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Television Violence: Entertaining Or Problematic?

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Television Violence: Entertaining or problematic?

"Exposure to violent media plays an important causal role in this societal problem' of youth violence.....'from a public health perspective, today's media consumption patterns are far from optimal. And for many children they are clearly harmful" (Leeds).

Previous Untied States Surgeon General David Satcher stated the above quote in a report released in Washing into in January 2001. He was the first surgeon general to turn the controversy over violence on television into a public health concern (Leeds). Violence on television has led to a legal debate due to its alleged link to crime. Hundreds of experiments and studies have proven that many violent crimes that occur in society have been learned from the violence depicted on television.

Children as young as a few weeks old learn by example. They imitate all behaviors, whether it's viewed on a television set or in public setting outside the home. Although they are smart enough to mimic a behavior, they are unable to distinguish between right and wrong. With the case of crime they cannot distinguish between appropriate and aggressive behavior. When children watch television they don't realize that it is a source of entertainment depicting fictional tales and characters. They see television as real as their own families. According to the article,

"As of 1990, the average American child aged 2 to 5 years was watching over 27 hours of television per week, however, up through ages 3 and 4 years, many children are unable to distinguish fact from fantasy in television programs and remain unable to do so despite adult coaching. In the minds of such young children, television is a source of entirely factually information regarding how the world works" (Centerwall).

Even though as children get older they begin to realize the difference between the two, the behaviors imposed on them as kids have become a part of their earliest memories. These manners could very easily be violent, illegal and dangerous.

In 1973, a Canadian town called "Notel" by researchers after overcoming a signal reception problem just acquired television for the first time. Because of this researchers believed this to be the best place for a research study. They found two communities with similar characteristics to act as control groups. What they were, over the course or two years they observed young children to find behavior changes dealing with aggression. When they compared them to the control groups, the Notel group experienced the most significant increase in aggressive behavior since being introduced to television (Centerwall). "Two years after the introduction of television, rates of physical aggression among children in Notel had increased by one hundred and sixty percent" (Centerwall). Through this study it is obvious that television influences children. Before the study the children of Notel behaved normal and rationally. It was not until the prolonged exposure to television that aggressive behavior significantly increased. This aggressive behavior is the foundation of every criminal activity.

Brandon S. Centerwall conducted a survey where he compared the murder rates of whites in the United States, Canada, and South Africa. South Africa didn't permit television until 1975 he was able to show how television is a casual factor of crime. Centerwall looked at 1974 statistic records and found that since the introduction of television during the 1950's in the United States, the white homicide rate increased by ninety-three percent and in Canada by ninety-two percent. While the white homicide rate in South Africa decreased by seven percent. This shows that a doubling of homicide rate has occurred since the introduction of television in the United States and Canada. It took roughly twenty-five years to double the homicide rates. According to Centerwall:

"Given that homicide is primarily an adult

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