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My 12-year-old nephew "Bob" took my 9-year-old son aside and showed him a video of ISIS beheading a victim. I am just flabbergasted that Bob would do that. Interestingly Bob did not show the video to my older child who is Bob's age. I suspect this is because my older son would stop him and inform the adults immediately.

My 9-year-old made me promise not to tell Bob off or to complain to his mother before he told me about the incident. I am not close to this nephew but understand from his mother that conventionally "scary" stuff does not bother him. Ghosts, blood, gore etc.

However I am very disturbed that he showed it to my little kid, and only to my little kid. Shouldn't he know better? It makes me feel like I should not leave him alone with my younger child. I shared my concerns with the grandfather, however grandpa is more concerned about Bob's wellbeing (he is losing weight) than my son's! Grandpa feels that it was just thoughtlessness on Bob's part.

Am I overreacting? If my older son had done that, he would have received a real shelling from me with phone privileges removed and the sender of the video blacklisted.


Update:

I realised what bothered me most was how manipulative Bob was. Bob basically sat my son down, said it was something that may be scary and he had the choice of whether or not he wanted to watch it without telling him it was a graphic video. When my son came to me, he emphasized that it was his own fault for deciding to watch it, and Bob was totally blameless.

After reading through the various responses and mulling for a few days, I finally sat my son down and told him

  1. nephew did not really give him a choice and he should smell a rat in future if anyone present him with incomplete information
  2. there is no shame in walking away from such videos at any point in time
  3. it was most definitely not his fault for watching it and to never pass such videos on.

I decided not to inform the parents as they are unlikely to do anything beyond mild chiding and I suspect Bob's dad treats him similarly, which is another can of worms. In other words, informing the parents will either make me angrier as a parent or reinforce an unhealthy environment for Bob.

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    "It makes me feel like I should not leave him alone with my younger child." That much seems clear, at least not until he has demonstrated understanding of how problematic his behaviour is. However, he clearly also needs help himself, probably professional. Having an interest in such material in the first place is already cause for concern. – user7953 Jan 31 '17 at 18:50
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    @fkraiem - To judge a 12 year old by adult standards, especially when one knows nothing else about him, seems to me to be unnecessarily harsh. But that's me. If everyone who can't look away from a trainwreck were in need of therapy, there's be a lot more therapists making a good living. And yes, I'm aware this is worse than a trainwreck. – anongoodnurse Jan 31 '17 at 20:29
  • @fkraiem - I do actually agree that he needs some help. He steals small objects, lets others take the blame for things he does and does not own up, but parents have been turning a blind eye to it - ie as long as he is not caught red-handed they will just not address it. I have been trying very hard to tell myself that he is not a bad kid at heart, but after this incident, I feel compelled to protect my own kids. – Stone Feb 8 '17 at 4:43
  • Thanks for telling us what you did and why. It sounds like you made a good choice. None of us will ever know all the shades of grey, so all we do is help you decide by sharing ideas and experiences of our own. That is why this site works -- not because there is one right answer, but because there are many partially right answers to choose from. – WRX Feb 9 '17 at 16:32
  • Nah, bob is just a bitch. Go talk to his parents or talk to him. Tell your child it’s the only way to educate his cousin. Don’t be so soft – Marybnq Apr 14 at 13:18
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Am I overreacting??

Possibly. Probably. To adults this act - showing a young person a beheading - is horrifying, because we know all that it means. But a child might not see it that way, especially if they are exposed to violence in games/TV shows, etc. It was probably sensational to your nephew and he wanted to impress someone else with his sensational find. Unless he has a pattern of bad behavior towards kids or animals, I'd let this one slide, but I'd keep a close eye out on their play together in the future.

Your relationship with your son must be very good for him to confide in you. He made you promise, and you did. I think that to go back on your promise has a real potential to backfire on you for limited returns; he might not confide in you in the future. If you show him that you respect his wishes enough to keep your promise, that will strengthen, not weaken, trust. However, you should talk with him about future disclosures, that confidences shouldn't require promises, and that sometimes an adult needs to do something that a child would find uncomfortable to keep everyone safe. Reassure him that in general, you are glad he trusts you, you will always be there for him, no matter what he tells you.*

As to dealing with what he saw, ask questions, listen to the answers, and go from there. Provide reassurance if needed of how vanishingly small the chances are that he or anyone he knows will meet a similar fate, and that watching that video only gives power to people who want him to be frightened.

