A Mother’s Take on Kony 2012

The Internet is an amazing tool. A powerful weapon. So, chances are you have seen the Kony 2012 video that went viral today. If for some reason you have been living under a rock today or lost your power up until now, here’s a brief re-cap.

The video is produced by a charity called Invisible Children. The purpose of the video is to create awareness about Joseph Kony, the leader of a rebel group in Uganda who kidnaps kids and turns them into kid soldiers. It’s no doubt that he’s a murderer, rapist, and well…pure evil.  The story of Jacob, a child fleeing Kony, is littered among the films’ images mixed in with the narrator’s images of his own son.

It’s no surprise that there has been a huge backlash against this video for some pretty compelling reasons. It seems that the organization behind it is sketchy at best. There’s a ton of criticism being launched at the creators of the film for their motives and also the misrepresentation of the issue. The Internet is blazing with all of it. You really should check out it.

Here’s my take on Kony 2012 for what it’s worth:

  1. No one has mentioned the fact that the narrator films the moment in which he tells his son about his job in Africa. He does so by presenting his son with photographs and a description that the “bad guy steals children and then makes the children have to kill other people.” Um…his son is probably four years old. Maybe 5. This is completely inappropriate. And if this boy is indeed his son, I’m not sure what parent would knowingly and willingly shatter their child’s innocence by telling them that there is a bad man in the world who steals children and makes them kill. Not cool.
  2. It is difficult to watch the images of the massive numbers of children hiding out from Kony. All I can think of is that all of those children have a mother somewhere who is weeping for them to be returned. Or dead.
  3. We are spoiled, spoiled Americans. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the film, it remains that these atrocities are occurring. Mothers in Uganda have to worry about their children being ripped from their homes, terrorized, forced to become sex slaves, and tortured. This is what they have to contend with on a daily basis. Do you know what the topics of conversations were at the park today in America? We are concerned with what preschool our child got into and discussing the hazards of high fructose corn syrup. Hmm…
  4. Do you know the biggest problems in our country this week? Everyone is in an uproar because Rush Limbaugh called a single lawyer a slut. And we are arguing about who will be the best candidate in an upcoming election. I’d say we have some pretty high quality problems her in America.

What were some of your reactions about Kony 2012? Was I the only mom who was appalled at the scenes in which the narrator talks about killing with his four year old son?

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24 Responses to A Mother’s Take on Kony 2012

  1. Drew says:

    Perhaps he wants his child to know from an early age what can be really bad in this world, so that when he’s an adult he will know better than to worry about the importance of articles about Rush Limbaugh or elections. To know there are worse and more important things out there. You don’t seem to be too great of a psychologist if you can’t link together 2 of your own complaints in this blog. There are awful things in this world no age is safe from. A child’s innocence is a fairy tale, it’s called enabling and babying when you attempt to retain this fairy tale.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment. Totally agree with you that a child’s innocence is not a fairy tale. I also do not think there would be anything wrong with a father having a difficult discussion with his son about the work that he does. However, most fathers would use age appropriate language in doing so. I don’t know any fathers who would explain the situation using “kill” to a child that young. And honestly at age four, a child is basically still a baby.

      • Alisia says:

        Yes, this is a terrible thing for a child to know but with the schemes that a young child has we need to accommodate their schemes but also remember that within their experience of being hurt the most they’ve (hopefully) been hurt is nothing more then a spanking or being yelled at so by saying that Kony is just a bad man that hurts people and little kids doesn’t have the same effect as Kony is a man that kills people and little kids. For a child would know that kill is permanent. That you can never undo death. They understand that as a serious thing. Yes, at 4 yrs old a child is still in their preoperational stage but they can still understand the seriousness of things before they hit their concrete operational stage. To say that their still just a baby, in my opinion is a little too protective because they never stop being YOUR baby. At what point would you draw a line and say they are old enough? Why should we wait until they are older to instill conventional moral reasoning? Maybe my experience as a child was different but even at a young age I had postconventional moral reasoning. As a young child, I was always telling others about things like recycling to save the planet and treating others nicely. I taught myself a lot about civil rights. I carried that into my middle school years. I even started telling my peers about earth hour and a day of silence. Now as a high school student I am more aware of more serious issues and am willing to battle against them. The older I get, the more I understand and the more tools I have to stand up against the injustice only because my parents encouraged me to keep being aware of the issues I felt so strongly about. I am only a special child if you labeled it that way. Every child could have the same experience I did if you just taught them. The children REALLY ARE our future and they cannot only make a big difference later but make a big difference NOW! And how great would it be to instill that type of power and confidence into a young child.

