Power Rangers or Public Enemies?

October 22, 1994

When three of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show up for their scheduled appearance at today's CFL football game at Memorial Stadium to the screams of thousands of youngsters, who knows? Maybe they'll be arrested by Baltimore police on the spot.

In Norway, the immensely popular American-made "Power Rangers" show is being blamed for inciting a group of children to beat to death a 5-year-old. The campy TV show is about a band of teen-agers who use martial arts to save the world from monsters. It's one of the biggest hits in children's television in years. This Halloween, you can be certain every third time you answer your doorbell, you'll find a kid dressed as a Power Ranger.

The stoning death of Silje Marie Redergaard in Trondheim, Norway, as described in The Sun last week by correspondent Dan Fesperman, was an abysmal act, a human tragedy. So was the death of a 5-year-old boy in Chicago this month, who was thrown from a high-rise building by a 10- and 11-year-old after he refused to steal candy for the older boys. So was the murder of a 2-year-old in Liverpool last year by two 11-year-olds, whose crime stunned all England. So was the bludgeoning and strangulation of a 4-year-old in upstate New York by a 14-year-old in a similar case last year.

But don't pin the blame on Power Rangers or toy guns. The complexities that lead a youngster to seriously harm or kill another can't be so easily explained. If the only brain-food children are fed is TV violence, maybe they are more inclined toward destruction and not creation. But these shows and toys should not be the primary nourishment a youngster receives. Spend time with your children. Talk to them. Hug them. Read them books. Don't encourage violence through your actions or even passive acceptance of it. Don't let the electronic baby-sitter raise your kids.

Characters such as the Power Rangers and Beavis and Butt-head have become flashpoints for a growing frustration over disruptive and disrespectful behavior by children. It's one of the major vexations in public education, shared by inner city and suburb alike. A free society will never be able to exclude these potential influences from a child's world. A healthy and active upbringing, however, will neutralize their effects.

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