This entry was spurred by a conversation we had in my special education class last night. To give you some frame of reference, we started talking about traumatic brain injury and what the main causes are. The conversation then transitioned into child abuse ad its ‘epidemic’ proportions today. (You’ll see later why I put it in quotes) From there the class started questioning (as a good class does) the statistics on child abuse, the severity of it, etc. Many people were of the opinion that 1)Statistics weren’t kept as rigorously twenty years ago as they are now, and 2) many things that are considered child abuse today (slapping or hitting your kid every now and then) were more commonplace and socially acceptable years ago.
As the discussion and questioning went on, the professor got almost angry with the class. It wasn’t an anger directed at the students because he thought we were idiots, it was more of his frustration and passion with the topic. At some point while he was talking about his experiences and knowledge, I kind of tuned out and starting writing down some thoughts and notes. The result is this post, which I briefly expressed at the end of class (it was 9 pm and everyone wanted to leave but me).
My first small issue is with the use of the terminology. I don’t remember the exact quote used in class but it was something like ‘child abuse is at record proportions’. When you use the word proportions, you have to be very careful. That word implies that you are comparing two things, the definition of a proportion. I’m not scouring the net looking for abuse statistics, but it seems that when I hear a phrase like that used, it often cannot be backed up with numbers or stats, or anything. Its used simply to emphasize the problem.
Moving to the bigger picture, I’ve been thinking about why child abuse would be more prevalent now than it was 20 years ago. What has changed since then that has had the biggest impact? Are people different today than years ago? What made them different? The main reason that I can boil it down to is technology. pose situations
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, people heard about it on the radio first, then newspapers, and lastly film. As the professor said last night, people went to movie theaters the following Saturday to see footage and news reports of the attack. There was almost a full week for people to process and digest what had happened. The technology to transport video around wasn’t nearly where it is now.
Move ahead to the first (and only) televised war, Vietnam. What was being shown on the news was full video of what happened yesterday. The content of what was being shown has books written about it, buts lets just say there is a reason it was the only televised war.
Then something incredibly interesting happened in technology. It exploded into people’s homes. Cable television, VCRs, DVDs, video games, computers, internet all became common in a typical house. There were also amazing advancements in other communication technologies, satellites, wireless, cameras, cell phones, etc.
Never before could video come live from one side of the world to the other. News and information now travels instantly. For instance, almost everyone watched the events unfold on live television on 9/11. That processing time that people had after Pearl Harbor doesn’t exist anymore. Everything today is instant on with no time for filtering or processing.
Twenty years ago, when you heard some breaking news, you couldn’t take a device out of your pocket and instantly tell all your friends about it. Kids weren’t playing simulation games that had them shooting people or racing around like a lunatic.
Since all this technology has been introduced and become widespread, society has gone crazy. As I thought more about this, it seems like symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. There seems to be some disconnect between emotions and conscious, similar to PTSD. Has this flood of information and stimulation done this to society?
I don’t have any of the answers, but I do think they are worth pursuing. This issue and discussion has lead me to want to take a mass media course or something next semester to deepen my understanding.