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No to violence

Seona Smiles
Sunday, November 12, 2017

It appears we in Darkest Flagstaff are living close to the crime hub of Fiji.

About a week ago the authorities of law and order bravely published in The Fiji Times a list of the crime hot spots in the four divisions. Not unexpectedly, the less urban divisions had smaller lists of crime locations. And even less unexpectedly, Suva environs had the largest list by a long shot.

Some of them I knew very well, having had my bag snatched in a couple of city crime hot spots over the years. You live and learn.

But it was rather disturbing to read the names of streets surrounding our little neighbourhood that are apparently statistically teeming with lawbreakers.

It reminded me of the time I was settling the younger daughter into a respectable neighbourhood when she went to study in Australia. She had just moved in when the television news announced she had made her home in the murder capital of Sydney.

I believe it was a statistical glitch — there had been a couple of triple axe/multiple chopper murder scenes that had bumped up the crime figures. When she stopped screaming she was able to continue her life in that place quite unmolested, as it turned out.

Nothing like that here, of course. More your general theft and thuggery. But the statistics did give me pause for thought.

First of all I thought it was excellent that the police people shared this information with the community so that prospective victims could be suitably wary in particular places.

I read the list of hot spots to the watchdogs, who did some macho prancing around and growling — mostly at each other, they are going through a competitive phase. I can only hope they will do competitive chasing on any burglars.

I also thought about the amount of violence in our society. We are made more aware of it through the increased reporting of domestic and sexual abuse and media coverage of brutal crimes.

Such incidents are abhorred, yet violence continues as an everyday occurrence in our communities. It seems that physical abuse continues to be accepted, that people continue to believe it is proper for people to hit other people, big and small, old and young, as a form of discipline or retaliation.

We don't do hitting at home, which is why I have become concerned about the level of violence displayed in our children's behaviour and in play. Why? Where is this coming from?

There is a certain amount of verbal violence, I grant you. Shouting at the dog to go outside, at the cat to get off the table and even at the children in order to be heard over their juvenile screaming and yelling. But no waving the wooden spoon or even threatening the belt.

My suspicion is that their rough behaviour is at least partly spurred on by film and television, specifically children's cartoon shows.

When our preschoolers' mum was about their age I took her to a cartoon festival in a local cinema. We weren't there long before she stood up and in a loud voice demanded to be taken home.

I tried to shush her, but she was adamant: "I don't like it, they keep fighting."

"It's Tom and Jerry! It's supposed to be funny," I said.

"I don't think there is anything funny about a mouse hitting a cat on the head with a hammer," she said and insisted we leave.

She also thought those Disney movies about loyal dogs that die, orphaned baby animals and unsuitable friends such as the fox and the hound were made just to torture the sensitive souls of the young. I gave up and let her watch adult romcoms that may have had occasional random nakedness but no violence.

When I looked at some of the "children's" cartoon movies our littlies are viewing I wonder if they aren't encouraging violent behaviour. There is so much fighting, hitting, weaponry and conflict.

Kung Fu Panda might be a cute character but he's basically a lethal weapon. Supergirls zoom through the air with flying fists and thunderbolts to vanquish the enemy. Children fly spacecraft and shoot others out of the sky. The goodies win to fight another day.

No wonder I hear the two-year-old, who is somewhat on the destructive side, yelling at his sister: "I kill you, two times."

* Seona Smiles is a regular contributor to this column.

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