“There (NIMH) pools evidence from over 2,500

“There was murderers going around killing lots of people and stealingjewelry.” This quote comes from the mouth of an eight year old girl afterwatching the evening news on television. The eight year old girl claimsthat she is afraid “when there is a murder near because you never know ifhe could be in town” (Cullingford, 61). A recent report from the NationalInstitute of Mental Health (NIMH) pools evidence from over 2,500 studieswithin the last decade on over 100,000 subjects from several nations toshow that the compiled evidence of television’s influence on behavior is so”overwhelming” that there is a consensus in the research community that”violence on television does lead to aggressive behavior” (Methvin, 49).Given that the majority of scientific community agrees that “the researchfindings of the NIMH publication support conclusion of a causalrelationship between television violence and aggressive behavior” (Wurtzel,21), why is it that “the Saturday morning “kid vid ghetto” is the mostviolent time on T.V.” (Methvin, 49), and that “despite slight variationsover the past decade, the amount of violence on television has remained atconsistently high levels” (Wurtzel, 23)? Why is it that, like the tobaccocompanies twenty years ago, the present day television broadcastingcompanies refuse to consent that violent films and programming can and dohave harmful effects on their viewers (Rowland, 280) What can be done tocombat the stubborn minded broadcasting companies and to reduce the amountof violent scenes that infest the current air waves?The television giants of today, such as ABC, CBS, and NBC continue toair violent shows, because they make money off of these programs.

Ingeneral, society finds scenes of violence “simply exciting” (Feshbach, 12).Broadcasting companies argue that “based on the high ratings, they aregiving the public what it wants, and therefore are serving the publicinterest” (Time, 77). Michael Howe states: “We have to remember thatchildren and adults do enjoy and do choose to watch those programs thatcontain violence” (48). At the same time, however, we must also rememberthe undeniable truth that “there is clear evidence between televisionviolence and later aggressive behavior” (Palmer, 120).

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Because violenttelevision has been proven time and time again to play an active roletoward inciting hostile behavior in children, the level of combativeprogramming must be reduced. The media argument that high ratingscorrespond with the public’s best interest is simply not valid. Even theAmerican Medical Association agrees that the “link between televisedviolence and later aggressive behavior warrants a major organized cry ofprotest from the medical profession” (Palmer, 122). The issue of thepublic’s infatuation with television can be paralleled with that of a youngchild and his desire for candy and “junk foods.” The child enjoys eatingsuch foods, though they produce the harmful effects of rotting away at histeeth.

With a parent to limit his intake of such harmful sweets, however,the child is protected from their damage. Similarly, the American publicdesires to view violent programs at the risk of adapting induced aggressivebehaviors. Because the networks refuse to act as a “mother,” and to limitthe amount of violence shown on television, there are no restrictions toprevent television’s violent candy from rotting away at the teeth ofHarry Skornia claims that “it is naive and romantic to expect acorporation to have either a heart of a soul in the struggle for profitsand survival” (34). But who, then, is to take responsibility for themedia’s actions if not the industry itself? Because there has not been anysufficient answers to this question so far, “television violence has notdiminished greatly; nor have Saturday morning programs for children, markedby excessively violent cartoons, changed much for the better” (Palmer,125). One may ask: “Why can’t the government or the Federal CommunicationsCommission (FCC) intervene to control the amount of violent programmingthat currently circulates during most broadcasting hours?” Edward Palmerstates: “The FCC’s reluctance to regulate – especially directly aboutviolent content – is consistent with that of many other groups. Becausethe First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, no direct censorshipos programming has ever been advocated by responsible groups concerned withthe problem of television violence” (124). The American BroadcastingCompany (ABC) holds fast to its claim that there are no scientific findingsthat show a link between television violence and unusually violent behaviorin children (Rowland, 279). The network executives at ABC express theideals that “they are self-confident about the lack of both a serious caseagainst them and of any sincere willingness by Congress to pursue beyondthe heat of rhetoric the matters of broadcasting profitability andcommercial purpose” (Rowland, 280).

One can derive from this statementthat the networks are clearly not worried about any form of governmentintervention or even the slightest bit concerned about the barrage ofscientific data that correlates violent television and hostility amongBecause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, the government andthe FCC are rendered virtually ineffective in the pursuit of limiting thecurrent amount of violence on television. Public action is the only otheroption if society wishes to create a stronger programming schedule fortoday’s children. Several organizations such as the National Parents andTeachers Association (PTA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) haveurged their members to lobby public force against advertisers onhigh-violence programs (Methvin, 53). The public must dictate its feelingsby not lending support to those companies that advertise during violenttelevision shows. “The viewer has a right to declare that he is not goingto help pay for those programs by buying the advertised products (Methvin,52) To aid public, The National Coalition on Television Violence (NCTV)publishes quarterly lists of the companies and products that sponsor themost mayhem, and also companies that allot the largest portion of theirtelevision budgets to violent programming (Methvin, 53). Public boycott ofcompanies who advertise on violent programs seems to be the only way toinform the networks and syndicators that “a public health problem existswith which they must deal” (Broadcasting, 92). Michael Howe claims that”over many years, little more than lip service has been paid by thetelevision networks to the expressed need to protect children from theinjurious influences (46).

