A first-grader shoots his classmate to death because he doesn’t “like” her. A youth murders his invigilator for not allowing him to cheat on an exam. A group of eleven, after a game of cricket, forcefully beat up a boy and rape his girlfriend. Another high school student goes on a shooting spree, killing some of his fellow students and staff.
A pattern can be noticed here. Not only do a majority of these incidents involve the youth, but nearly all such incidents involve males. There seems to be a gender divide as far as aggressive and harmful activities are concerned. Nine out of ten cases of hit and run or of underage, over-speed driving involve males. Nine out of ten rapes involve youths below the age of 30—it is a universal fact, and not just in India—that rapists are getting younger. The fact that minors cannot be imprisoned and are, admittedly unfairly, let off easy, might be a major reason for the lack of threat they feel from the law. For instance, in many cases of drunk driving in Delhi, parents bail out their children or they get off with minor punishments, at the most doing a drill directing traffic. So much for a life lost or an injury sustained.
Having made these generalizations, the aim of this article is not to slander any particular group or gender of society. It is only an attempt to see a pattern, and to try and understand why this trend is on a rise. Reasons for such crimes, of course, may be in most cases personal. However, we cannot ignore the fact that certain triggers or methodologies of thinking are also leading to an increase in this perversion of thought.
The media is one of them. Films and television shows, including cartoons targeted at young children, depict an increased rate of violence. It is a psychologically established fact that even children of the age of 2-3 years are intelligent enough to recognize violence, and they do not realize that what they are viewing is not a part of reality. Cartoons like Batman, Power Rangers and X-Men depict violence in every single episode. It is no wonder then that children exposed to this may turn to it as a solution to their own problems, and think that the only method of getting their way is by beating the “enemy” up.
Moreover, the perpetrator of violence is often glorified, and this sends out a dangerously wrong message to the society. Not only does it encourage imitation, but it also sows the seed of the idea of escaping justice and punishment. Movies like Rambo and The Brave One bring forth the idea of the complete absence of justice in the society. Video games are another source exposed to children that encourage them to “fight” and “kill”, some being particularly violent and with extreme explicit graphic content.
Music has also been known to initiate and cause aggressive reactions, especially certain genres like hard rock and metal. Concerts, like that of the Rolling Stones in 1991 in Missouri, have ended with outbreaks of actual riots, this particular case involving 2500 youths, and injuring 60. The behavior at concerts is often frantic.
However, even in the safety of one’s home, it is amazing how a song can initiate so much violence. A student in America killed his mother before committing suicide, and was known to have been humming a song about blood and killing one’s mother for a week before that. Songs with names and lyrics have also been known to trigger such reactions. Although it would be wrong to simply say that all such music perpetrates violence and should therefore be avoided, the attraction of music especially for the youth is something we cannot dismiss.
With so many wrong signals being sent out unwittingly to the audience, is wrong to expect the obvious to follow? The role of parents in bringing up their children as responsible citizens, then, is of paramount importance. They need to censor and keep tabs on what their children are being exposed to, and shouldn’t be too liberal in what they allow their children to do. There is a time and place for everything, but some things are best left out. The human psyche is in constant search for the new and the unexplored. This same trait, in a skewered mentality, harbors a threat to the entire society, for a perpetrator of violence leads not only to his own downfall (if at all) but to that of innocent victims, which violates a citizens’ right to security and leads undoubtedly to a very unhealthy society.