Music for thought: the ability to affect the

youth of today Comment by NATALIE QUINN WALKER, Blended Learning Tutor (Healthcare Management Programme) at Arden University

The entertainment industry of television and music has embedded itself into everyone’s life, and with modern technology, music has become more accessible. Music has become a tool for socialising and interacting with people with similar interests. However, the content of music videos has changed over the

years, with more sexual images and innuendos being introduced. More music videos contain images of weapons such as knives, violence, and even high-powered weapons. This could have a substantial impact on children and young

teenagers, who have access to music videos through a variety of platforms which often show sex and violence, creating intriguing ideas on the impressionable child’s mind. The American Academy of Paediatrics (2010) stated that children spend more time interacting with media than any other activity other than sleep. Nevertheless, music can also create a positive influence, correcting its approach and improve on the language used. The industry could use music platforms to improve young people’s well-being and provide them with a voice, as people relate to the lyrics of the song, focusing on positivity. Music has become part of our social and cultural identity, with

listeners wanting to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in their social circle. The idea of using music as a method to reduce crime may be considered unrealistic. However, many songs have repetitive aspects that would help to convey positive messages, openly discussing these matters. Thus, positive messages will become entwined in their daily lives, without them feeling as though they are being pressured or targeted with this information from professionals. Instead, a message of peace will be echoed by their favourite musician. Music has a positive effect on the brain, affecting people’s energy

levels and proactivity. By producing positive, reinforced music, young people will feel confident, empowered, and encouraged to chase their dreams. A new creative approach is needed to address many issues in our society. Where there is no suggestion that music therapy or positive messages in music will solve these issues. Branching out and trying multiple methods to tackle them could create a multi-layer approach, capturing all the different remits that may influence violent behaviour in society. Songs such as ‘Give peace a chance,’ ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon

and ‘Do they know it is Christmas?’, have influenced individuals into supporting charities and discussed the barriers set for people from different cultures, and how to overcome these. Therefore, creating more catchy song lyrics with powerful messages expressing peace and non-violent messages could become influential, as music is often considered an escape for people from their reality. So, to re- educate and empower our youth of today, positive music can be the start of the change and a positive step forward. Although music will not be changing everyone’s mindset, it may encourage and empower young people to focus on constructive factors.

Reference List: American Academy of Pediatrics (2010) How media can affect children’s health. [online]. Available at: press-room/Pages/How-Media-Can-Affect-Children's-Health.aspx

Editor’s Choice 2020

Tackling ‘toxic masculinity’ in

teenage boys Comment by JUSTYN PAGE, founder of First Round Fitness

As part of their Serious Violence Action Plan, Greater Manchester’s council and police chief commissioned a report that came out at the end of 2019 looking into how violence affects young people. The study found that peer pressure and a culture of ‘toxic masculinity’ increases the likelihood of teenage boys getting involved in serious crime.

The report concluded that schools should provide boys aged 12 –

13 with ‘anger management’ lessons to help manage aggression, understand peer pressures and ‘develop identities and aspirations which do not rely on violence or exploitation’. The report said that boys are being told more than ever that

‘retaliation is a strength and emotions other than aggression are feminine.’ It is perhaps not so surprising then that knife crime offences in Greater Manchester’s schools have risen by 108% since 2015. The link between young people getting involved in violence and

their academic abilities has recently been highlighted by statistics from the Department for Education, which revealed that 10 – 18-year olds who are convicted of possessing a knife are generally lower achievers academically – their GCSE scores are significantly lower than their classmates’ and statistics show that they are more likely to be expelled from school. There is no doubt that helping tackle aggression in teenage boys

should be at the top of schools’ priority lists, but is it realistic to expect that this will be achieved in a passive environment like a classroom? We find that working closely with schools to offer students

alternative ways of learning is an extremely effective way of promoting engagement amongst even the most disengaged students, as they learn key skills such as focus and determination by taking part in vigorous sporting exercises. While there are many creative, non-academic ways of facilitating

learning during school hours, we work with children to provide non- contact boxing sessions in a controlled environment. Not only does this go a long way in encouraging discipline, determination and drive amongst the children, it also provides them with a physical outlet through which they can drain excess energy. High energy physical release inevitably aids in emotional release too, helping drain built-up tension which might otherwise lead to aggression and violence. This is especially important during teenage years, when hormones are raging and emotions flaring. Children are more than ever associating their sense of self-worth

with their test scores. We argue that many students need to be challenged in alternative ways to produce the best holistic development. Such steps include vigorous exercise which pushes them to surpass their perceived physical and psychological barriers, which helps provide young people with a real sense of achievement. The mentality that is developed when pushing barriers and

building resilience creates cohesion during a safe and structured session, which inadvertently helps children learn to trust themselves to make better decisions. As young people’s attitudes towards learning and education shifts, we see a positive change in their behaviour, both in the classroom and at a social level. At a time when schools are under mounting pressure to help curb

teenage violence, they must look beyond the traditional academia- focused system to uncover alternative education services, which, crucially, are conducive to focussing the mind and developing control in young people. 15

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