A new take on TV violence

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Television violence struck home last week -- our home.

It started innocently enough. Bailey was home sick from school. She was resting on the living room floor, calmly watching TV. Then disaster struck.

She apparently pushed her feet against the bottom of the 32-inch television set, causing the set to topple onto her legs.

Her right ankle took the brunt of the TV violence. She called out screaming in pain.

By the time I reached the front room, I imagined all sorts of mayhem. I pictured Bailey crushed under the TV set, the screen shattered into pieces. I hoped I wouldn't have to call in criminal investigators to piece together clues to the catastrophe.

I prayed there wouldn't be a lot of blood.

I found Bailey seated on the couch, crying in pain.

She had managed to pull her leg out from under the television set and crawl to the couch. I figured she might have a broken leg.

I helped her to the van and took her straight to the emergency room at Southeast Missouri Hospital.

I borrowed a wheelchair and wheeled her into the emergency room lobby where I had to explain to the staff that my daughter had been injured by our vicious living room TV. The emergency room nurses said such an injury was unique.

No, they hadn't seen an epidemic of psychopathic TV sets wreaking havoc on the community's children.

Even Bailey admitted the injury was strange. None of our friends had heard of such a thing. Fortunately for Bailey, the foot wasn't broken. It was, however, badly bruised.

Since then, she's been getting around on crutches and a special soft shoe. Her ordeal has become the stuff of legends among her fourth-grade friends. They're amazed she survived.

Bailey's sister, Becca, also voiced concern when she first heard the news. "Dad, is the TV set OK?" asked Becca.

I told her the set survived. She was relieved. Of course, I think she also was glad that Bailey wasn't crippled.

For decades, Americans have been warned about the problems posed by TV violence. But I figured that was only on the TV programs.

I never expected that television could lead to personal injury.

All these years, the TV set has been entertaining us from its perch on the family hope chest.

I never thought of it as an assailant until now.

Thankfully, TVs come with remote controls so you don't have to get too close.

I've instructed Bailey to avoid getting near any of our television sets. "Use the remote control," I advise her. "It's safer that way."

It's either that or I'll have to wrap her up in a Michelin tire costume to protect her from the big black box.

The living room TV is now back atop the hope chest. It survived without a scratch.

Bailey said the TV survived because it fell on her foot. But the TV set seems indestructible to me.

I'm more careful now when I walk in front of the set, as if it's some sort of alien creature that I don't want to wake up for fear it might attack me.

The ordeal has had an effect on our family: We're solidly against TV violence when it comes into our living room.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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