500 officers visit county to hear from Lt. Col Dave Grossman on violence and its cause
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman presented a training and seminar for law enforcement during a morning session and to educators and the general public in the afternoon.
Grossman is a firm believer that violence in video games, movies, television and music is harming our nation's youth. The violence of school shootings in recent years by young people only reinforces his drive and determination that something must be done. One school at a time throughout America and the world.
Grossman is on the road 300 days a year promoting his anti-violence message to whoever will listen. He has been on national talk shows with his program.
Grossman gave some tips on how to keep children safe in schools. He advocates for having lock down drills at schools and plans in place. He said don't use fancy words and codes, just shout out and send the message for a lock down. "It costs nothing to keep the doors locked and have a single point of entry with someone watching who is coming and going. Make sure the classrooms are securable now. Keep the classroom doors locked. You are secure with locked doors. It is one of the most important things and costs nothing.
"The ultimate achievement is the crimes that don't happen and the people that don't die," said Grossman.
He told the story of a boy in Minnesota who took his grandparents lives and then stole his grandfathers police vehicle, drove up on the lawn and went up the steps of the school. At the door of the school there were two unarmed guards. One of the guards ran through the school telling the teachers to lock down before he was shot by the boy.
Grossman told the audience that the shooter will find the weakest link. Let the kids in the school know the plan. "What if you have a substitute teacher who doesn't know the plan. If the kids know the plan then they can tell the substitute what to do. Don't assume an attacker is going to be a student. Anyone can wander in and they won't know the plan. If you have a plan and the kids know it then they are less likely to do it. Derick Brun was a hero, I never say the names of the attackers. They want to be famous, I never say their names, but I say the names of the heroes who died trying to protect our children.
"What good is an unarmed security guard, that is senseless. Give them the tools to do the job. You can never call an unarmed man security. Put the tools in the hands of the trained professional," said Grossman.
Grossman said he believes teachers and education will help America see light at the end of the tunnel. He believes everyone needs to take decisive action. Don't be afraid to be assertive, don't be afraid to make people mad, be afraid of having kids die.
Grossman said he was at a school in California where the people were afraid of being sued if they spoke up or spoke out about violent behaviors. There was a lawyer for the school district in the audience who told them not to be afraid that was what he was there for to defend them. I'll stick up for you he said. Let's keep kids from getting killed. "Take decisive action when you see the indicators for violent behavior." said Grossman.
Grossman told of Israel and how school violence has been reduced with the teachers and parents being armed. "It's not a responsibility to be taken lightly, you must be trained," said Grossman.
He talked of the five D's in dealing with violence. Denial, deter, detect, delay and defeat. Grossman said violent behavior and the contributing factors to violence are largely ignored. There are no laws against violent video games, violent movies or violent music. There are rules about fire and fire codes, seat belt rules. "Let's make some laws and get it done. How many people would buckle their seatbelts if it wasn't a law," asked Grossman.
"Medical technology is holding down the murder rate. People are being saved today that never would have been saved in the 1970s, 1930s or in the old west. In the 1930s there was no 911, no ambulance. Aggravated assault has gone up seven fold. The rate in which citizens are trying to kill each other off has increased dramatically. Since 1950 with the introduction of the television, the murder rate doubled in 15 years. It took 15 years, one generation for the harmful effects of violence upon children. These are the most violent times of peace time history," said Grossman.
Grossman said a crime log is kept every day of gunfights each day across America at www.warriorsci.com you can see what is going on each day across America in gun battles. "We are living in stunningly violent times," said Grossman. In the 90s there was a downturn in violence, this can be attributed to the incarceration rate of offenders, in America today there are 500 people per 100,000 in jail. Non-violent offenders are getting plea bargains to keep the violent offenders in jail. "Would the situation be worse if these violent offenders were out, yes it would be. We need to take violent people off the streets, but we need to look at the root cause; the source of the infection and it's worldwide, not just in America. Serious assaults are up worldwide. In Japan there has been a 43 percent increase in juvenile violent crime.
"In July 2000 the American Medical Association and other related groups of doctors testified before Congress that after 30 years of research, studies have proven that violent TV, video games and movies cause violence in society. We need to make our schools safe. We need to think of violence like we would a doctor treating heart disease; look at the risk factors, lack of exercise, obesity, tobacco use doubles and even triples the risk of getting heart disease. If you stop smoking you cut your risk of developing heart disease in half. You need to look at violence the same way; what causes violence; TV, movies, music, poverty, gangs, breakdown of the family, we live in a culture of death. There's a new factor now which doubles and quadruples the risk of violence. This new factor is the violent TV, movies and video games. Does culture influence violence," asked Grossman.
