These events are real and they are happening with destructive power, and we naturally turn from these events with genuine sadness. However, the secondary events are our responses and reactions to the near-endless news cycle that hypes and sensationalizes these events. Adult, teen and adolescent consumers of this news feed are turning increasingly anxious according to health reports, and they are being advised to ration their media diet.
But what about younger children exposed to this news feed? Who's looking out for their interests?
Responsible parents ration these media events for their children, but parents aren't always available to 'mediate' these events or help soothe their toddlers who, evidently, discern that such news is real, and react accordingly. They fuss, cry and worry. And, over time, this stress to can build into chronic anxiety and mental health problems that can linger and interrupt healthy development for years. And maybe a lifetime.
In a recent article in the Washington Post (Twelve seconds of gunfire) the renowned child-trauma specialist, Dr. Bruce Perry, is quoted as saying that of more than 135,000 children and young people exposed in the past 18 years to real school-based violent incidents in the US such as shootings, a "significant" number are going to have mental health struggles as a result of witnessing such events.
"It's stunning how one event can have this echo that will impact so many more individuals than people realized," he adds.
Of course, this is not surprising, and echoes the mental health difficulties experienced by children of domestic abuse or war.
But Dr. Perry's comment masks the greater number of children and young people whose mental health is disrupted or impaired by a near-endless TV and radio newsfeed that perpetuates and sensationalizes the first-hand events. Is this thousands or millions more children?
This doesn't need to happen, and there's a simple test you can do at home to prove this to yourself: watch mainstream TV or radio news tracking an emerging 'violent' event, and compare it to the same event profiled on PBS or BBC TV news. You will likely note the same information is conveyed but in strikingly different ways. Neither PBS and BBC do not sensationalize violence.
This is a distinguishing act which our children and our society enjoy better mental health.
In closing, please sign the Choose News petition today and help encourage Canadian broadcasters to prioritize the health of Canadian children when producing newscasts.