  2. Tianana says:

    That is the point that I turned it off. I couldn’t continue to watch how his son would take in the information that was about to be forced on him. What could the father have been thinking? Where the hell was the mother? I did not finish watching the rest of the film and I won’t.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Tianana. And how is it that the blond haired blue eyed boy was more present in the film than the boy Jacob from Uganda??

  3. Kat says:

    I too have seen the video and shared the link to it. I did because it was to share awareness of how others are treated. I noted we need to remember how lucky our children are. I’ve done research and given to charities that help kids everywhere and my daughter donates to UNICEF every year. That doesn’t make me better than anyone just means I want better for kids who don’t have it do easy. I even put a comment right under the video that some don’t like this charity and others don’t like different ones but to just do something. I did buy two bracelets, why? So if asked I can say “look into this and other stories of children in need and do something”. Thanks for posting.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Well said, Kat. Also, it did succeed in getting everyone to have conversations about various charities and how to get involved. This is certainly something I wouldn’t have been talking about if it hadn’t been for the video.

  4. I thought the part where he tells his son was over the top — although I think people have very different lines and the director-dad is pretty immersed in the subject so his lines being different didn’t shock me.
    Either way, the issue with the L.R.A. is real (I’m not one of the “99%” (according to the movie) who didn’t know about the LRA and the child soldiers before viewing video), and I think the push to arrest Kony while the US is paying attention is a great one. Child soldiers is one of the saddest stories and kids are so easily ignored.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment, Alex. The issue is real. Most definitely. And none of us were talking about it like this until the video yesterday so something good certainly came out of it.

  5. Melanie says:

    Little kids will be exposed to far much worse things in school than simply his father telling him about this. I know this because I work in a school and classroom environment. I hear and see 2 to 3-year-olds chasing each other around with fake or make-believe weapons screaming “DIE! DIE!” It’s in simple nature for children to hear and know about people who are “bad.” If 4 and 5-year-old’s in Uganda are actually being killed, then why can’t our 4 and 5-year-old’s in the United States know and learn about it?

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comment, Melanie. Kids should absolutely know what is going on in other parts of the world. It is extremely important that they do. My only point is that they do so in an age-appropriate manner. That’s all. I have a toddler boy myself and his favorite thing to do is dress up as a Superhero and attack bad guys.

  6. Jayn says:

    Thanks for saying all this! I was wondering about the affect it may have on any sensitive person watching this, especially children! Then I thought they had to have practiced this part with his boy because many children cannot speak and answer as quickly and spontaneously without prior training. This child seemed well articulate and informed about more than we know. Second, all of these comments were wonderful! I do believe the world is changing! And, lastly, there have been movies on the troubles with badness in Africa for many years, trying to get the story out. The media has desensitized the world to a place where this type of story needs sensationalism and controversy to move it along. I could not watch beginning of Blood Diamond bc of violence. I ask GOD for help. Thanks Mommy Psychologist

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comments! I’m very curious and will be interested to see where this story takes us.

  7. Tianana says:

    So I did wind up watching the rest of the video and looking at the other information that is out there. I am more confused than when I started. The detractors seem to make good points about Invisible Children. I found Invisible Children’s answers to their detractors and they seem valid. I wish I had a way to really know what the whole truth is.