*For example, my kids were not allowed to drink alcohol illegally. If they did and were having trouble, however, or were with friends/drivers who drank/were intoxicated, we would come get them no questions asked. This actually paid off, interestingly, when a friend of my son's called me to pick him up because he was high and too scared to drive.

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    I think that to go back on your promise has a real potential to backfire on you for limited returns; he might not confide in you in the future. If you show him that you respect his wishes enough to keep your promise, that will strengthen, not weaken, trust. However, you should talk with him about future disclosures. - You read my child correctly. Indeed he would have harped on it for the next few years! I will have that talk on future disclosures with him when he is more receptive. Thank you too for sharing on the drink driving issue. I will keep that in mind! – Stone Feb 8 '17 at 4:36
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I am of the opinion that we raise children as a family. This nephew is a minor child who has perhaps actually harmed his even younger cousin. Your son may have nightmares or fears that you may find yourself dealing with over the next period of time.

This was a complete lapse of judgement and your nephew needs to face the consequences. Your mistake was to agree to not tell. You are an adult and you know that you should not make promises that you may not be able to keep.

Now you show your son what we do when we make a mistake. You say, "I made a mistake. I am sorry but I made a promise to you that I cannot keep. I am telling you first and then we are going to tell N's parents about the ISIS video."

You know he has the right to be angry with you for making the promise and for not keeping it. You owe him a real apology for that.

The punishment for his actions is for N's parents to decide. This was a serious lapse of judgement and (imo) he should not have seen this vid even at 12. I'd take TV and computer privileges for a period of time -- but that would work for my kid, I do not know this child. Only you know if you trust N to be with your younger son alone, but if it were my decision, I'd wait a while.

As for the 9y/o, I'd give him plenty of opportunities to talk this over with you. I'd also point out that he knew he should not look at that video and that he can and should have stopped his cousin. He does not have to do anything that makes him uncomfortable or unhealthy or afraid when a peer or stranger is suggesting it. He is old enough to say a firm "NO!". As for his trauma or possible trauma, I have no clue how you handle it other than to listen, tell him he is okay and that he's loved. I've read that you should not promise safety, but I am not going to say that's the right way. I do not know.

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    " I'd also point out that he knew he should not look at that video and that he can and should have stopped his cousin. He does not have to do anything that makes him uncomfortable or unhealthy or afraid when a peer or stranger is suggesting it. He is old enough to say a firm "NO!". " - this here was very very helpful. I had that talk with him. Thank you! – Stone Feb 8 '17 at 4:32
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My 12-year-old nephew, N, took my 9-year-old son aside and showed him a video of ISIS beheading a victim. I am just flabbergasted that N would do that. Interestingly N did not show the video to my older child who is N's age. I suspect this is because my older son would stop him and inform the adults immediately.

My thought is what type of parent lets his / her child have videos like that. Seems rather reckless.

My 9 year old made me promise not to tell N off or to complain to his mother before he told me about the incident. I am not close to this nephew but understand from his mother that conventionally "scary" stuff does not bother him. Ghosts, blood, gore etc.

However I am very disturbed that he showed it to my little kid, and ONLY to my little kid. Shouldn't he know better?? It makes me feel like I should not leave him alone with my younger child. I shared my concerns with the grandfather, however, grandpa is more concerned about N's wellbeing (he is losing weight) than my son's! Grandpa feels that it was just thoughtlessness on N's part.

Am I overreacting?? If my older son had done that, he would have received a real shelling from me with phone privileges removed and the sender of the video blacklisted.

I would say that your response is totally justified. Parents can do the ostrich approach with their own children but when it starts to effect the children around them then it becomes other people's problem.

Having to do with a 12-year old that shows not just an interest in the macabre but even a tendency to want to share his 'excitement' with other children is really something to be concerned about.

You should talk about it with the child's parent and by thinking critically about the response you get you should decide if you want to have anything else to do with this family.

If the mother of the child is shocked and displeased by the behavior then you can consider keeping the ties but if the continue with the ostrich approach then it really is better for you and your son to just simply walk away.

I know it is hard because there may be some strong feelings of love between the family but still just simply walk away. As the other post mentions, this is the type of thing that can haunt children well into their adulthood and can have a far-reaching psychological effect on your child, you simply must make the hard choice.

You don't have control over your extended family's poor life decisions but you do have the choice to form part of it. If the son is going down a bad path and the parents don't want to make the hard decisions then that is their prerogative.

Lord knows as the teacher you see people make bad parenting decisions that you are often powerless to stop BUT! you can choose to be or not be a part of it.

Sometimes you just have to walk away.

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