I was disturbed and upset by Lauri Githens' Feb. 4 column in The News. I cringed as I read it. She applauds herself for insisting that her fifth-grade son watch uncut and bloodily gruesome realities of emergency room dramas on the TV show "Trauma: Life in the ER." She wants the boy to be scared, "good and scared. And I want the fear to be permanent."
Githens' intentions are, of course, laudable. She does not want her son involved in awful accidents because of peer pressure-induced teenage drinking and drugging. But the means she has chosen are, I believe, incorrect and self-defeating. As an educator with 40 years of experience and as a father of six, I am glad that she is not teaching my grandchildren.
Research has taught us over and over again that kids, as well as adults, are not effectively motivated by fear. Fear can stifle growth and it can shut down forward progress, but it cannot motivate to "safe" behavior, to the behavior we want from our children.
On the contrary, fear begets more fear. The repetition of violent images erodes our natural sense of revulsion, produces an insensitivity to violence and, in effect, tends to attract more violence into our experience.
Our children see and experience far too much violence, blood and mayhem already - for which the media must bear a good deal of responsibility. That people would think that exposing children to more violence would reduce or diminish danger bespeaks a misunderstanding of some fundamental principles.
A universal law, sometimes called the Law of Attraction, states that "like attracts like." An ancient adage expresses it this way: "What you think about, grows." Let us be careful, then, what we teach our children to think about.
EDWARD M. O'KEEFE