Affection with a Punch.

A kiss with a fist is better than none.

Influential violence towards children.

When a child is young, their minds are still very fragile, very fresh and very vulnerable. When a child sees another child eating dirt, they will immediately think it is the right thing to do and begin shovelling handfuls of grime into their mouths when they are feeling peckish. So when they witness violence on television, in the streets, or in their own households, their minds process these acts as appropriate behaviour. They can sometimes think that ‘it is okay to be loved and hurt at the same time’. Minor steps of imitation take place after this initial thought. It could start out with sounding out swear words, or not sharing food with that ‘different’ girl in their play group. A child growing up in an abusive household learns to solve their problems using violence rather than peaceful means. In a book titled ‘Serial Killers’ Joel Norris believes that parents “instil in them an almost instinctive reliance upon violence as a first result to any challenge.” Some parents believe that by being harsh disciplinarians it would ‘toughen’ the child. Instead, it often creates a lack of love. If a child does not bond with its primary caretakers there is no foundation for trusting others later in life. Typically when a child grows up they change; they start seeing the world differently, they make their own decisions and they develop their own habits. They begin to learn the appropriate times to express a swear word, and that ‘different’ girl could become their best friend. Although, if violence is surrounding them every step of the way, it influences the person they become. It is the child’s choice however, whether or not they will become a violent replica of their parents, or lead their own life and become ­­ the total opposite of what their caretakers taught them to become.

Violence in ‘The Black Balloon’

An adult’s behaviour is continuously being closely inspected by children.In The Black Balloon, upon arrival to their new home, they discover the neighbourhood is not as accepting of Charlie’s disorder. The Mollison’s neighbour, a mother, looks upon the family in disgust, while her young child calls Charlie a ‘spastic’. This behaviour continues as the movie progresses; while Charlie is enjoying his morning activity—sitting in the backyard whilst banging a wooden spoon on the ground—the neighbour again mistreats him by spraying the hose on him, expecting him to stop. This is by no means any way to treat a human being, and this childish conduct was coming from an adult. As if neighbourhood bullying was not enough, a misunderstanding leads Charlie to school with Thomas, where a group of boys decide to gang up on him. For a group of teenage boys—in the age range of fourteen up—to be mocking and distressing an autistic boy was purely horrifying and it displayed their lack of maturity and understanding of his disability. Although the violence mostly derived from individuals around him, there was a scene where Charlie, during a severe and distressful fight with his family, inflicts pain upon himself by pounding his head against the kitchen floor. This scene is a little more troubling to watch, because rather than others bullying him, he becomes his own victim and tormentor and he feels the burden of his disability on his family.

Re-education about violence

There is no doubt that re-educating children and adults about violence will benefit the way people treat each other. In The Black Balloon, if autism and other disabilities were being recognised and taught in depth it would help a lot of students understand the meaning behind why people like Charlie are the way they are. Although not just what the disability is, but also what causes it, how it feels to have it, the troubles people diagnosed have to endure daily and how others can help. There should also be another approach as to how violence is being recognised in and outside of school. Instead of, for example, teaching a woman how to dress in public, men should be taught to not rape. In a society where people are taught how to dress, how to speak, how to act, what to do, as to not provoke a potential attacker, it should be acceptable to be able to be yourself without the anxiety of being confronted. It would be pleasant to live in a society where no judgements were made on the vulnerable, and violence was not so publicised for the world to follow. It may be too late to change a society’s violence levels, but start by changing the minds of the young. Teach the new generations to be less judgemental and more humble and understanding of the world they live in.


My initial approach to this topic was to outline how violence is portrayed in the media in comparison to real life. For example, the guns in action movies compared to the real life teasing, bullying and self-inflicted pain outlined in ‘The Black Balloon’. Although, outlining issues such as the influence of child abuse, and re-educating schools about violence seemed like a more interesting approach. I had trouble finding images to support my discussion, so the still shots of the movies could have been clearer and more detailed. I chose the first image because it shows the children onlooking Charlie sitting on the ground with his wooden spoon, and it is the scene when the neighbour calls him a 'spastic'. The next three images were chosen purely to show the bullying and harassment that took place during the movie. In the first two shots, Charlie gets off his bus and follows Thomas to school, where the boys decide to gang up on him and torment him. The third image shows Maggie restrains Charlie when he bangs his head against the floor during an aggressive argument with Thomas. All four images were chosen to represent the violence in The Black Balloon.