Violence Is Everywhere
SITTING in his car waiting for the traffic light to change, the driver suddenly noticed a big man coming toward him, shouting obscenities, shaking his fist in the air. The driver hurried to lock his doors and close his windows, but the big man kept coming. Reaching down, the man rocked the car and pulled on the car door. Finally, out of frustration he raised his big fist and smashed it into the windshield, shattering it to bits.
Is this a scene from an action movie? No! This was a traffic dispute on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, known for its tranquil, relaxed atmosphere.
It is not surprising. Locks on doors, bars on windows, security personnel at buildings, even signs on buses that say “Driver does not carry cash”—all point to one thing: Violence is everywhere!
Violence at Home
The home has long been cherished as a person’s safe haven. This idyllic picture, however, is fast changing. Family violence, which includes child abuse, spouse beating, and homicide, is making news headlines all over the world.
For example, “at least 750,000 children in Britain may suffer long-term trauma because they are exposed to domestic violence,” says the Manchester Guardian Weekly. The report was based on a survey that also found that “three out of four women questioned said their children had seen violent incidents, and almost two thirds of the children had seen their mothers beaten.” Similarly, according to U.S.News & World Report, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect estimates that “2,000 children, most of them under 4, die each year at the hands of parents or caretakers.” This exceeds the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents, drownings, or falls, says the report.
Domestic violence also includes spouse abuse, which ranges from being pushed or jostled to being slapped, kicked, choked, beaten, threatened with a knife or a gun, or even killed. And today this form of violence works both ways. One study finds that among reported violence between couples, about one quarter of the cases are started by the man, another one quarter by the woman, and the rest can best be described as brawls in which both parties must share the blame.
Violence at the Workplace
Away from home the workplace has traditionally been where a person finds order, respect, and civility. But that seems no longer to be the case. For instance, statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice show that each year more than 970,000 people are victims of violent crime at the workplace. Put another way, “workers may have a one-in-four chance of being the victim of some form of violence at work,” according to a report in Professional Safety—Journal of the American Society of Safety Engineers.
What is most troubling is that workplace violence is not limited to altercations and slurs. “Violence specifically directed against employers and employees by other employees is now the fastest-growing category of homicide in the U.S.,” says the same report. In 1992, 1 in 6 work-related fatalities was a homicide; for women, the figure was nearly 1 in 2. There is no denying that a wave of violence is sweeping through the once orderly workplace.
Violence in Sports and Entertainment
Sports and entertainment have been pursued as means of diversion or relaxation to refresh a person for the more serious endeavors of life. Today entertainment is a multibillion-dollar industry. In order to carve out as large a chunk of this lucrative market as possible, purveyors are not averse to using any means at their disposal. And one of such means is violence.
For example, Forbes, a business magazine, reported that a video-game manufacturer has a popular war game in which a warrior rips off his opponent’s head and spine while spectators chant, “Finish him! Finish him!” A version of the same game made for a competing company, however, does not have that bit of gore. The result? The more violent version outsells its competitor by a ratio of 3 to 2. And this translates into big money. When the home versions of these games came on the market, the companies grossed $65 million internationally in the first two weeks! When profit is involved, violence is just another hook for consumers.
Violence in sports is quite another matter. The players often take pride in what damage they can mete out. At one hockey game in 1990, for instance, there were 86 penalties—an all-time high. The game was interrupted by three and a half hours of mayhem. One player was treated for a fractured facial bone, a scratched cornea, and a gash. Why such violence? One player explained: “When you win a real emotional game, with a lot of fights, you go home and you feel a little closer to your teammates. I thought the fights made it a real spiritual game.” In so much of today’s sports, violence, it seems, has become not just the means to an end but the end itself.
Violence in School
School has always been viewed as a citadel where young people can leave all their other concerns behind and concentrate on developing their minds and bodies. Today, however, school is no longer such a safe and secure place. A Gallup poll in 1994 found that violence and gangs constitute the number one problem in public schools in the United States, outstripping finances, which topped the list the previous year. Just how bad is the situation?
To the question, “Have you ever been the victim of a violent act that occurred in or around school?” nearly 1 in every 4 students in a survey answered yes. More than one tenth of the teachers also answered in the affirmative. The same survey found that 13 percent of the students, boys and girls, admitted to having carried a weapon to school at one time or another. Most of them claimed that they did so only to impress others or to protect themselves. But one 17-year-old student shot his teacher in the chest when the teacher tried to take his gun away.
A Violent Culture
There is no denying that violence is everywhere today. In the home, on the job, in school, and in entertainment, we face a violent culture. Being exposed to it daily, many have come to accept it as normal—until they are victimized. Then they ask, Will it ever end? Would you too like to know the answer? Then please read the following article.