Americans have grown increasingly alarmed about youth violence. There are far too many of our children killing and harming others. Many people question why this is happening. Sadly, despite decades of effort on a broad front in this country, we still can not answer this question with certainty. Some people point to the media for this problem; while others say it consists of many different problems. It is hard to pin point one certain problem that turns our children violent. Children can have problems in their homes; where they are not getting enough attention or supervision. It could be they are watching too much violent shows and they copy what they see, but do not know it is wrong. There are many different issues where a child can turn violent. Kelleher (1998) states, “there are a variety of factors that make kids violent, which includes: •
A history of abuse in childhood
Father figures may be absent, non-nurturing, or passive
Mother may be dominant, overprotective, or seductive
Violence is expressed in the home and throughout childhood •
Children experience a deep sense of abandonment and distrust •
Family environment is unstable and often in turmoil
According to Kelleher (1998) “before 1990, well over 80 percent of all murders were committed by adults-individuals over the age of eighteen (p. 3). However, that started to change dramatically in the mid 1980’s. The number of teenagers who committed murder began to rise, while the number of adults who murdered began to decline. Now, in the new millennium, “the number of murderers under the age of eighteen represents approximately one-fifth of the total number of known killers in America” (Kelleher, 1998, p. 3). Currently, “there are six to seven juvenile homicides a day. The recently highly publicized school shootings represent a minor percentage of that total. The rate of violence against youth aged twelve to fifteen, has increased substantially since 1988” (Anderson et al., 2003). Violence is a learned behavior. Children learn violent behaviors from their family and peers, as well as observe it in their neighborhoods and in the community at large. These behaviors are reinforced by what youth see on television, on the Internet, in video games, music videos, and what they hear in their music. Many of our youth today spend a tremendous amount of time sitting in front of the television. Research states, “it is estimated that today’s children will be exposed to approximately twenty to twenty five violent acts per hour during a Saturday morning and approximately five violent acts per hour during regular adult programming (Anderson et al., 2003). Viewing this much television violence can lead to a change in the youth’s values and increase in violent behavior. Television desensitizes the child to violence in general and to the pain of others. If children are “glued” to the television for a substantial portion of their day, they may view the world as a more dangerous place than it really is. According to Zimring (1998), the majority of existing social and behavioral science studies agree on the following basic points: •
Constant viewing of televised violence has negative effects on human character and attitudes. •
Television violence encourages violent forms of behavior and influences moral and social values about violence in daily life. •
Children who watch significant amounts of television violence have a greater likelihood of exhibiting later aggressive behavior. •
Television violence affects viewers of all ages, intellect, socioeconomic levels, and both genders. •
Children who watch significant amounts of television violence perceive a meaner world and overestimate the possibility of being a victim of violence. There are those people that believe violence in television, movies and video games should be closely monitored and restricted. On the other hand, there are individuals who believe that monitoring and restricting video violence would in some way violate the...
References: Anderson, C.A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J., Linz, D.,
Malamuth, N.M., Wartella, E. (2003). The Influence of Media Violence on Youth.
Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4, 81-110. Retrieved June 9, 2008, from
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Kelleher, Michael D. (1998). When Good Kids KILL. Praeger Publishers.
Zimring, Franklin E. (1998). American Youth Violence. New York: Oxford University Press.
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