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Social Issues

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Youth Violence and Television

Youth Violence Do The Young Ever Listen? It would be safe to say that American society is preoccupied with Television. If one asks the question, "How much violence is on television?" One finds that the level of violence has remained relatively constant over the last 2 decades. Most of the violence is directed mainly to the young viewers. All most all the television show depict violence in one form or another. If an average child watches 2 to 4 hours of television a day, then by the time he/she is in high school he/she would have seen over 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 acts of violence (Eron et al., 220). Recent research acknowledges that televised violence is related to the aggressive behavior of many children and adolescents. The major new factor responsible for this is the marketing of visual media violence to kids. There is a link between media violence and violence in our society. Everyone knows about the cancer report, but no one knows about the media report. Why? For decades, if you asked tobacco executives about the link between their product and cancer, they lied. If you ask media executives about the link between their product and violent crime, they will do exactly the same thing--and they control the public airwaves. Here is what they don't want you to know: In Perspective On Violence (Grossman). , A review of almost 1,000 studies, presented to the American College of Forensic Psychiatry in 1998, found that all but 18 demonstrated that screen violence leads to real violence, and 12 of those 18 were funded by the television industry. In 1992, the American Psychological Assn. concluded that 40 years of research on the link between TV violence and real-life violence has been ignored, stating that the "scientific debate is over" and calling for federal policy to protect society. "Surly, not every kid who partakes of violent TV shows, movies or video games will become a violent criminal. But can't we do a better job with the next generation?" (Grossman ). Sure, not every kid who partakes of violent TV shows, movies or video games will become a violent criminal. In School Violence Expert Focuses on Prevention, it's stated that as horrible as the nation's spate of school shootings has been for students, parents and administrators, it has been a benefit for Mr. Stephens, [an expert on School violence] head of the National School Safety Center in this wealthy, rural Los Angeles suburb just east of Malibu. He has become one of the nation's most widely quoted authorities on school violence. Last May, a month after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Mr. Stephens appeared on television 25 times. His writings on school safety have been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, from USA Today to the Journal of the American Medical Association. He crisscrosses the country, giving workshops on school violence, training administrators to watch for volatile youngsters and inspecting their schools for security and evaluating their evacuation plans. ''The tragedy at Columbine High School has underscored how much work remains to be done,'' said Mr. Stephens, a trim, graying man of 52.Schools, Mr. Stephens hastens to say, remain relatively safe .The effects of violent media broadcasts are that 22-34% of young male felons imprisoned for committing violent crimes [homocide, rape, assault...] report having consciously imitated crime techniques watched on TV. The effect of prolonged childhood exposure to television shows a positive relationship between earlier exposure to TV violence and later physical aggressiveness. The most critical time for the youth to be exposed is in their pre-adolescent childhood. Studies conclude that viewing certain program of violence increase aggression in the youth, making them more fearful and less trusting and desensitizing them to violent behavior by other people (Collins) Statistics in The Mass Media and Youth Aggression, states, "Today about 5 out of every 20 robbery arrests and 3 of every 20 murder, rape, and aggravated assault arrests are of juveniles. In raw numbers, this translates into 3,000 murder, 6,000 forcible rape, 41,000 robbery, and 65,000 aggravated assault arrests of youths annually. Violence is sometimes socially sanctioned, particularly within the U.S: Youth culture is the target audience of the most prominently violent media. Although the media cannot criminalize someone not having criminal predispositions, media-generated, copy-cat crime is a significant criminal phenomenon with ample anecdotal and case evidence providing a form for criminality to take. The recurring mimicking of dangerous film stunts belies the argument of the media having only positive behavioral effects. It is apparent that while the media alone cannot make someone a criminal, it can change the criminal behavior of a predisposed offender. (245) As the made-for-TV movie industry reflects, violent behavior sometimes results in the creation of more violent media. Finally, by providing live models of violence and creating community and home environments that are more inured to and tolerant of violence, violent behavior helps to create more violently predisposed youth in society. Therefore, while the direct effect of media on violence may not be initially large, its influence cycles through the model and accumulates. In Mass Media and Aggression, it's stated that there are three sources of youth violence that government policy can influence. In order of importance, they are: extreme differences in economic conditions and the concentration of wealth in America; the American gun culture; and, exacerbating the problems created by the first two, the media's violence-enhancing messages. Family, neighborhood, and personality factors may be more important for generating violence in absolute magnitude, but they are not easily influenced by public actions. Currently, the debate concerning both the media and youth violence has evolved into "circles of blame" in which one group ascribes blame for the problem to someone else in the circle. Thus, in the media circle, the public blames the networks and studios, which blame the producers and writers, who blame the advertisers, who blame the public.

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