Mr. Rogers Should Teach Today's Children About Guns
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Politics and Activism

Mr. Rogers Should Teach Today's Children About Guns

In the face of unspeakable tragedies, we can turn to the iconic children's show host to remind us how to be kind to each other

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Fred Rogers

In the past 48 hours, the United States has been shocked to the core with two unspeakable tragedies related to gun violence. El Paso and Dayton, Ohio unfortunately are not the first gun violence tragedies that hit our country. Since Sandy Hook Elementary School, there were 2,193 mass shootings that occurred and each and every time we have always said "Never again." However, kids growing up in this day and age are now desensitized to mass shootings. The breaking news banner could scroll across the television screen about another shooting and young viewers have the potential to not even bat an eye. It's heartbreaking to know that we are exposing the future of this country to the realities of violence and destruction and not even teaching them how to process these feelings in a manner that is healthy or appropriate.

The children's show icon, Mr. Fred Rogers, welcomed kids to the neighborhood of Make-Believe on February 19, 1968, a place where humans and puppets can gently explore their feelings, be it happiness or frustration, and children can actively learn how to deal with complex feelings of today's world. My sister (more than me) grew up with 'Mister Roger's Neighborhood,' and can say with some confidence that Fred Rogers made her (and probably many kids of the 90s' and 00') feel loved and accepted by all. Fred Rogers had such a way of being able to connect with his audience members in such a way that it impacts them to this day.

"It's ok to feel what you feel" was one of the first things that children saw on "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" when addressing how to process feelings of anger and frustration in the wake of the assassination of presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. Four months into "Mister Roger's Neighborhood," Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, leaving the country in disbelief. Rogers, in an attempt to help kids process their feelings with two assassinations in a 4-month span, taped and aired a special episode the day before Kennedy's funeral utilizing Lady Aberlin and Daniel the tiger. Daniel asks what does assassination mean to which Lady Aberlin gently explains that "it means somebody getting killed in a—a sort of surprise way." The lesson in just that one episode, is that everyone process their own feelings on gun violence but it is important the adults and children talk about these things in an open manner.

"I plead for your protection and support of your young children. There is just so much that a very young child can take," is the last line of this poignant episode that still speaks volumes to this day. For children to understand what it is like to live in a world where assassinations and mass shootings are the norm, there must be an outlet for them to start expressing themselves in order to know how they would relate to this world.

Fred Rogers has been an iconic figure in trying to teach children about gun violence since that fateful episode and he was successful to a certain degree. His show taught viewers the importance of talking about how you feel and that having control of these feelings is a good way to express them.

But how does it relate to gun violence today? The answer is mental health. When someone doesn't know that their environment, life, or whatever it is that makes them think that violence is the answer, they act upon it. Mister Rogers tells every viewer that they are his neighbor and that he loves them just the way they are. And he keeps on doing this for over 31 years. It's a simple message that every person should take responsibility of the vulnerable and that every person deserves to be loved. If many of the people that are implicated in these mass shootings were told that they were loved or given a helping hand, maybe we wouldn't be facing the tragedies that we are now.

That's why 'Mister Roger's Neighborhood' is so relevant today. There is a lot of lessons that the man teaches us about loving our neighbor, helping others, and accepting who you are. So many lessons that I believe that kids could benefit from today and hopefully we don't turn out a generation of kids who are apathetic and prone to violence (potentially).

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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