Television, magazines, radio, movies, and music are all forms of today’s modern media. Is it possible that our modern media could be causing crime rates to rise? Back in the 1920’s, these media’s came out so that people could stay connected with what was going on around the world. Soon, the media became a form of entertainment. Over the last five decades, the rules and guidelines of media have changed dramatically. When the media first came out, it was completely prohibited to even say something small like “pregnant” on TV, or cursing in music.
However, eventually the new entertainment became old, and the producers of the media had to find ways to keep our interest. Therefore, the media starting making the previous prohibitions, non-prohibited so that they could keep our interest. In result, today the producers the media are showing mass murders and other violent things on TV, like showing murders and crimes. Music artists sing about violent actions. In many people’s eyes, the world we know as media has left a state of innocence and entertainment, to a world of violence and indecency. A plethora of people would say that change in the media has created new issues.
Often times, people blame our media for crime rates that have been skyrocketing in the last five decades, especially in adolescences. In fact, violent crimes in adolescence living in America have more than doubled since the 1990’s. For this reason, we must ask, is media violence the reason for this aggressive behavior? After reading many essays, such as Mike Males essay, “Stop Blaming Kids and TV,” and Sissela Bok’s essay, “Agression:The Impact of Media Violence,” I realized that people cannot just pinpoint violent media as the cause of this new epidemic, because in reality the environments that kids live in nowadays plays a much bigger role.
Therefore, through these essays, it became very clear that media violence is not the biggest issue for violence, but perhaps these children’s homes and families. The first essay I read, “Stop Blaming Kids and TV,” by Mike Males, explains to the reader that the new profound aggressive behaviors of children have little to do with our new media and more to do with their home environments. To begin Males’s essay, he starts by stating that many people believe that media violence is the cause of the new crime rate increase.
Males then starts to list various groups that are strong believers of media violence being bad for kids and gives us many examples such as, “Progressives are no exception. Mother Jones claims it has proof that TV makes kids violent. And the institute of Alternative Media emphasis, the average American child will witness 200,000 acts of (TV) violence by the time that child graduates from high school” (253).
Males then goes on to argue that point by stating, “None of these varied interests not that during the eighteen years between a child’s birth and graduation from high school, there will be fifteen million cases of real violence in American homes grave enough to require hospital emergency treatment” (253). He then continues by telling us that the Department of Health and Human Services said that there are over 500,000 cases of abusive parents reported each year. After the Department reported this fact, this report disappeared from the news completely after only one day (253).
Another point that Males argues is that the Japanese and European kids have media just as violent as ours here in America and yet their crime rates are not nearly as high as ours. In fact, it is said that their crime rate are so low that their 17 year olds create less crime than our 77 year olds in America. Furthermore, Males then tells about his own personal experiences and what he has watched over his years of working with children. Through his own studies, he found that many of the kids who showed any acts of aggression or violence had an unstable or bad home life.
For example: kids who have parents in jail or kids who have alcoholics in their families. Next, he tells us about the survey that he conducted in los angles from 400 middle school students. From this study he got that most kids’ parents are there biggest influence. Thus, when a kid sees his/her parents doing something, or acting some way, they are far more likely to act just like their parents did. To back this statement, he provided us with yet another study from the Centers for Disease Control, where they found that “75 percent of all teenage smokers come from homes where their parents smoke” (255).
Males then goes on to conclude his essay by stating, “Millions of children and teenagers face real destitution, drug abuse, and violence in their homes…. Yet these profound menaces continue to lurk in the background…” (256) Males’s main purpose of this essay was to persuade the reader that violent media such as TV is not the only cause for why kids are violent. This essay was very effective because he used many outside sources besides himself. He used a lot of logical appeals and even a few emotional pieces throughout his essay. For his logical appeals he used university, departments, and programs that deal with the youth.
These sources tend to be very credible and reliable. As the reader that makes us feel like what he is saying is very factual because he got his information from good sources. In addition He researched other countries and media violence in their countries, which was really good because what he found in those countries, was that even though those countries play the same violence and aggression on their TV’s, they have a lower crime rates which really helps back up Males’s point. Thus, for these reasons this essay was very effective in persuading the reader that TV is not to blame for this aggression.
