Media Violence And Children Essay, Research Paper
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. (Ledingham, 2)
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. (Levine, 358)
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 July. 1989
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