Prose Reader “We Are Training Our Kids to Kill”

Table of Content

Understanding Details

1. According to Grossman, the “virus of violence” is referring to the increase of murder, attempted murder, and assault rates in not only America but many places around the world. Although the population has been increasing, both the assault and murder rate are significantly high. Grossman quotes, “Today, both our assault rate and murder rate are at phenomenally high levels. Both are increasing worldwide” (Paragraph 6) Then he continues giving examples of the rising assault and murder rates in different parts of the world. For example,” In Canada, according to their Center for Justice, per capita assaults increased almost fivefold between 1964 and 2002, attempted murder increased nearly sevenfold, and murders doubled.” (Paragraph 6) Many factors could be accounted for while searching for the virus of violence. But Grossman stresses, “And though we should never downplay child abuse, poverty, or racism, there is only one new variable present in each of these countries that bears the exact same fruit: media violence presented as entertainment for children.” (Paragraph 7) Here is he pointing out the main influence to the virus of violence: our kids believe the violence that they watch in the media, whether it is television or the internet, to be a laughing matter. As a result, the “virus of violence” is the damaging influence that violence has on the people around the world.

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2. As evidence of the author uses to argue that ‘killing is unnatural” Grossman starts off saying, “Within the midbrain, there is a powerful, God-given resistance to killing your own kind.” (Paragraph 12) He states that every species, with a few exceptions, has a hardwired resistance to killing its own kind. Also, when humans are overwhelmed with anger and fear we slam on the midbrain resistance that prevents us from killing one of our own. Since sociopaths don’t carry this resistance, they are likely to kill people and have a weak violence immune system. Even in wars, we have a hard time doing what we were trained to do. Grossman adds, “He would be brave, he would stand shoulder to shoulder, he would do what he was trained to do; but at the moment of truth, he could not bring himself to pull the trigger.” (Paragraph 16) Through countless hours of brainwash and training, the resistance in our midbrain kicks in thus proving that killing is unnatural.

3. The three methods the military uses to train it soldiers to kill are: brutalization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning. Brutalization he claims is what happens at boot camp. He says, “From the moment you step off the bus, you are physically and verbally abused: countless push-ups, endless hours at attention or running with heavy loads…” (Paragraph 21) It forces you to accept a new set of values which embrace violence and death as a way of life. Classical condition is similar to the case of Pavlov’s dogs they teach in Psychology 101. This condition forces you to associate things such as violence with whatever the military wants violence to be associated with. For example, in A Clockwork Orange, “a brutal sociopath, a mass murderer, is strapped to a chair and forced to watch violent movies while he is injected with a drug that nauseates him… After hundreds of repetitions of this, he associates violent with nausea.” (Paragraph 30) The third method the military uses is operant conditioning which is mostly related to video games because it conditions repetitive procedures of stimulus-response. Such as, “

4. Grossman give’s plenty of examples of how we train normal aged people to kill. He uses the example of the stimulus response training soldiers experience and compares it to the same “training” kids acquire from video games. This idea is made apparent when he concludes, “…every time a child plays an interactive point-and-shoot video game, he is learning the exact same conditioned reflex and motor skills.” (Paragraph 37) Earlier, he said people will do what they have been conditioned to do in a state of fright or anger. For instance, in South Carolina there was a kid facing the death penalty for murdering a father of two. The boy and his friend thought it would be funny to rob a store and ended up killing a man. When the boy was asks why he killed the man he says, “ I don’t know. It was a mistake. It wasn’t supposed to happen.” (Paragraph 38) He never intended to do what he did that day, it was a natural reaction he had developed from video games. When experiencing intense moments whilst playing video games, your heart rate increases. Because of this, every time your heart rate increases, you get sparks of stimulus that sets you off. This idea is made apparent when he concludes, “…kids who have never picked up a gun in their lives pick up a real gun and are incredibly accurate. Why? Video games.” (Paragraph 41) In conclusion we are training our kids to kill by allowing them to train via the media but mainly video games.

