When I first heard the news from Aurora, Colorado about the shooting in the movie theater my heart sank and I thought about the Columbine High School shooting in April, 1999. But then the realization set in that the setting was a midnight showing at a movie theater and people were talking about children.
The tragedy of the Colorado shooting extends beyond the senseless deaths, the wounded bodies, the grieving families, shocked community, and stunned nation. This twisted, evil, remorseless individual’s actions have brought certain broken parts of our society to the fore.
This shooting exposes societal problems.
A self-centered focus on pleasure without responsibility has taken over along with a seemingly insatiable desire to indulge dark imagery.
Parents brought their children to a midnight showing of a frightfully violent film. Children. Why?
The answer, from any angle, is pure selfishness. Perhaps the babysitter was a no-show. Cancel my plans to be the first to see the new Batman? No way. Maybe the child begged to come along. Say no to the persistent nagging? Set boundaries? Too difficult.
One of the victims of the shooting, according to the Associated Press, was 6 year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan. Her mother, Ashley Moser, was wounded. Many of the videos and articles interviewing witnesses describe small children in the theater.
One mother defended bringing her four year old and four month old to the movie reasoning that they would simply fall asleep. This is not just selfish but shows incredibly poor judgement. In this case tragically so.
Isn’t it a given that a good night’s sleep, attempts to preserve hearing, and shielding from violent imagery are all key in a child’s development? Apparently not.
We now know that sleep during childhood is nearly, if not equally, as important as nutrition – during sleep is when their little brains are developing. Taking a small child to a middle of the night showing of any movie deprives that child of the quality sleep the brain requires.
The sound volumes in the digital age have crept up over the years. The standard sound level in movie theaters is 85 decibels and go as high as 110 decibels! According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology sound levels above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss.
If sleep deprivation and hearing loss weren’t enough, the violence in The Dark Knight Rises is astounding. There is significant evidence that early childhood exposure to violence leads to behavioral problems soon after and continuing on in the child’s life. Studies show that this exposure to violence leads to poor social and academic life.
Parents bringing their children to midnight showings of violent movies not only deprive their children of full and proper brain development, they might be causing permanent hearing loss, and reducing life opportunities through the exposure to violence.
Now is the time for our society to reflect on these selfish behaviors that damage children’s futures. It ought to be entirely socially unacceptable for children attending midnight showings of violent movies.
Remember that children really are the future. What do we want that future to look like?