By now, most of us have heard the news that Qaddafi is dead. US news outlets heralded this final chapter in the toppling of a dictatorship that strangled Libya for decades. And, most anchors welcomed commentators both from our own country and from that region of the Middle East.
Many on TV or radio spoke of the new dawn in Libya for freedom, but some openly celebrated Qaddafi's death. The tone of the celebratory comments seemed vindictive and gleeful. The situation now begs the questions: "Does someone's death ever deserve a celebration?"
The question impacts us as parents of young, impressionable children. When adults express joy mixed with revenge on TV, children hear the concreteness of the message. Youngsters do not grasp the abstract notion that Qaddafi's death equates to cessation of a terrorist regime. Instead, they hear adults blending pleasure with violence.
Behaviorally, children can learn to associate happiness with the use of violence to seek revenge or to right a wrong. The ideas that form can combine with other forms of learning, such as modeling violent cartoons, to produce beliefs that normalize and accept violence as justified and pleasurable. Young children learn these concrete associations, and run the risk of applying them in the real world.