To the Editor:

October was Domestic Violence month. The t-shirts, designed by victims of domestic violence, were hanging from the trees at the library as a reminder. If you’ve ever attended a candlelight vigil for victims of domestic violence, it is very powerful. You realize just how scary some relationships can be. But what about what we see all around us in our everyday lives?

In light of what happened recently in Danvers, Mass. where a child killed a teacher; Nevada and of course even closer to home; Newtown, the question we should be asking ourselves is why? We are living in a culture of violence. We tolerate violence everywhere and become indifferent to it. Violence is pervasive. Violence is in our video games, movies, books and even mentioned on sitcoms. What was once disturbing to the average American is no longer shocking. Try watching the original version of the movie “Cape Fear,” then watch the remade/updated version. The level of violence was significantly increased. Amazing graphics in video games where players are able to kill people. Sitcoms where children are telling their parents that, “Yeah, I just bashed a prostitutes head in.” Is that funny? Sadly, the laugh track played and the program was picked up for the rest of the season.

I’m not advocating censorship for anyone, but for everyone to think about the choices we make everyday. Do we wonder why bullying has increased, violence in schools has increased? We, as adults, may be able to distinguish between reality and fantasy but children developmentally are not always able to. While you play the video games or watch the programs and movies, do you shield your child away? What about the daily news? The newsroom motto of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Do you talk to your children about what they are watching or playing? Discussing ways to deal with conflicts both good and bad choices? Discussing the feelings of other people thus fostering empathy?

Please talk to your children — have discussions. There is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. With the holidays coming that are festive and bright and the feelings of goodwill toward all, please carry the goodwill forward. Let’s decrease the amount of violence and negativity towards each other and become good role models for our children. They are what they learn. What are the lessons we’re teaching them?

Sonya Wich, LCSW