Promoting Empathy With Your Teen

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What Does Trayvon Martin's Death Teach Our Children About Conflicts?

What Our Children Learn From Us About Conflict Resolution.

With the high profile news about the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, his shooter George Zimmerman and the Florida "stand your ground law", one question comes to mind. What lessons are we teaching our children?

If it is true that in Florida, you can now shoot someone because you felt threatened, what exactly are our children, particularly children in Florida learning about what they should do when they feel threatened? Shoot someone?  

I am a big believer in self defense, but self defense comes with great responsibility. Any one who has studied self defense in the martial arts, will testify that one of the first things you are taught is how to avoid a physical altercation. Even as a soldier and a veteran of the on going conflict in Afghanistan, we were taught to only resort to violence when a clear and imminent threat to our safety was present. This meant  that insults, glares, and rude gestures did not count.

Those of us who live in states with laissez-faire gun laws should be concerned, if it is true, that in the absence of eye witnesses, a person can shoot you dead and claim self defense. Never mind that the victim of the shooting is unarmed.

Think about it, given that research has shown that our frontal cortex, (which is responsible for logic, reasoning and delaying gratification,) doesn't finish developing until a person's mid twenties, just how are our children supposed to respond to these laws and attitudes about conflicts? Kill their peers during conflicts and claim self defence?

On a brighter and more promising note, kudos to all those who participated in the million hoodie march, the demonstrations that have gone on around the country to protest this senseless killing, and the number of middle and high school students who staged a walkout, in support for their slain peer.

A twenty eight year old man, should be able to verbally deescalate tensions between he and a seventeen year old. I work with teenagers in my practice, who are sometimes hostile and I never bring a gun to work.  I have had to confront teenagers in my neighborhood for noise making, and while they were initially rude about being confronted, it ended peacefully. Why? Because I am an adult, and I appreciated and respected the fact that they were humans beings and children loved by their parents.

Please remember, we are all vulnerable.

So what are your thoughts? Do you feel you have a better argument? If so please leave behind your creative and appropriate comments in the comment section.


Ugo is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in anger management and blogs weekly on his anger management blog.
He is also the author of Anger Management 101-"Taming the Beast Within"   
Which is now available in hardback, paperback, e book, kindle and nook. 

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Ugo Uche is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in adolescents and young adults.

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