Reporters: Give ‘Em A Break

The people of Boston, like the marathoners, are resilient and resourceful. We cannot be broken by a cowardly act of terror. We will come back from this. Senator Elizabeth Warren

Patriot’s Day is a holiday in Massachusetts celebrating the anniversary of the April 19th Battle of Lexington and Concord during the American Revolution. It is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of April. My first experience of it was many years ago during my fellowship in Health Communication at Harvard.

This year I finally had the chance to see the running of the Boston Marathon. We went to see the elite wheelchair racers and the large pack of folks, many running for charities, at the corner of Washington and Commonwealth in Newton. This corner is right before one of the largest hills that runners face and lots of people cheered the racers to help them face the challenge.

We got home at 3 pm and found out via a phone call from family that the terrorist explosion had occurred at the finish line.

When you think about it, the person who planted those bombs wanted to hurt a lot of people –especially children and families. Children are out of school this week here in Massachusetts. Patriots Day is a work holiday and a time for families to be together. The terrorist/s wanted to hurt people who were cheering good people who were running for Tufts Medical Center and Fred’s Cancer Fund at Sloan Kettering and other charities. They wanted to hurt and maim the innocent.

And they did.

Sadly, the media has hounded the families of the three victims and seem to be hovering around those who are critically ill like vultures.

It is the continuing horror of this event. I request that the news media follow the ethics of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you:…or your mother, father, daughter, son. Remember: “There but by the grace of God go I.”


Bullying and TV

Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”
-Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977

I became aware of this show when I found my son watching a portion before I intervened.  I am not interested in promoting this type of programming but have placed a example of what I am talking about here.  I found the shortest clip I could find for illustration.  Bullying by physical intimidation occurred earlier in the program before this clip.

There are so many examples of this type of program.  For example, Disney had a cartoon called “Recess” that has been banned from our house.  In it, characters are verbally abusive to each other.

It’s been about 35 years since Bandura conducted his Bobo doll experiments.  In 1977,  Bandura explained observational learning that occurs via television with his Social Learning Theory.   Although his theory recognizes that learning the behavior through observation doesn’t  necessarily mean that the behavior will be reproduced, there is a huge body of research that confirms the negative impact on children and adults of observing abusive behavior.

SO, my question for those who produce this type of “children’s programming” is, why?  Why do you keep producing programs showing intimidation, stereotyping and bullying?  Are you unaware of the bullying epidemic?

Every day, 160,000 students skip school because they are afraid they will be bullied.

Several factors increase the risk of a child being bullied.  These include illness or disability, passivity, social phobia, agoraphobia, and higher levels and expression of general anxiety. Teenagers who are gay are often subjected to such intense bullying that they do not receive an adequate education.  Adults who remembered being bullied show low self-esteem and depression.

Does anyone else see the stereotypes portrayed in this program?  The effeminate male with the falsetto voice is clumsy, has few friends and is not admirable.  He is victimized by a bully, the larger male. 

When people wonder why there is such a large increase in bullying in the United States, I suggest they look at today’s line-up of television programs and stop buying the products that advertise on these shows.  Maybe that will get the point across…”we’re mad as Hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”