2013-03-11 / Front Page

Media literacy forum planned in Bath

By LARRY GRARD, Times Record Staff

BATH

Media literacy for young people is such an important issue, Cantor Daniel Leeman believes, that Beth Israel Congregation will urge the general public to attend an upcoming symposium.

And so on April 7, at 11 a.m., everyone is welcome to attend a session entitled, “Media Literacy Effective in Reducing Violent Behaviors in Youth.” There’s room to seat 500 people at the synagogue on 862 Washington St., and the session is free, so Leeman wants to get the word out early.

“The whole country wants to reduce the violence in our schools and in our society, and we start with the children,” Leeman said. “We want the community to know about this because we feel we’re providing a service not only to our congregation, but to the community as a whole.”

Rokna Zlokower, executive director of Media Power Youth in Manchester, N.H., will be the featured speaker on April 7. Zlokower will address the mounting concerns of the media’s influence on real-life violence following the tragic events of Sandy Hook, the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered on Dec. 14.

Leeman noted that Beth Israel had arranged for the Media Power Youth conference following the murders at Aurora, Colo., — prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy. On Jan. 5, two men and one woman were found dead inside a home in Aurora, Colo., after a gunman took them hostage. The killings marked another shooting tragedy for Aurora, a suburb still reeling from the 2012 summer shooting in which a gunman entered a theater, killing 12 people and wounding 58 others.

“The goal really is to empower children to think closely about their won choices with the media — to empower children and to assist parents with that,” Leeman said. “People are using these media in unhealthy ways.”

What media? It’s not just television anymore. Far from it. The Internet, available in its many shapes and forms, and sophisticated phones are today’s media for this country’s youth. 

Zlokower has participated in and led public/private partnerships in the healthcare, corporate and nonprofit sectors for 35 years. In 200, she created MediaSmart with Selma Deitch, MD, founder of Child Health Services.

In 2007, under Zlokower’s leadership, the program became Media Power Youth, which guides parents and professionals to empower youth to succeed in school and make healthy choices through smart use of the media.

Zlokower maintains that many of the young perpetrators of school shootings and other violent acts spent considerable time viewing and participating in violent media.

“While children appear to be technologically savvy, research shows they lack the maturity, judgment and critical thinking skills to avoid at-risk behaviors encouraged and portrayed by media and other use,” she said.

In its presentations, Media Power Youth provides an engaging series of lessons for building media literary skills while making healthy choices.

Leeman knows what to expect of Zlokower.

“I went to undergraduate school with her,” he said. “She’s a gentle, intelligent and thoughtful woman.”

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