Analyzing Meaning

1. In the United States, Grossman believes, “the first is the increased imprisonment of violent offenders.” (Paragraph 4) Likewise if it weren’t for the high imprisonment rate, the assault and murder rate would undoubtedly be even higher. The second factor Grossman believes is controlling the murder rate in the United States is advancement of medical technology. Over a long period of time our knowledge of science has been enlightened and it has reflected our medical technology. We now have a much higher chance of saving people from injuries than we did back in World War II. According to the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, “a wound that would have killed nine out of ten soldiers in World War II, nine out of ten could have survived in Vietnam.” (Paragraph 5) Therefore this shows, as bad as it is, without these two factors the murder rate would be worse.

2. The techniques used in video games are similar to the techniques taught in military training in a sense that they both derive from operant conditioning. In military training, soldiers are taught to point and shoot in a split second as soon as something pops into the field of view. This same technique is reflected in video games, players are trained to shoot anything and everything they see. Grossman asserts that this technique uses a lot of stimulus repetition. He repeats, “Stimulus-response, Stimulus-response, Stimulus-response.” (Paragraph 34) In correspondence to this, he reasons, “We know that 75 to 80 percent of the shooting on the modern battlefield is the result of this kind of stimulus-response training.” (Paragraph 36) Thus the stimulus-response training in video games parallels the operant conditioning received in the military.

Discovering Rhetorical Strategies

1. Grossman’s purpose is to persuade parents about the dangers of the violence influenced by the media. He could possibly be requesting government action. For example, “When young children see somebody shot, stabbed, raped, brutalized, degraded, or murdered on TV, to them it is as though it were actually happening.” (Paragraph 23) By talking about the effects influence of violence has on children, it grabs the attention of mothers and fathers. But not only parents, but people who are concerned about the future of the country and the direction it should be going in. The main purpose is to abolish video game or video game access at least. For instance, “We run into these situations often—kids who have never picked up a gun in their lives pick up a real gun and are incredibly accurate. Why? Video games.” (Paragraph 41) Fact is, whether it’s dangerous for our kids or not, video games aren’t going to go anywhere. Still, parents have the ability to disallow video games towards their children.

2. I believe this essay would have a major impact on parents. It gives them much concern to an idea that they probably were not aware of when they were buying these rated M for mature games for their children. Grossman claims, “…a child can watch something happening on television and mimic that action.” (Paragraph 22) This would concern parents who have infants. They wouldn’t want their kid mimicking actions from action movies. He also talks about how the media messes with their psychological development. Grossman proceeds, “Can you remember a point in your life or in your children’s lives when dreams, reality, and television were all jumbled together? That’s what it is like to be at that level of psychological development. That’s what the media are doing to them.” (Paragraph 24) Due to this, it raises the interest of perhaps some of the younger parents with infants and young children.

3. This essay will expand the knowledge parents have on what they considered to be the media. Instead of the operant conditioning, we are doing the exact opposite. For instance, Grossman states, “Our children watch vivid pictures of human suffering and death, and they learn to associate it with their favorite soft drink and candy bar, or their girlfriend’s perfume.”

(Paragraph 31) This idea is clearly shown when Grossman asks’ a teacher of the reaction of her students after she told them about the middle school shooting and the teacher says, “They laughed.” (Paragraph 32) The kids don’t realize the seriousness of an event such as a recent school shooting because they are constantly conditioned to identify in this way. In brief, kids are associating horrible, violent things with laughter and giggles.

4. Grossman’s point of view is that the everyday media which we use influences violence and also that we are not protecting our children from these influences. He refers back to his experience in the military to describe how it influences our children. For instance, “But it does not come naturally; you have to be taught to kill. And just as the army is conditioning people to kill, we are indiscriminately doing the same thing to our children, but without the safeguards.” (Paragraph 8) In other words, killing is not natural and our kids are learning it from abuse and violence, violence as entertainment in television, the movies, and video games.

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Prose Reader “We Are Training Our Kids to Kill”. (2017, Jan 18). Retrieved from

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