Thursday, July 12, 2007


During our weekly City of Heroes session last night, my buddy Rob was talking about the negative publicity that violent video games get and how it sometimes simply helps to allieve stress to go out and beat up some pixelated thugs. That got me to thinking about how the public always seems to find a scapegoat for what ills the world.

If you are not a comic book fan, you may not have heard of Dr. Fredric Wertham. Back in 1954 he published a book called Seduction of the Innocent. In his book, Dr. Wertham suggested that comic books were a leading cause of juvenile delinquency. He said that because many of the delinquents had them in their posession when they were brought in. Back in those days, almost all kids read comics, so to that I say, "Duh." The book also made parents stand up and take notice and soon activist groups were rounding up all the comics they could find and burning them. Ever wonder why the first appearances of Superman and Batman were worth so much money? Thank Dr. Wertham.

In the late 1950s attention turned to rock and roll music. It was feared that the moving and shaking would lead to, you guessed it, juvenile delinquency. From "1956--After the June 30th trouble at Asbury Park, Bill Haley and His Comets are denied permission to play at the Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. A city ordnance was passed that read: 'Rock and roll music encouraged juvenile delinquency and inspired young females in lewd bathing suits to perform obscene dances on the city's beaches.' "

In the 1960s, rock and roll was still a culprit, and violent cartoons became a cause, according to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (Baker & Ball, 1969).

In the 1980s, video games came into play (so to speak) and remain under constant scrutiny for their violent content.

In the 1990s, rap music became popular and took some of the heat.

So what is it that makes people blame external sources for their children's behavior? I think it may have something to do with their not wanting to take responsibility. As a teacher, I see parents at every parent-teacher conference who have no idea what their kids are doing in school, after school, before school, or at any other time.

As I watch my daughter grow physically, cognitively, and emotionally each day I wonder what scapegoat will take the blame for bad behavior in 2020, when she is 14. I bet it won't be parents.

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