Jones believes in letting kids roughhouse and blow off some steam, even if it means knocking pillows and blankets out of place.
That very belief is at the heart of the recently published ``Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence'' (Basic Books, $25).
The premise of Mr. Jones' book is directly opposite to the conventional wisdom embraced over the past 30 years or so by researchers, psychologists, educators and parents.
Mr. Jones contends that the fantasy violence in entertainment -- comic books, popular fiction, video games, television shows, music and movies -- is not bad for children.
In fact, he says these action heroes and adventure games actually help children overcome their own fears and develop a stronger sense of themselves.
So if your kids are lining up to see ``Star Wars: Episode II'' for the fifth time or have rented the Spider-Man video game based on the box office hit ``Spider-Man'' enough times to own it, that's nothing to worry about by his reckoning.
Mr. Jones does know a thing or two about action heroes: He has written for comic books and for the screen, with credits that include ``Batman,'' ``Spider-Man'' and ``Pokemon.''
To support his argument, Mr. Jones draws on his own experiences conducting comic-book drawing workshops with schoolchildren and from interviews with experts in child psychiatry, psychology and children and the media.
Once his son went into his room and Mr. Jones had some quiet time to talk, he answered a few questions about his book and his theories.
Question: Why do children need fantasy violence?
Answer: ``In a world where kids don't get to express anger much or their desire to be more powerful, they need a fantasy land where they can explore the opposite and be the opposite. Life is a little less secure for kids, things change faster for kids. Kids today are more aware of real violence. They see it on the news. It's more intense and more explicit than it used to be. So they have more real concerns. The more real stuff they have to worry about, the more they need stories about the same thing that can help them make some sense out of it, help them feel more in control over it.''
Q: You say in the book that the attraction of entertainment violence is more about action, power and mastering life than it is about attraction to violence. Can you explain what you mean?
A: ``Sometimes when we look at something like a bloody video game, the thing that adults notice is the blood, the violence. What gets lost is that the basic story is about suspense, about being the underdog and overcoming huge odds, about being the good guy or the sympathetic character.''
Q: So you're saying violence in entertainment doesn't desensitize kids, contrary to popular belief?
A: ``It's understandable to worry about that, but there really is no evidence of that. Some kids do get overexcited by it, or use it to malicious purpose. But I've never seen any evidence in the research or from the people I've talked to that because kids see too much violence on TV or in the movies that they cease to react to real violence.''
Q: What about all the research that has been telling us for years that today's children are more violent because of the TV shows, video games, music and other influences of pop culture?
A: ``Most of it is misinterpretation coming from our worries. There are some kids who don't handle this stuff well. But they are already angry and looking for something to give some shape or focus to what they do. Most of lab tests show that kids who watch violent videos and then get up and act violently are play fighting. The researchers are missing the distinction.''
Q: Can you talk more about how children connect with the emotional content of entertainment and overlook the more literal messages?
A: ``Very nice kids and kids who want to be part of society often really love adventure stories with a kind of bad character. Clearly what they are connecting with is that thrill of being a bad guy for a while.
They're not learning anything morally from it, and don't want to. They're just connecting with the play aspect of it. They come home from school and want to escape to another world. In a way, they're more honest about who they are than we let them be.''
Dominique Harrison-Bentzen, 22, was so touched by the man’s gesture of kindness, she is now spending 24 hours on the street to raise money for him to rent his own apartment.