Wednesday, May 27

You may find the violent doodlings of your school-age son to be, well, disturbing. No need to worry, a popular author says.

Boys in particular are notorious for sketching people getting machine gunned, or having their arms severed. Their parents often reel in horror when they see this kind of “art,” and it never makes it on to the family refrigerator display area.

But the artists actually have a good handle on separating cartoon violence from the real thing, says Ted Dewan, who wrote One True Bear about a gruff teddy bear who wins the heart of a violent boy.

The debate over cartoon violence has raged for years. Cartoons, particularly post-World War II, contained an act of violence every 10 seconds or so. Critics complained loudly, leading to a new menu of milder fare starting in the 1970s and 1980s. The issue was satirized very effectively on The Simpson’s via the Itchy and Sratchy Show.

U.S. psychologist Michael Thompson, author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, says fantasy violence should be accommodated at the same time family and school violence must be stopped. Otherwise, he says, the risk is that they conclude school is not for them.

“Children, boys in particular, have been play acting at hunting, chasing, killing and dying since the beginning of human history,” Thompson told the BBC.

“There is no connection between writing violent stories and committing violence. If you write violent stories, you are not going to end up in jail, you are going to end up in Hollywood writing action movies.”

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