History shows too, that “cries of protest, evenwhen accompanied by rigorous data, have had little influence on thetelevision industry in the past (Palmer, 177). A public boycott of violenttelevision, apparently, is the only way to make the “production staffaccept television violence first and foremost as potentially damaging,rather than regarding it principally as potential entertainment” (Belson,527). Only when the public is able to change the current attitudes of themedia on the topic of aggression and television, can a plan to engendermore beneficial and useful forms of television content be implementedDespite the continuously mounting evidence that violent television hasharmful effects on its young viewers, the three major broadcastingcompanies, ABC, CBS, and NBC, refuse to acknowledge these findings. Onemay find it ironic that out of over 2,500 reports on television violence,only seven do not indicate a link between the violence on the screen andaggressive behavior in young children (Chaffee, 33). Even more ironic isthe fact that one such report was heavily funded by The NationalBroadcasting Network (NBC).

The NBC funded report claims that their study”did not find any evidence that, over the time periods studied, televisionwas causally implicated in the development of aggressive behavior patternsamong children and adolescents” (Milavsky, 489). In a CBS study, thenetwork “succeeded in reducing the amount of violence reported by excludinga significant (and unreported) amount of violent representation” (Chaffee,33). Studies by the large networks can easily be “rigged” to presentvalues to support the broadcasters’ hypothesis that television aggressiondoes not influence violent behavior by changing the definition of whatconstitutes a violent act. The network studies only count “the use offorce against persons or animals ,or the articulated, explicit threat ofphysical force to compel particular behavior on the part of a person”(Wurtzel, 27). Unlike the NIMH study, the network program did not includeviolence from comedy and slapstick, accidents and acts of nature such asfloods, earthquakes, and hurricanes (Wurtzel, 27). By excluding certaintypes of violence, the broadcasters are able to manipulate their data tosupport the conclusion that television violence does not incite hostilebehavior in children.

The networks cannot be trusted to present accuratesurveys of televised violence, because evidence shows that their findingsare the result of “loaded” statistics and data.The current networks stand, stubborn and deaf, to the cries of theAmerican Medical Association, suggestions by the Federal CommunicationsCommission, and the concerns of other public organizations. The networks donot wish to alter their present displays of violence, because they fearfinancial losses and economic decline. To force the media to acknowledgepublic opinion against aggressive television programming, society mustcreate financial distress for the television networks and force them torecognize the harmful effects of televised hostility on children.

Onlywhen the broadcasters and producers of violent programming admit andrealize the damaging results of violence on children will significantimprovements be made to generate productive and imaginative children’sBibliography:Work SitedBelson, William A. Television and the Adolescent Boy. GreatBritain: Saxon House, 1978.Broadcasting. “T.V. Castigated for Link With Violence inChildren.

” May 10, 1982: 92-94.Brown, Ray, ed. Children and Television.

Beverly Hills,California: Sage Publications Inc., 1976.Chaffee, Steven H., George Gerbner, Beatrix A. Hamburgh,Chester M.

Pierce, Eli A. Rebinstein, Alberta E. Siegel, andJerome L. Singer. “Defending the Undefendable.” SocietySept.-Oct.

1984: 30-36.Cullingford, Cedric. Children and Television. New York: St.Martin’s Press, 1984.

Himmelweit, Hilde T., A.N.

Oppenheim, and Pamela Vince.Television and the Child. London: Oxford University Press,1958.Howe, Michael J.A. Television and Children.

London: NewUniversity Education, 1977.Lowe, Carl, ed. Television and American Culture. New York: TheH.

W. Wilson Company, 1981.Methvin, Eugene H. “T.

V. violence: the shocking new evidence.”Reader’s Digest Jan. 1983: 49-54.Milavsky, Ronald J.

, Ronald C. Kessler, Horst. H. Stipp, andWilliam S. Rubens. Television and Aggression. Orlando:Academic Press Inc., 1982.

Palmer, Edward L. Children and the Faces of Television. NewYork: Academic Press Inc., 1980.Pearl, David.

“Violence and Aggression” Society Sept.-Oct.1984: 17-23.Rowland, Willard D.

Jr. and Horace Newcomb. The Politics of T.V.Violence. Sage Publications Inc., 1983.Feshbach, Seymour and Robert D.

Singer. Television andAggression. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 1971.Skornia, Harry J. Television and Society. New York: McGrawHill Book Company, 1965.Time.

“Warning from Washington: Violence on Television is Harmful to children.” May 17, 1982: 77.Wurtzel, Alan, and Guy Lometti. “Researching TelevisionViolence.” Society Sept.-Oct. 1984: 22-31.

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