r ElseAmericans Must Give Up TV Violence For the Kids, Or ElseTo the unsuspecting eye, this nation’s response and reaction to the risein number of violent acts committed by teenagers could be described asappropriately overwhelming, but when examined more closely, does Americareally care? When examined in a general sense, violence has declined overallin the US but has risen among teens (Hunt 651). Who is to blame and howare we trying to prevent youth crime and teen promiscuity? A New YorkTimes poll in 1995 reported only 21 percent of those who were surveyedactually put the blame on television (Hirschorn 643).
Both those who cite TVand popular music as the source of teen aggression and those who disagreehave reasons to do so. There is valid proof behind both points of view but Ifirmly believe there is a direct cause/effect relationship between what childrenview on TV and how they act in the real world. Research, which I willdiscuss, conducted in both England and the US proves to me beyondreasonable doubt that violent television programs either directly or indirectlyeffect children and I think the government should take a more active role inyouth crime prevention.
Though some of the evidence that supports my beliefs has been viewedas circumstantial, it is too valuable to be ignored. Brandon Centerwall, aprofessor at the University of Washington, summarized some of the evidencein an article in the Spring 1993 issue of The Public Interest. His researchfindings focused on instances circa 1975 when television was introduced torural Canadian and South African communities. In both countries, there wasa significantly noticeable increase in violent crime committed by the young(Kristol 641). “Professor Centerwall also notes that when TV was introducedin the United States after World War II, the homicide rated among whites,who were the first to buy sets, began to rise, while the black homicide ratedidn’t show any such increase until four years later” (Kristol 641). Such factshighlight the probability that what children watch, they copy. It isunadmirable to count such evidence as circumstantial, but those who examinethe facts in a broad sense, look over the specific fields in where the increasesor decreases occur. According to Centerwall, if television was neverinvented, the United States would have 10,000 fewer homicides (Kristol 642). A study conducted in England also supports that violent television hasan effect on children. English Parliament introduced legislation to limit theavailability of violence-rich videos in 1994 after the study, conducted by aprofessor from Nottingham University, was released. The professor, namedElizabeth Newson, cited evidence that proved the effects on children fromviolent TV programming. The report was signed by twenty-fivepsychologists and pediatricians. The report can be summarized by thefollowing quote (from the report):”Many of us hold our liberal ideals of freedom ofexpression dear, but now begin to feel that we werenaive in our failure to predict the extent ofdamaging material and its all-too-free availability tochildren” Kristol (640).
This point-of-view about freedom of expression is not held solely by those inEngland, for it is in our own country where the first amendment grants usfreedom of speech, or more specifically, that Congress shall make no lawabridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.1 Yes, control of televisionprogramming and it’s violence content does limit the freedom independentadults in watching what they choose to watch but is it not worth it? Societyas a whole benefits when thousands of children have been steered away frombecoming violent adults (Kristol 642).
The United States government has taken a divided stand when askedabout the source of teen violence and promiscuity in America. The liberalscall for tougher gun control laws while the conservatives place the blame onpop culture and TV (Hunt 650). The government has taken slight stepstowards intervening in what Hollywood puts on TV but I see these efforts asminuscule. It is apparent to myself beyond reasonable doubt that afterchildren view over 200,000 acts of TV violence by the time they graduatehigh school (Hunt 652) they become numb to violence. As of 1995, Senatehad passed legislation requiring violence-screening technology on all new TVsets (Hirschorn 643). Is this all that they are willing to do for our children? More along the lines of what conservatives promote, it is only appropriatethat prime-time television be declared a violence-and-sex-free zone(Hirschorn 643). “Culture’s romanticization of violence — in movies,television, and music — certainly contributes to a general disregard forauthority” (Hunt 651), and when a parent is confronted with a violent,aggressive, or promiscuous teen, who it the first to be blamed? The parent. The cliche “it takes a village to raise a child” has never been more meaningfulthan when applied to this situation and what the government must do to assistin the bringing up of our next generation. “(Parents) have not been able to doit on their own. Parents have always relied on churches, schools and popularculture for help” (Kristol 643). The government should fall somewherewithin those lines also.
In conclusion, I, along with other critics of TV violence claim thatviolent acts on TV teach children sadism and encourage them to be cruel(Oppenheim 648). Albert Hunt states in an article in the Wall Street Journal,the perfect analogy interpreting the effects of violence in music and in themedia on children. He said, “If Frank Sinatra songs make people feelromantic and John Phillips Sousa makes people feel patriotic, then theobscene violence of (media) shock rocker Marilyn Manson or gansta-rapperSnoop Doggy Dogg might encourage impressionable and troubled teenagersto feel perverted or violent” (Hunt 652). Is there anything to dispute thispoint? Though clean-cut evidence has not been found relating violence in themedia, circumstantial evidence is far too numerous and substantial to beignored. In efforts to correct and help prevent youth violence we adults maygive up a part of our first amendment right, but in the long run, all of ourrights, our prosperity, and our lives are protected.
Works CitedHirschorn, Michael. “The Myth of Television Depravity.” Elements ofArgument. Ed. Annette T. Rottenberg. Boston: Bedford/St.
Martin’s, 2000. 643-646.
Hunt, Albert R. “Teen Violence Spawned by Guns and Cultural Rot.” Elements of Argument. Ed. Annette T. Rottenberg. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. 650-652.
Kristol, Irving. “Sex, Violence, and Videotape.” Elements of Argument. Ed.
Annette T. Rottenberg. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. 640-643.
Oppenheim, Mike. “TV Isn’t Violent Enough.” Elements of Argument. Ed.
Annette T. Rottenberg. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000. 646-648.
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