I often ask parents if they would fast forward a movie through a violent scene if one came on while they were watching with their children. Then I ask if they would fast forward thru a scene that had "R-rated" sex in it. Many more say they would fast forward thru the sex than say they would fast forward thru the violence. I find this interesting in that I would HOPE that the parents don't want their children to ever engage in violent behavior, but do want them to have a healthy and rewarding sex life when they are adults in a committed relationship. Now, I am not advocating for watching risque films with your kids...I am just musing on the things that we tend to ignore as a society.
We are constantly assailed with images and messages about violence, sex, drugs, values. If you are not talking about these things with your kids, where are they getting the information that they need to make decisions? Since we cannot remove all of these messages from our children's lives, perhaps we can capitalize on them as opportunities for dialog?
Harmless good fun, right? Did you notice the guy with the helium balloon? Are you aware that quite a few kids DIE from this? Are you aware that inhalants are a big problem locally? As a preventionist, I would hope that if you see this ad on TV while your kids are in the room, that you might use it as an opportunity to talk about huffing. Inhaling anything that wasn't designed to be inhaled is dangerous. The helium in tanks used to fill balloons comes from sources that do not guarantee the purity of the gas; it is often contaminated with toxins. Also, kids die every year because they burst their lungs when they try to inhale directly from the tank nozzle. Do your kids have this information?
I would love to hear some examples of ways that you have engaged young people after seeing a "teachable moment" come across the screen or airwaves. Share them here on the blog, or email me with examples and I can share them anonymously with our readers.