Grossman showed a picture of a young Palestinian girl with the potential of becoming a suicide bomber, because they are so idolized in that culture. But, what does our culture produce?
"We have our own generation of murderers. There are those that drop out of society and immerse themselves in a culture of violence. In the video game, Grand Theft Auto, it has influenced a generation through simulation; in the game you are the bad guy, there are no good guys. You rob, and kill and sell drugs. Kids spend thousands of hours on these games. They buy sex from a prostitute and after having sex with the prostitute, you murder the woman and take your money back. The game player shouts to the woman......die, you ***** bitch and other expletives of degradation. Does that sound like the kind of game our youth ought to be playing? But, in a survey in Minnesota, 30 percent of the second graders had played that game. Another game has the player soak people in gas and light them on fire. Then the player urinates on the girl he lit on fire and you also urinate on a cop. Sick kids immerse themselves in this and think it's funny. Seven states have enacted legislation to regulate violent video games and the video game manufacturers are suing them, claiming they are infringing on their first amendment rights and they find a judge to rule with them and over turn the legislation. This is a sick industry selling sickness to kids. The video game industry makes more money than Hollywood. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep selling filth to kids. That's the message this culture is sending to our kids. School shooters immerse themselves in violence," said Grossman.
Grossman explained studies that have taken place on the brains of kids who don't play violent video games and those that do. In a set of brain scans which shows brain activity during a decision making exercise, called Go-No-Go. When it comes to looking into the future, weighing consequences and making decisions, the low media violence exposure group is using a lot of the logical part of their brain; the high media violence exposure group is using very little. Grossman explained that violence is addictive. Violence demands that you watch it, why do people always look at accidents along the freeway. It's addictive. They need to be forced to stop marketing to kids. That market would crash, if they couldn't market to kids. These kids sit for hours immersed in video games, they don't talk, they don't interact. They have an over developed dog brain. These kids are aliens among us. Media violence retards brain development. Video game players when faced with left brain exercises had no brain activity. There is a shut down of left brain processing and that encompasses millions of kids out there.
"In real life there is no reset button. Sooner or later we have to get tired of living in a world of violence," said Grossman.
Grossman said with the school shooters there was no left brain activity, no logical thinking. He asked the question is the brain stuck in that mode. He described their brains as being drunk on violent visual images. He said you can detox a kid in about three days, get them away from TV, violent video games and violent movies for a week. He asked if anyone had ever taken a kid camping for a week. The first three days are hell with no electronic devices and then the kids begin to get into it, and they don't want to leave. He has talked with camp directors of bible camps and they say the first three days, they don't get anything spiritual accomplished, but after the kids have a chance to detox and get away from all the crap then real learning can take place. Families can detox their own kids. There is a national turn off TV week and you can learn more at tvturnoff.org. There are testimonials there of people who tried it and they say they are never going back to TV.
Grossman told the story of a 3 year old boy who had been kicked out of day care for unconrolled violence. They took him to the pediatrician and requested medication for the child. The doctor told the parents before he would medicate a child with a drug, they had to take him off the current drug. No TV, no movies and no videos for a week. One week later they had a transformed child. The parents became true believers and the kid is back in his day care and without the use of medications.
"What if a whole school detoxed kids? If a whole school takes violence out what would happen. It's not hard to get the kids to turn off the TV. When I was a kid, I believed everything my teacher told me. When she said that cigarettes would kill you, then I went home and hid my dad's cigarettes because I didn't want him to die. If teachers tell them then they will do it. If the teachers tell them to turn off the TV then they will do it. The average time kids spend in front of the TV each week is 45 hours. Where do kids find this kind of time. They are sleep deprived, they are playing games when they are supposed to be sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that under no condition should any child have a TV or computer in their room. If kids have a TV in their room then Hollywood is raising those kids.
"A truancy officer showed up on the door of a kid who wasn't at school. His mother answered the door and the officer asked why the kid wasn't in school, she said she didn't know. They found the kid in the living room, slumped over asleep in front of the TV; he played video games all night and was too tired to make it to school.
