“What really matters is the Legacy”

Last April in Spain we witnessed another set of dramatic and violent news. A 13 year old boy killed a teacher and wounded companions in his high school. Media automatically sentenced the aggressor, echoing an institution, and labeling the episode of “psychotic break”. Without being an expert on psychopathy, the fact that a child has the nerve to get up one morning, prepare a backpack with the weapons he had made with dad’s help, ingredients to make a Molotov cocktail, and a list with the targets, not only is far from an “outbreak” of any kind, but further notes a clear and premeditated reckless. Then, a set of explanations for this horrible event were initiated, among which we found that the child was a fan of a television series, qualified for over 18 due to its explicit, sexual, graphic, and verbal violent content, broadcasted in a weekday after 22:30 and that – thank to commercials – finished after 00:30.

The following news was about a fight between children of the same age range, this time on a soccer field, who fed by the public got engaged to fight with each other, and repeatedly. Perhaps some of them were following the “example of the professionals”; and the others, the violent groups that we have often seen, and have recently lead the role resulting in equally serious offenses. Nevertheless, the worst part was seeing the reactions of the parents, really demeaning and sad for their children, since they were the ones inciting to fight while insulting the referees and the other players… all around 13 to 15 years old.

Later on the same day, a representative of a television network announced their excellent results, mentioning the “social responsibility” as a value in his TV network, but I would have liked to hear him developing this concept, because it may not include the Children and the Adolescents. These days I’ve spent time paying attention to the age ratings for films, and I certainly believe this man is not consistent – nor conscious – with what they “don’t measure” in his network; that is, the enormous amounts of violence “not qualified” for over 18.

In my case, at the age of 13 I wasn’t good at sports but my parents tried their best so I could practice as many as possible, always encouraging me to participate and have fun. I wasn’t thrilled to read either, but they tried different books until they found the Famous Five and the Three Investigators. They basically managed to coax me on activities that were worth the time and effort, but with no pressure to be the best.

I was also a fan of the Avengers, superheroes defending the common good and Humanity against existing threats. I don’t remember them insulting others, and of course there was no sexual or verbal explicit violent content. What I do remember is during the weekdays I was in bed at 22:00 and my parents supervised the time, the films and the series I was watching. Coincidentally last Tuesday around 22:45, I was watching the film Iron Man (rated for over 12), when the protagonist sentenced flatly: “what really matters is the legacy”. At that moment, I started to think on the role my family had played in that legacy, and which would be ours, in reference to the future generations. After the events described, I concluded we all have some responsibility in the violent events that are occurring in our days, especially among young people.

Why do parents allow their children to watch movies or series that are rated for older ages?, Why, regardless of the age marked on the screen, they allow their children to stay watching TV on a weekday until late after midnight? Why are there children who, instead of reading a good adventure book before going to sleep, keep playing with screens uncontrolled on what they play or how late? Why broadcasters schedule weekday films under 18 after 22:30 at night? Why lawmakers keep an unadjusted criminal age of the minors, not making it commensurate with the gravity of their actions? Why do soccer players get away with a violent act, or from inciting to violence? Why the presence of parents who encourage their children to violence at a sporting event is not prohibited?

If as Iron Man says, “what really matters is the legacy”, every one of us must begin to act accordingly, and at least on issues of Infancy and Adolescence, try to provide them with what best suits their development as members of a Global Humanized Citizenship. One thing we have in common to the super heroes, and sometimes forget is, we are always on duty. We may begin by paying attention to the ratings on films and series (and also video games), although being consistent with the above, I would increase what I see published to the next possible level; this is, if I see something for over 14, I’d take it up to 16, and if it is for 16, to 18. Since Iron Man is a character of fiction, it is convenient to try our best in improving the present situations on a daily basis; focusing the efforts on projecting the “Legacy” we want for the future.

Author: Dr. Gonzalo Torquemada

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