Poison Prevention Awareness

    Concerned about the number of kids accidentally consuming poisons in their homes, government and industry designated a national "Poison Prevention Awareness Week." Some thirty children die every year in this country from accidental poisoning, and this is a first step to protect America's kids. During Poison Prevention Awareness Week, parents are informed about the dangers of furniture polish, mouthwash, glue, cough medicine, drain cleaner, and other poisonous household products. Government distributes information, conducts seminars, and urges poison control centers, public health officers, and parents to help protect kids from poisons. "Children act fast," say the warnings. "So do poisons!" Well, I congratulate all those concerned citizens for caring so deeply about the safety of our kids. As a society, we do need to be aware of poisons that can cripple and kill young bodies. Children don't always recognize the dangers that lurk beneath the kitchen cabinet, and products that endanger their health should be kept out of reach. But, if we're really concerned about our kids' well- being, what are we doing about the poisons that seep into their minds? Pornography on the Internet, for example, or television violence and degrading video games. These "poisons" may not destroy kids' bodies, but they certainly do destroy their minds. In most homes today, TV has center stage. Kids can tune in to sexual filth, profanity, gut-wrenching violence, heart-stopping horror, and half-naked models promoting everything from toothpaste to toilet paper! Some children have unlimited access to Howard Stern . . . in their own bedrooms. Kids have personal computers, too, and pornography beckons them through e-mail. Internet websites can teach them how to build a bomb or become a Nazi. Chat rooms can expose them to predators - pedophiles and worse. And more and more video games are teaching kids to kill, maim, and blow things up, all in the name of fun! Recently we learned about a new game called Dope Wars 2.0. In this "game," children become virtual drug kingpins who fight bloody battles over narcotics. The "game" teaches kids how to buy cocaine at bargain prices, and sell it on the street! Virtual cops who get in the way are slaughtered. The goal is to buy drugs at low prices and then sell them at high prices -- and do whatever it takes to protect their profits. In his research on "killology," as I reported in February, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor, found that today's video games teach kids that killing is okay, and that a well- aimed bullet solves problems. In his book, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, Grossman warns that video games hone instincts that can have dangerous social consequences. Games like Dope Wars take it a step farther. "It's just a game!" promoters claim. But can games like this impact children in negative ways? Absolutely. They show kids how to exploit others, and how to solve problems with guns and knives. If we're concerned about children consuming furniture polish, shouldn't we be concerned about the poisons that enter their minds? Yes, we should. And the best prevention is to give our kids a biblical worldview that teaches kids how to avoid the poisons that destroy, not just their bodies, but more importantly their minds and souls as well. ==================== For further reading: "40th Observance of National Poison Prevention Week." U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, March 15, 2001. Reporter Jim Axelrod. "Could Mom be a Drug Lord?" CBS News feature on the video game, "Dope Wars 2.0." March 19, 2001.


Chuck Colson


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