to be peaceful. He asked his audience if they were seriously committed to bringing about a world of peace, harmony, laughter and love. Then declared that he himself had made a vow of non-violence in his thoughts, in his speech and in his actions and asked everyone present to join him and make the same commitment - over 450 people did, and committed themselves to passing it along to others (

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