The second essay that caught my attention, “Aggression: The Impact of Media Violence,” by Sissela Bok, also explains how there is not just one thing that affects why kids are so violent but a myriad of things. As Bok begins her essay she states, “Even if media violence were linked to no other debilitating, it would remain at the center of public debate so long as the widespread belief persists that it glamourizes aggressive conduct, removes inhibitions toward such conduct, arouses viewers, and invites imitation. ” (224).
Next, she goes on to tell about how 21 percent of the American public blames television more than any other factors for teen violence. It is said that the media makes up for 5-15 percent of the societal violence. Furthermore, she then writes about Centerwall’s study which was published in 1989 which states that if television had not been created he believes we would have 10,000 less homicides each year (227). However, Sissela fights back to this statement by addressing that Mr. Centerwall did not take into consideration of other things that were going on at the time, like shifts in policy and population.
Therefore, she persuades us that media is not a for sure topic to blame for the increase homicide rate. She continues her argument against blaming media violence by writing, “We may never be able to trace, retrospectively, the specific set of television programs that contributed to a particular persons aggressive conduct…. How can anyone definitively pinpoint the link between media violence and the acts of real life violence? ”(228). Nevertheless, Mrs. Bok tells about her research on homicides in America and how the children homicide rates have escalated greatly, and then concludes her essay by saying:
America may be the only society on earth to have experiences what has been called an “epidemic of children killing children,” which is ravaging some of its communities today. As in any epidemic, it is urgent to ask what is it that makes so many capable of such violence, victimizes so many others, and causes countless more to live in fear. Whatever role media are found to play in this respect, to be sure, is part of the problem. Obviously, not even the total elimination of media violence would wipe out the problem of violence in the United States or any other society.
The same can be said for the proliferation and easy access to guns, or for poverty, drug addiction, and other risk factors. As Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith puts it not an either or. It’s not guns or media or parents or poverty. (228-9) Bok’s main purpose was to persuade the reader that media violence is not the only contributing factor into this new profound violence in children. She explains that there are many other factors like these kids’ home environments. This essay was effective because Bok used a lot of really good sources such as associations, psychologists, and studies, as well as many statistics that she provided for us.
She also made it very clear that she had researched this topic quick deeply by going way back into the history of children’s violence in previous decades. She provided us with a very well displayed argument and even showed some of the opposing side. However, she always fought back with the opposing arguments with a better argument really building her argument into a good one. In consequence, Bok’s essay was a very effective essay and does persuade the reader into believing that media violence is not the main cause of aggression in children.
Overall, Mr. Males and Mrs. Bok both had very good arguments. They both expressed their opinions and the found facts and proof to help back there thesis. While these essays did not completely take the same stand, these authors had similar views to an extent on media violence. In both of essay’s they uses logical and credible sources. In addition, in Mr. Males essay he also included a few emotional pieces, about his work with the children. Both of these essays specifically focused on the outcome of the kids and how media violence has affected them.
However, both essays would like to say that media violence is not the pinpoint cause of why kids are being more violent nowadays, as opposed to in the recent decades. After reading these essays I do have to say that now I don’t believe that media violence is the may cause for aggression in adolescence. Furthermore, so who is to say that media violence is causing this aggression since there is no evidence? Better yet, why aren’t we looking at other oppositions such as children’s home environments? Either way this is an epidemic now, and it’s time we learn how to change it.
It’s time for the community’s to get involved in helping to stop this epidemic. Perhaps this could be through offering more rehab programs for parents, or counseling to the children with deep levels of anger and hatred. Maybe it’s through offering anger management programs through schools, or spreading awareness, because in any situation, no matter the cause, this violence is happening, and we can’t stop it until we try. So like Sissela Bok and Mike Males, let’s look at other oppositions, and learn how to stop this violence before it gets even more out of control.
Courtney from Study Moose
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