VALPARAISO | Students at Hayes Leonard Elementary School have relinquished their violent media in the name of safety, especially in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
Principal Bonnie Stephens said that school administration felt compelled to do something to help address the issue of violent media and so they connected with teachers, parents and students to begin the discussion.
“We hear about violence kids are exposed to outside of school and there is more to this picture than just their six hours a day at school, so this was an idea that we talked about and it was about allowing a dialogue to happen in our community, one we bring to our parents,” Stephens said.
The idea to relinquish violent media was brought to the PTO, Stephens said, which they supported because they felt it would encourage a discussion in the home and allow kids to talk to each other.
One of those parents, June Saavendra, said her three children are young enough that they don’t have many of the popular violent video games, but they still found two that they agreed were questionable. The discussion was invaluable, Saavendra said.
“We talked about it at dinner, to open up the discussion, how sometimes when children play games where they pretend to shoot others they begin to think it’s OK to play that way and over time that can make them make poor choices on how they play or interact with people," Saavendra said.
She said the big picture is what is important and the kids feel they are a part of making that change.
“Where the cultural shift will take place is with these family discussions. There are so many more creative ways to play,” she said.
Stephens said the program was incredibly successful. Over a four-day week they collected 70 items that were delivered to the Porter County Recycling District, she said.
“We didn’t want to put them back out for use, we wanted to destroy them,” Stephens said. “It’s important to make this statement. It’s a community that comes together to say this.”