Schools who take the turn off the TV challenge spend the first week keeping a log of how much time they spend in front of the TV. The second week they figure out what they want to do with the extra time since they are off the tube. Schools are using the 10 day TV turn off challenge. The clever schools have set this turn-off during testing time. Then the kids detox, Wednesday-Sunday and then Monday-Friday they are at their peak for testing. They aren't being bullied. This is a secret weapon for schools to increase test scores. Detoxing raises scores. For athletes, the coaches have a secret weapon, to detox kids before a big game. Physical performance will improve. The kids won't be sleep deprived any more. Participating kids see how much fun it was. When the turn off the TV curriculum is introduced in a school then violence goes down 40 percent and bullying down 50 percent. In a double blind observation of playground and lunch room behaviors these declines were shown.
Stanford studies show that obesity is down when the plug is pulled on the TV. There is an explosion of overweight kids in America right now. For the last 50 years since the invention of TV, kids have been sitting on their tails eating snacks and growing obese. In Escanova, Michigan since pulling the plug then violence in schools has been cut in half. Attendance levels are up. Why are the kids coming to school? with no TV they got so bored they started going to school. What are the symptoms of sleep deprivation. You become irrational and unable to think clearly. When you pull the plug, the sleep deprivation goes away. Kids aren't being bullied, bladder infections in little girls are going away. The little girls were afraid to go to the bathroom, because it is the only place where they are unsupervised and bullying was taking place. Without bullying the little girls are returning to the bathrooms and bladder infections are going away. People underestimate the problem of bullying. It's a human dignity thing, you ought to be able to go to the bathroom without fear. In Michigan, math and reading scores on tests went up. Educators can raise those test scores if they are able to educate kids in a non-violent environment. In Michigan, this entire community thrived. The library thrived, I visited the library and their shelves were virtually empty because half the books were checked out. In the first year, the checkout rates increased by 40 percent. The YMCA offered a free 10 day membership during the 10 day TV turnoff test. After the 10 days were up then people renewed those memberships at record rates. The video stores didn't thrive, but to hell with them, everything else thrived. The local newspaper offered a free subscription period during the 10 day TV turnoff.
"Educators can lead us back from that dark and tragic place where we have traveled. Education is the only tool we have. Cops can hold back the darkness, but educators can lead us back. Teachers light up the night. After the initial, 10 days off TV, then kids are put on a TV budget where they choose seven hours of programming. To deal with obesity over the long term you need behavior modification; without a steady diet of TV everyone thrives. Michigan has received a $2 million grant to be national distributors of the turn off TV campaign. In Chicago on Aug. 6-7 there is a national convention. The curriculum is offered to schools for free. There is a $100 registration fee for the conference and scholarships can be obtained for this fee. We can change the world.
"We will reap what we have sown for years to come, but we can turn the train around, it can be a different world for our grandkids. Send someone to this conference. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will walk out the door of the conference with everything you need to set up this program in your school.
"How does everything tie together, the music, the video games, the violent movies? Most of us won't be bullies, but we will live our lives in fear. How come nobody ever hitchhikes any more? It's because we're afraid. Our children until they are 7,8 or 9 years of age, can't distinguish fantasy from reality. Everything they see is real to them. Cops see horrible things every day. Would you want to bring your young child along for the next dead body? It's real to them. If you wouldn't want them at a crime scene in person then why would you let them watch it on TV. To them it is real. Fear empowers the bully. Young children know they can die, they've seen it on TV. Many of our kids are living in fear. The bully tells them, if you tell anyone, I'll kill you. We live our lives in fear. Trust is gone. Kids learn fear at a young age.
