How to Talk to Kids About the NFL Controversy


Amid all the headlines about Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, a small segment of the population has been left out—a very small segment. Children. How can parents reconcile and explain the violent behavior of athletes who appear to be heroes for so many kids?

ESPN anchor (and mom of three) Hannah Storm gave an emotional monologue this week asking: “Are fans and are families, are we as parents supposed to compartmentalize everything that’s happening? Are we supposed to simply separate a violent game on the field from violent acts off the field? And if we do, what message does that send?”

NO MORE says no way: The recent NFL incidents aren’t a reason to compartmentalize. They’re a chance to talk to our children about right from wrong; about actions and consequences. These lessons begin at home, in the backyard, at a Friday night game, or after a night of TV. We reached out to parents across the country to find out what they’re telling their children about the NFL.

Are fans and are families, are we as parents supposed to compartmentalize everything that’s happening?

This isn’t an exclusive problem within the NFL. It’s America’s problem, and we haven’t talked enough about it. I have a wife and daughter whom I love. The NFL has a pulpit and the right target audience to make a difference. The league has the power to send a message that this can’t be tolerated– Allan Telio

Why is [Hannah Storm] looking to the NFL for answers in talking to her children? Shouldn’t she be telling her children that it doesn’t matter what others think, it matters what they themselves do? …They are worthy of respect. [Storm should] use the NFL’s actions or inactions as in opportunity to teach her children to be their own person. – Larissa L. Chmielewski

I tell my sons that one punch, one kick, one shove is too many. I tell them real men don’t hit, with their fists or their words.

I tell my sons that one punch, one kick, one shove is too many. I tell them real men don’t hit, with their fists or their words. I tell them I love them, but if they ever put their hands on a girl, I’ll be the first one to call the police and I’ll visit them in prison every week. I tell them the opposite of all they witnessed while I lived with their dad.

I’ve gone through counseling and I’ve changed; I don’t recognize that woman anymore. If he hits you once, he’ll hit you again; violence will escalate until it’s every month, every week, every day, every hour… Real love doesn’t hurt, no matter how many times he cries and says he’s sorry. – Marcie L. Williams

I am not a parent, but I did teach at an inner-city elementary school and … you could already get a sense of who had experienced domestic violence. Young boys who would grab their classmates’ hair or clothes and hit them on the ground; young girls who would kick, spit, and cuss at their classmates for “disrespecting them”; or kids who would become violent with the staff when asked to do certain things.

We held discussion circles every Friday on acceptable, appropriate, and efficient ways to address and express anger, along with giving the students the chance to share stories of any form of DV they had experienced, the way it made them feel. I was so surprised by the number of students who physically or verbally express anger or frustration negatively and harmfully on others without realizing they were doing so at such young ages. And I was so proud of my kids when, by the end of the summer, the number of outbursts, fights, and referrals given because of such situations had decreased so noticeably. – Anna Vinopal

It’s never OK to strike a partner — never.

I’ve always told my now 21-year-old son that “no means no” whenever it’s said in the course of events. If she says “no” at any time, he is to immediately stop. And it’s never OK to strike his partner—never. My heart sang when, in high school, he related a conversation he’d had with a female friend. The girl was dating a new boy and, when listing his virtues, she said, ‘And he doesn’t hit girls.’ My son’s reply? ‘Shouldn’t that be a given?’” — Jon Anne Doty

It’s a tough conversation to have with your children. We explained why you should never be mean to anyone and certainly never hit or hurt anyone. Explained to them that while if they do it now they may end up in timeout or lose a privilege, when they are older, the consequences are much more severe and you could lose everything. They agreed that you should never hit anyone, ‘especially a girl,’ my son said, and that Ray Rice should not be a Raven anymore. – Bryan Bartlett, as quoted in The Baltimore Sun.

Note: Last week, more people Googled “domestic violence hotline” than any week in the past year. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. For more on talking to your children about violence, visit the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence


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