This is a dangerous subject, isn’t it? There are articles everywhere about violence in video games, violence in movies, violence in kids’ shows. So many moms tend to come down hard on one side or the other of it: There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of violence; it’s not hurting them to see it! and Oh, my goodness, I don’t even want my kids to play with toy weapons! One extreme or the other isn’t necessarily the correct answer; but as with the other topics that have been discussed in these articles, what goes into a child’s mind comes out in their behavior. What if what’s going in is violence?
Fantasy books, in particular, tend to be bad about this. Not only are they filled with the regular fighting-for-your-life sorts of scenarios that are so common in adventure stories, but in fantasy, often, healing is as simple as getting to the nearest magic-user. As a result, wounds that would require months of recovery in the real world—even wounds that could cause permanent, lasting damage—are healed in a matter of pages. In Animorphs, the kids lose limbs, shatter bones, and are otherwise injured in a variety of different ways…and all they have to do to be rid of the injury is “morph” back out. In Harry Potter, no matter how bad the injury is, Madam Pomfrey is always on hand to put them back together again—and if it’s something she can’t heal, well, there’s always St. Mungo’s. Desperate, horrible injuries are trivialized, because all it takes is a wave of a wand or a minute or two of concentration to put things back to rights again.
It desensitizes children to the reality of those injuries. Someone gets hurt playing? Oh, well, it’ll heal. Some of this is not necessarily a bad thing. Children need to know that their bodies will heal if they are injured, and too much caution is no more healthy than too little. On the other hand, what happens when they stop realizing just how much pain they are causing the other party with their games? When a little boy punches his sister and doesn’t understand why she’s so upset over the resulting bruise, or a little girl trips her brother, he gets hurt, and she doesn’t understand why he is still limping the next day? It’s not that they are being malicious or hurtful on purpose. It’s just that they’ve lost the fear of hurting someone else.
Violence is, unfortunately, everywhere in today’s society. Violence sells. It keeps the pages turning—child readers, like adults, are eager to know what happens next. Fantasy books that tell of the epic battle between good and evil would not be complete without an injury or two along the way. However, too many books of this type can leave children with a view of the world that is not entirely to their parents’ liking.