In President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, he called on senators from both parties to work together on tougher gun control laws. His speech came the same week two people were arrested for the shooting death of Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton. Just last month, Hadiya performed during festivities for President Obama's Inauguration.
That tragedy and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed, are sadly among the growing acts of violence that have been lead stories on the nightly news.
People on both sides of gun control continue the debate, while also trying to determine the best way to protect the Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms.
A Hollywood screenwriter, who visited Valley Christian Academy in Aurora, Ohio, believes the issue is not "all or nothing". Howie Klasuner who wrote Space Cowboys, starring Clint Eastwood, says while Hollywood might glamorize and glorify violence, he’s not willing to lay 100% of the blame on the big screen nor tinker with the First Amendment. [In part, the First Amendment allows you freedom of speech.] “We’re all in this vicious circle together. If the public refused to consume this kind of content, it wouldn’t be produced,” he said.
A husband and father of three children, Klausner stresses that parents MUST parent. “One family, one child at a time. We hold so much power than we think, but if we remain silent as more and more degradation is thrust upon us, it will get worse."
Here's more of what he shared with me.
What else should parents do to address some of the images that Hollywood? Get involved, get knowledgeable about what’s out there that’s aimed at our kids. Make yourself heard. Forget emails. They’re too anonymous. We get too many of them. Pick up the telephone, write and stamp a letter to the producers, executives and studios that produce and distribute the material. Praise and pledge them when they’re doing it right and let them know when they’re not. Take back the remote control. We as parents wring our hand and act powerless, when we hold all the power. Turn the TV off.
When it comes to violent video games, do manufacturers have a responsibility when it comes to addressing violence? Parents, parents, parents…don’t buy it folks and don’t let your kids buy it. Make an agreement with your kids’ friends’ parents. I don’t want them playing that game! Awkward? Yeah, a little. Effective? You better believe it.
What advice would you give to parents who are torn between whether they allow their kids to play this game or the game that contains violence? Put your Big Boy/Big Girl pants on and just say no. You don’t need a guidebook here. Your common sense will drive you. Will your kids fight you on this? Of course, they will. That’s what kids do. But stand your ground, do you job in protecting them and offering them something else to do with their time and your treasure—preferably with you!
As a parent, do you have challenges trying to “police” what your kids see on television or on the internet? We do not subscribe to cable television. The kids can watch DVD’s or NetFlix movies that we approve on the weekend. We closely monitor their internet usage. They will not join a social network until 16 (This is the biggest battle we have, frankly).
I’d like to close by saying it may be a little earlier for my wife and me in that one or both of us is always home. I’m an artist and I engage my kids in art and expression, alongside sports, social and fun. We talk a lot about these very subjects. They’re aware that there are some pretty questionable influences out there. They’re developing a keen radar because we talk about it. Kids are smarter than we give them credit. We explain to them what it is that we’re ultimately sheltering them from and they get it.
My heart goes out to single parent homes and to two-working parent homes. It’s harder and I recognize that. Life is so busy and I am not judging or suggesting how people should best run their homes and lives. When it’s possible for mom and/or dad to be there at the moment they step off the bus and can offer themselves, there is no question, THAT’S what our children need and want most.
Editor's note: Howie Klausner says he's a Christian and makes no secret about sharing that. He's a Christian who happens to be a filmmaker. His focus is to make great and meaningful movies that cause people to pause and examine themselves and their experiences. He says there was never a better storyteller than Christ.