With music, never in human history have they sought this music they are seeking today. They take every despicable act of violence and turn it into a song, that's what you are getting today and it's sick and pathological. Studies have proven that music has an affect on behavior. Music is a powerful social tool that reaffirms what's going on in society. Music reaffirms a set of values. Patriotic music, spiritual music, all reaffirm a set of values. Violent music reaffirms violent behavior and feeds it back to us. That's what kids were fed with at an early stage. Music is a symptom of the disease. It's not the disease, it is an ugly symptom of the disease that was introduced years ago. We need to have the moral courage to say that's not right. We need someone to say it's wrong. If not, then you give them permission to proceed. I worked with Bill Cosby, he is a remarkable human, and he is wise and kind. He wrote comedy shows and he has a PhD in education, his son was violently killed while stopped to change a flat tire. He told us that it's our job to catch kids. He said his dad never knocked on their bedroom door he just burst into a room. He said it's your job to tell kids that's not right. But, they might not be getting the violence at your house. But, what games are they playing at the neighbors. You might be a good parent, but what are they watching at the neighbors. If your neighbor's not doing the right thing, then someone somewhere will pay the price. We didn't get to where we are overnight, it's been building up over the last 50 years. In the 1950s the murder rate doubled in a brief period of time. The Center for Disease control did an epidemiological study to see what could be the cause. The murder rate went up first in the east and then in the west; in the cities first and then the country; in the white population and then in the blacks; in the United States and then in Canada. The CDC they looked at every factor they could and every variable. They looked at gun control, poverty, fluoride in the water. This was when TV appeared, first in the east, then in the west, first with whites; then later black people got TVs, the United States had TV first, then Canada. Within the first 15 years after TV appeared, the murder rate doubled. Every time wherever it appeared, Kids have been traumatized and fed a steady diet of violence. Fifteen years later you reap what you sow. Media violence hearings were held in Congress as far back as 1952. Scientists said we would pay a price and we have," said Grossman.
Grossman made it clear he was talking about childhood exposure to violence. Not adults. Child abuse inflicted on a child. "There are things adults can do that kids can't. Watching violence is one of them. Long term childhood exposure to violence has its consequences.
"If TV had never been invented the study says there would be 10,000 fewer homicides each year. People ask me why are you so passionate about this and I ask them how can they not be passionate. I have worked on this for 11 years since retiring from the army. I am on the road 300 days a year. People send me emails that say violent video games have no affect on behavior and then they tell me, 'what you do makes me so mad, I want to kill you. I have received death threats. The media is doing the same thing the army does, teaching kids to kill. Hollywood tried to talk me out of doing what I am doing.
"There is a despair in someone who is gasping their last breath due to a murder, their lives stolen away by a murderer. I was there at Virginia Tech hours after the massacre. In the photographs of the victims it showed a horror, knowing they would never see their loved ones again, knowing they would never accomplish the things they wanted to in their lives. Ten thousand murders a year that never would have happened 10,000 people a year that would never have to have felt those feelings of having their lives slip away. The pain of their families and loved ones upon learning about the murder. Take that 10,000 and times it by all the years since 1950 and you tell me why you are not passionate. This is worthy of your passion.
"Violence sells, it is a big industry. It is priming people for violence. It is drug dealer mentality, but even drug dealers don't sell to little kids. Some people say well it's the parent's job to keep the kids away from this stuff. But, why, we have laws in other areas to help keep kids safe. We have seat belt laws, we have car seat laws, we have laws that you can't by alcohol until 21, you can't drive until you're 16, you can't buy a gun when you're a kid. Why don't we have laws against this. A kid can't go into a pawn shop and buy a gun and then a pint of liquor and you don't say that it's the parents job to keep them out of the liquor store. There are laws against it. It's child abuser logic. Don't let them get away with it. We are fighting violent, visual imagery marketed to children, that's what we are fighting, marketing to kids.
"In February of 1998 I retired from the army. I was out of town and I got a call from my Aunt that there was a mass murder in Jonesborough Ark. at the middle school and it was unknown how many dead. It was the worst feeling of horror. My son went to middle school in Jonesborough, Ark. My aunt wanted me to go and help. So I went to the school. I didn't know there were two middle schools. It wasn't my son's school it was the other school. I offered to help. We set up in the gymnasium and right outside the door to the gymnasium there was the blood congealing from the victims. Two boys ages 11 and 13 had stole weapons and pulled the fire alarm, as the girls came rushing out of the gym, the shooters waited until the door locked behind them, and then they opened fire killing 13 girls and a teacher.
"One of the counselors who had been at the hospital with the families came into the gym and she needed to talk. She had been at the hospital all day and the families were there in sobbing masses as the doctors would come out and tell them their child had died. There was one woman sitting alone, no friends, no family, no husband. She was just sitting there staring into the distance. The counselor asked if she could help her. The lady sitting alone, said, they called me and told me my little girl is dead. How do I get my baby back? She was told that all those killed had been sent to Little Rock and to call them and after they were done testing they would send the body to a funeral home of her choice. The mother couldn't afford a funeral. That baby was all she had in the world. She had hugged that baby and sent her off to school and that's the last time she saw her all warm and cuddly. She trusted us, she sent her into the world and we failed to keep her safe, we failed that Mom, we failed those parents. We need to lead the kids home, we need to love them enough to take action. Education is the only transformation tool we have. God bless you and God bless America.