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‘I like murder,’ she said

By Nathan Rice

“I like murder,” she said. My face must have revealed my internal reaction, because she continued by clarifying her remark. “Well, you know, fake murder on TV.”

I continued the conversation by asking her what type of shows she watched that contained all this murder. She rattled off a list of shows in which special agents have to solve a crime and save the day. The conversation continued as she said, “You probably think I shouldn’t be watching these shows since I’m 11 years old, but I really like them.” She was right. I didn’t think she should be watching these shows, but I’m her pastor and not her parent, so I don’t have the ability to restrict what she watches.

I will begin by admitting that I’ve watched shows where an individual ends up as a victim of a violent crime. There’s nothing wrong with an adult enjoying some murder mystery shows, but I have a hard time believing an 11-year-old is ready to properly process a constant stream of blood and murder.

Children’s worldviews are being rapidly developed, and what they see and hear plays a large role in shaping their minds. In the same manner, fiction and reality are often blurred in the minds of children. This 11-year-old knows these shows are fake, but how much of this fake murder is unknowingly blurring with the reality around her?

I’m not a medical doctor, so I can’t tell you how a child’s mind is physically developing, and I don’t have a degree in child psychology, so I can’t quote any fancy study that shows the inner workings of a child’s mind using color-coded MRI recordings. What I do know from simple observation is that we are all influenced by what we put into our minds, and that this influence is enhanced in children.

These shows also contain many adult-themed storylines. I understand that we cannot always shelter our children from the harsh realities of life, and I know that they must learn how to deal with the evils in the world around them, but shouldn’t we allow them to enjoy the innocence of childhood and the magic that comes along with it while they are young?

We should introduce children to things as they mature, but we too often allow the TV to introduce and teach adult-themed topics. These shows do not know your child’s maturity level or knowledge regarding a certain topic, and it is not their intent to help you discuss these topics with them.

It’s time that we as a society take a look at what we are allowing to enter into the minds and hearts of our children. We can’t always control what they see or hear at school or in the neighborhood, but we do have the ability to control what comes on the screen in front of them.

Let’s remember that they are children, and they don’t yet have the ability to properly process certain things. There will be a time when they need to learn these things, but it is our job as adults to introduce them to these topics in a way that they can understand while teaching them how to deal with this new information. Likewise, let’s not force them to grow up before it is needed. Childhood only happens once. Protect the children in your life by reviewing what they watch. Their minds and hearts are in your hands.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.