  8. Alisia says:

    I understand this is your opinion. I’m not saying your opinion is wrong. I cannot level with you as a mother because I am just a senior in high school but in my opinion the way he handled telling his son would be the best way to tell a young child something like that. I believe that if we are to raise awareness in the United States we need to be telling everyone. Yes, it is a scary thing for a child to know but the children in Uganda are the same age as his young boy and older and they are forced to be made aware of this. I think that from a young age we need to protect our children as much as we can but also remember that someday they are going to be subjected to this world. We need to be responsible about how we present things to them and tell them on a level they understand and let them know they are lucky to live where they are and that they are safe. Though we may try to protect them, keeping them from these issues isn’t necessarily protecting them. We need to instill security in our children but remind them that the world isn’t a safe place for all children. Its important that we teach our kids to stand up against the injustices in the world as well as their own community.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comments, Alisia. First, I am impressed with how articulate you are for a senior in high school! You provided a very compelling argument. I actually agree with everything that you said. I make an effort to teach my own son about what occurs in other parts of the world. Bad parts included. However, I do so using age appropriate language. In this situation, I would say “hurts other people really badly” rather than “kill.”

  9. KP says:

    What bothers me about KONY 2012 is that the LRA is no longer active in Uganda – and hasn’t been for 5 or 6 years. This is old, old news (and yes, it did make headlines in the US in 2002 when it was just starting to gain international attention). The LRA has moved into the Central African Republic, the DRC, and South Sudan. Northern Uganda is slowly healing from what Kony did – but Kony was a symptom of a larger problem: systemic corruption, lack of a stable government, and poverty. Killing a single individual is not the answer.

    I’m glad a lot more people are learning about the LRA… but KONY 2012 is spreading a lot of misinformation about the situation in Northern Uganda. I wish we could focus on how Northern Uganda is healing and rebuilding, not on a manhunt for a single individual who’s nowhere near Uganda.

  10. I have to vehemently disagree with your take on how the director spoke with his son. I found that he used VERY age appropriate language. At his son’s age, he most likely understands what the word “kill” means. Assuming he is like most preschoolers, he has watched the normal children’s shows and movies. And what is the premise of many of these programs? Kill the bad guy. It’s a very obvious reoccurring theme in children’s programming, especially movies. Thus, telling his son that a bad man is killing people is definitely understandable. Need another example? Our almost 4 year old understands that meat that people eat comes from killing an animal. We want him to be aware of his choices, and right now, he chooses not to eat meat. He chooses not to because he understands what it means to kill (to some extent), and he doesn’t think it’s right. Please don’t understand the comprehension of young children. Truly, they grasp more than you give them credit for.

    • underestimate* the comprehension

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comments, Megyn. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the level of children’s understanding. Hence, the reason I think Jason Russell’s discussions with his son were inappropriate. My son is three and he is immersed in the world of superheros. And yes, superheros kill the bad guys and so does my son in his play. It’s a basic good vs. evil theme and the good guy always wins. However, the dialogue between these two was more than just about a bad guy killing other people. He also addressed topics such as children being kidnapped and then killing their parents to his four year old son. I haven’t watched any Superhero cartoons where the parents get killed, let alone, by their own offspring. Why? Because it doesn’t fit with any schema that toddlers have of the world in which they live and it shouldn’t. Not at 4. It’s very simple to explain to young children the concept of killing bad guys. But this was not the case. He took it a step further. I wonder how he will explain his recent actions to his four year old. Honestly, any chance of credibility or integrity that Jason Russell may have had will probably be non-existent after today.

      • What’s wrong with the topics he discussed? Should we just allow our children to bask in the unreality of the good guy always winning? I prefer to take the road of allowing our children to fully understand reality. Who knows, maybe this child understands exactly what his dad is saying. Also, I don’t understand how you can clear up the discord between saying that Jason Russell tried to explain too much and allowing your son to act out killing scenarios. It’s ok to pretend to kill, but not ok to explain real life events to children? That doesn’t make any sense to me. We choose to be very upfront and honest with our children, even if it doesn’t paint the prettiest reality. Along with that, we redirect play that we find not in accordance with our views. Hopefully, our boys will grow up without that confusion that you are posing here.

        • Mommy Psychologist says:

          Thanks for your comments, Megyn. One of the things I really enjoy about blogging is the opportunity to discuss all of the different opinions and ideas that exist on any given topic. I always enjoy hearing a perspective that is quite different from the one that I hold. I appreciate your opposing viewpoint.

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