How political violence affects children
A national election is coming, and it is already causing huge violence among the activists of political parties. Every citizen of the country is concerned because the ruling and opposition parties seem to be gladly inviting one another to the battlefield, i.e., the public streets.
Based on previous experience, it is common for violence to not only stay in the cities, but also spread to rural areas. As a result, many people lose their lives while others become permanently disabled.
All this is highlighted by media coverage.
However, none of the parties understand how this type of violence can have a significant impact on today's technologically advanced children. A child nowadays has access to a smartphone to watch cartoons on, but these are also full of advertisements, which display violent pictures and videos.
Many children are already victims of virtual abuse, but the growing violence among political activists and the banquet of their photos on online platforms in Bangladesh are going to worsen the situation. It is because a child becomes scared, confused, and emotionally broken after seeing such photos and videos. The resulting damage done to children's mental health can be alarming. When children see violent pictures on smartphones or TV screens, they become perplexed, and can suffer from depression or other mental health problems. It is also similar in the case of teenagers, who become frustrated by regular violence that prohibits their regular entertainment activities. As a consequence, they may engage in criminal behaviours as adults.
The number of smartphone and TV users in Bangladesh has increased dramatically in recent years, but most children are using these without any proper monitoring from their parents or guardians, who are usually busy. No one is available to shield children from violent content on the internet. This is making things worse for the healthy intellectual development of children in Bangladesh.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), experiencing violence in childhood impacts one's lifelong health and well-being. There is already very little provision in terms of children's recreation centres and initiatives for their mental development in this country. Hence, growing violence within the country will deteriorate the situation. In this regard, the ruling and opposition parties should be cordial to one another. It's the year 2022, and political violence will not only bring societal woes but also make economic growth more unstable.
Media platforms should be careful when using violent photos and videos so that children can be kept out of their reach. Some newspapers highlight violent pictures to increase their sales. But if a cautionary note is mentioned alongside it, adult readers can keep that particular page out of children's reach. That way, children can be protected from mental trauma. A similar request is applicable for TV news presenters, who should also announce a cautionary note before highlighting violent scenes so that adult users can keep their children at a safe distance.
It is important to mention that violent photos and graphics are also displayed on city walls, billboards, and public places which draw the attention of children who are passing by. These definitely impact negatively on their mental health and growth. This also needs to be reduced both for children and adults alike.
Dr Md Asadul Islam is assistant professor at Brac Business School of Brac University.