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VIOLENT PROGRAMS ON TELEVISION LEAD TO AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR BY CHILDREN

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Since 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health, along with other reputable health organizations has collected data that connects media violence, with violent acts. Conclusions deduced from this data prove that violent programs on television lead to aggressive behavior by children and teenagers who watch those programs. Television violence affects young people of all ages, all socio-economic levels, and all levels of intelligence.

Today’s children view vast amounts of violence on television. A steady diet of death, killings, torture, and other grotesque acts may be viewed on any day by vulnerable youth. When children are young, they are impressionable to all their surroundings, and especially vulnerable to what they see. Scientific research validates this fact. In studies by the National Institute of Mental Health, educators have learned that children who watch violence often act out this violence.

Parents today have a responsibility to ensure their children are supervised when watching violent programs if they are allowed to watch these programs at all. When parents are in the room with children, parents should point out to children that television is not real. Children tend to see television as real life, and lack the maturity to differentiate the difference between news and fiction programs on television. Studies by George Gerbner, Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania, have shown that children’s television shows contain about twenty violent acts each hour and that children who watch a lot of television are more likely to think that the world is a mean and dangerous place.

Society sees many tragic examples of research findings on youth and television violence. One such example occurred in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1999. At the time, Justin Douglas was a cute, intelligent five-year-old little boy with loving parents and a safe; middle class home. One day, Justin watched his favorite cartoon heroes; Beavis and Butt-head, on MTV perform one of their famous arson stunts. The cartoon program, created for a mature audience, often contains foul language, drinking, comments about setting fires, smoking, and portrays stealing as acceptable. Justin tried the same stunt he had watched. The real life result was not a cartoon. His home was set on fire and his younger sister lost her life when she could not be rescued from t...

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...fect that the observation of violence would have on the subject’s social behavior. The experimental group, which was exposed to the violence, was shown to push the red button, which was believed to hurt another child’s chances of receiving a prize. More often and for a significantly longer period than the children were shown an exciting non-violent film. The conclusion was that the exposure to violence is related to the acceptance of aggression. All of these studies lead to one thing, the fact that violence affects children and adults.

Before the average American child leaves elementary school, researchers estimate that he or she will have witnessed more than 8,000 murders on television. This steady diet of imaginary violence makes America the world leader in real crime and violence. It is time for parents and the American public to take notice of the scientific evidence that proves the correlation between violence seen on television and violence acting out in our society. To ignore these studies continues the growing culture of violence in our country. As Texan writer Molly Ivans says, “the first rule of a hole is, if you are in one, stop digging.”
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