Four little boys screeched, “Help us! They’re using batons and won’t stop! Lady, please help us! They’re beating us up! They might kill us. They’ll take me to jail! I didn’t do nothin'” I quietly observed the boys’ laughter-filled playtime, slowly becoming more and more appalled at what they considered play.
Police brutality. They think it’s funny. The boys couldn’t have been more than seven. They already think brutality is funny.
By the age of 12, I was a hopeless tomboy. I enjoyed horsing around with the guys much more than painting my nails or trying on my sister’s prom dress. I know what it’s like to have a childhood of accidentally going “too far” with wrestling and playing cops and robbers. It’s all in good fun. Welcome to a healthy childhood.
But adding police brutality? Imagining the role of a “bad cop” misusing his authority? No, that wasn’t my childhood.
I know I’m not a parent. I realize it’s quite possible I’ll come back to to this post and disagree with my younger self after having actual parental experience. But at this point, all I have is frustration over the fact that our culture’s children have very little understanding of the sacredness of life. Many of them have even less respect for authority.
I had a childhood packed to the hilt of learning respect and the difference between right and wrong. The current generation of children are learning their version of those things by watching media. They are also watching us — their parents and role models.
Are we modeling wholesome characteristics which are worth them mirroring? Or, are we reacting in anger, sarcasm and cynicism and simply shrugging our shoulders and telling ourselves they’ll understand better when they grow up?
A seven-year-old knew that a baton can kill. We need to stop shrugging our shoulders.