Many people have been debating over
the recent changes in television. Because the increasing juvenile
crime rate is blamed on the rise in television violence, many people
are pushing to regulate, or remove violence on television. There have
been many claims that television violence has affected the children.
Television violence does affect children contrary to the beliefs of
some people as many studies have proven. If there is something that
causes us to behave the way we do as human beings after viewing
violence on television, and then copying that behavior, where does
that leave us as a society on what to do with television as an
influential source in our behavior?
If a child will absorb something they
see many times over and over, then by the age of 18 an American Child
will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence
(Senate, 4). It is a well-known fact that many small children act out
their heroes from television soon after watching them. After watching
Ninja Turtles I have personally observed small children act out the
movie playing character roles from the movie. Research has shown by
following a group of 8 year-olds for 22 years, the children that had
increased levels of television viewing were more violent than the
other children. By increasing their television viewing time, they
were more likely to have committed a serious crime, to be more
aggressive while drinking, and to punish their children more harshly
than others. This study was not only true in the United States, but
in other countries as well. (Tepperman, 1) Also in a separate study
of young male felons who were imprisoned for committing crimes,
between one fourth, and one third admitted to consciously imitating
crime techniques they saw on television. (Tepperman, 1)
America is the nation with the most
violent television programming. Second on the list is Japan, so why
isn t Japan experiencing high juvenile crime rates like America?
Japan television violence is a different violence than American
violence. The characters seem to experience actual pain, and
suffering. A real-life situation with the bad guy committing the
crimes, and the good guys suffering the consequences of criminal
activity. (American, 1) In American programming the good guys are
rarely punished or put through pain, and even the bad guys are
punished only 62 percent of the time. (Tepperman, 2) It is clear that
America is set apart from other countries in the television
programming that it contains. There is a somewhat direct link between
television viewing, and crimes. Just in the average use of
television, violent crimes are viewed constantly. In 1992, from
observing 18 hours of all major kinds of programs, The Center for
Media and Public Affairs showed that 1,846 different scenes of
violence were noted, which translates into more than 10 violent
scenes per hour. A follow-up study in 1994 found a 41% increase in
violent scenes to 2,605, almost 15 scenes of violence per hour.
(Senate, 1) If there is a good violent crime scene such as a police
officer shooting a dangerous criminal to prevent them from harming
others, or violent act such as a fight between a police officer
trying to subdue a criminal, it makes no difference to the children.
(Ledingham, 1) The children simply see it as someone using force to
make the other person conform to their will. But although there is a
high level of television violence, it is not the television itself
that is bad, simply what is programmed into it. Research has shown
that children can learn a great amount from educational television
programming, possibly enough to outweigh the violence on television.
Many movies and television shows are
simply about a bad guy committing some form of a crime, and then the
good guys going out to hunt them down and kill them to get even.
There are some movies that rivet audiences without the high body
counts, and blood and gore such as Speed, and Crimson Tide. Then
there are movies that fall between these two categories. Movies such
as Boyz N the Hood deals with the reality of homicide, while
Schindler s List deals with genocide. Teens do not need to be
sheltered from these realities, because they will generally deal with
them directly or indirectly. Such movies as these give a story as it
would happen in real life. Showing how violence in that level exists,
but providing a positive influence to show alternative ways from that
as well as the results that follow from not taking the alternatives.
There is a substantial amount of
scientific evidence that points to television s violence having a
direct cause and effect on children. At least with respect to
television and movies, existing research already demonstrates a solid
link between media violence and the violent actions of our youth. Dr.
Leonard D. Eron, a senior research scientist and professor of
psychology at the University of Michigan, has estimated that
television alone is responsible for 10% of youth violence. (Senate,
2) Also, additional research has proven that television is
responsible for acting out violence in the home, as well as
increasing violent behavior, and antisocial activities. (Senate 3)
To argue with these facts, and proven
research is just as the Jeffery McIntyre, Federal Affairs Officer of
the American Psychological Association said, to argue against it, is
like arguing against gravity. Being that television s violence does
have an effect on people, children especially, we as adults need to
reconsider what we place for our younger generations to view. With
such a clear and distinct link between television violence and
real-life violence, there should be some regulation on what is shown
for the general public to view. All violent movies should not be
taken away or banned, as the people of the United States have the
right to free speech, and expression.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Media
Violence Volume 95, Number 6 Baltimore MD: AAP. June 1995, 949-951
Ledingham, Dr. Jean. The Effects of
Media Violence on Children. National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Lewis, Madeline. Media and The
Adolescent. The Blair Reader 3rd Ed. Laurie S. Kirszner & Stephen
R. Mandell Upper Saddle River NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999 358
Tepperman, Jean. Toxic Lessons.
Children s Advocate Jan.-Feb. 1997: 4+
US Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Media Violence 1992. Committee on the Judiciary. GPO, 1994
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