August 4, 1999

Violence starts at home,
leaders warned
___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___WACO--Violence in America literally begins at home, according to Diana Garland, director of the graduate social work program at Baylor University.
___Garland led a conference on "Project HELP: Violence," a national focus of Woman's Missionary Union, during Texas Leadership Conference in Waco July 22-24.
___Researchers estimate that at least 30 percent of American wives are victimized by physically aggressive husbands. And in homes where spousal abuse occurs, the risk of child abuse is 1,500 percent higher than the national average, Garland said.
___"During the Vietnam era, 58,000 American service people died as a result of combat. During those same years, 54,000 women in the United States were killed by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. But that's a death toll that went unreported on the evening news," she said.
___Some Christian women stay in violent situations out of a mistaken belief that if they leave their husbands, they are guilty of breaking their marital covenant and violating scriptural mandates, Garland said.
___"We need to teach a theology that says God does not like violence, and he does not like people using violence and power to control others," she said. "Breaking covenant happens when the violence is perpetrated."
___At its heart, Garland said, "the violence in our country is a spiritual problem. It is a values problem."
___In a nation where the sense of community has broken down, she added, "the community of faith can be the community--not just for our own children, but for all God's children."
___Children learn violence from adults, from their own experience and especially from the mass media, Garland said.
___"The most significant teacher of violence in society is TV," she said.
___As a commercial medium, television is dominated by the three most effective attention-getters in modern society--violence, sex and humor, she noted. And children spend an average of 32 hours per week watching TV and playing video games.
___Garland offered tips to help families tame their televisions:
___ Keep the television turned off unless someone specifically has made the conscious decision to watch a particular show. "Don't just turn it on in the morning and leave it on all day as background noise."
___ Limit the number of hours of television watched per day or per week.
___ Watch television with children. "It can be a meaningful shared family activity when it's 10 minutes of plot followed by several minutes of discussion."
___ Prohibit TV watching during family meals, except as a rare treat when there is a special program the family can enjoy together.
___ Keep TV sets in shared family space, not in bedrooms. "Keep it down to one shared television in the house--and maybe one in the closet, in case somebody comes down with the measles."

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