Don’t Respect Your Elders
December 21, 2016
Filed under Opinion
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In the aftermath of a heated election season, we sometimes seem to forget that the words you say can hurt others, and impact them for longer than you’d think. I find myself fuming at those pleased with Donald Trump’s win, or those retweeting the cruel jokes made about Hillary’s appearance while parading the debate stage. This election has left an impact on me, and it makes me wonder: has it left an impact on kids even younger?
We know that what we do can influence kids. Whether it be the swear word you say when you stub your toe, or the color of your shirt, our choices impact children’s attitudes. According to the Riggs Institute, “By age 4, the cortex begins operating at adult activity levels. By 4, a child’s brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s. The brain continues to consume glucose at this feverish pitch through age 10 and then slows down until age 16, when it levels off at adult values.” This is the reason people urge adults to teach their children various skills when they’re young—skiing, skating, a foreign language—because kids are able to absorb the information at a much faster rate.
With the facts presented, it makes you wonder if our candidates made the right decisions for the young kids watching. According to an article by NPR, Victor Reza, a young boy living in Houston, was watching a video about Trump on CNN and exclaimed to his parents, “I don’t want him to win. If he wins I’ll never see any of you again.”
The thought of a third grader being terrified about his parents being deported is something that I never thought would ever come out of this election. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the biggest advocates for people—no matter what age—being aware of what is happening in our world, but no child should have to go to bed at night with thoughts like that running through their head.
Fights broke out at rallies like never before. There seemed to be no common ground between candidates and their supporters, and the election took scary turns. In a September Trump rally, a 69-year-old woman was punched by a South Carolina man. Do we really want to teach the generations following us that violence with whom we disagree with is appropriate?
Bullying is already a problem nationwide. Having a candidate call another’s followers a “basket of deplorables,” or our President-elect blatantly mocking a disabled reporter, makes me worry about what young kids are seeing. Moments like those show kids that maybe it’s okay to make fun of someone else that is different, or that it’s okay to think you’re better than others because of what you believe in. It gives them an example of how bullying has the possibility of bringing them to the top, or gain even an ounce of power in our world.
Do we want the person, who will soon be running our country, to have a history of disrespect towards women? What does that teach besides showing young boys that there’s nothing wrong with treating females as lesser, or showing girls that we’re not strong enough to fight back against those who doubt us?
Kids are far more perceptive than we believe, and learn at a much faster rate than grown adults. What they see on TV and online might make a far greater impact on them than us older generations who may have already formulated a strong political viewpoint.
Nobody’s perfect—far from it, actually. But we have to set a good example for the generations following us, showing them that it is okay to be different, and have different views than others. We need to accept those different from us and see things from their perspective, making respect a nationwide ideal. That’s the only way we’ll be able to peacefully make it to our next election season.