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Methods of Biblical Counseling - Is Television Violence Threatening to Americas Youth?

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Methods of Biblical Counseling

Is Television Violence Threatening to Americas Youth?

Does the violence scattered across the screens in the homes of Americans cause the unsuspecting watcher to commit sordid acts of wanton violence? While many people seem to hold to this line of thinking there are strong arguments that buffet the conclusion and insist that there is no promotion of violence in what is paraded in living rooms across the land. A wide range of research has been conducted in an attempt to establish scientific data, among this research three main types of studies are evident: Laboratory studies, natural setting studies and correlational studies. Laboratory studies tend to suggest that the negative effects are more clearly visible among people who are already predisposed to violence and that other factors influence them to behave violently and their actions are not stimulated solely by what has been viewed on television. Natural setting studies use violent and non-violent programs to test the outcome on their subjects while corelational studies gather data from television viewing behavior and compare it to data on aggressiveness. The goal is to find a relationship between viewing and aggressive behaviors. Many of the advocates of these particular studies tend to believe that there is little relation to what is seen on television and what people actually do. In other words "there is little convincing evidence that in natural settings, viewing television violence causes people to be more aggressive" (Lynn 167-168). Although many people may consider television violence a threat, others believe that the explicit acts of violence pollute the minds of America's children and teen-agers, causing parents to take action.

Television violence is a threat to children. Psychiatrist Thomas E. Radecki, director of the National Coalition, has worked hard to reduce the amount of violence broadcast on television.

According to Radecki, children who see violent acts on television become more susceptible to violence, and are likely to behave in a violent manner. Radecki states, "A diet of television violence was the best predictor of convictions for juvenile delinquency". He reviewed the studies of Jerome and Dorothy Singer of Yale University and discovered that up to twenty five percent of the acts of aggression reported on playgrounds could be linked to violent behavior viewed on television (Radecki 161). For most children, television is as much of an influence as school or church, Maybe even more. Most children spend more time watching television than they spend on other activities such as sports or reading thus neglecting the development of their physical and mental health. It is obvious that most children are far more interested in being entertained than in creating their own entertainment. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, an assistant dean at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other researchers observed several children play before and after watching violent programs on television. After watching these programs, the children's behavior was more aggressive and they were more likely to kick, punch, bite, or grab to get their way. Television teaches children how to use force to get their way. The more violent television a child watches, the more violent his or her behavior becomes with others (Prothrow-Stith 75). For parents trying to raise good children these facts can be extremely disturbing.

Children are becoming desensitized to violence. Author, Lois Timnick states that "the more they are exposed to violence,

the more desensitized they become until it is no longer horrifying but merely an occurrence in daily living. She also believes that if children learn that the way to climb the ladder of success in life is to maim, kill, and steal, we will see the criminal population grow (Timnick 6). Real life or fictional violence exposed repeatedly can make violence seem normal and acceptable. In an article from the Economist, children's television is packed with violence. The article goes on to say that among the shows that are intended for children they are exposed to an average of twenty-five acts of violence per show (Economist 29). That amount of violence certainly has to have an adverse effect for anyone let alone impressionable young people. All of America's children are being exposed to violence on television, but boys from poorer backgrounds that see violence in their neighborhoods and even in their families are at a higher risk to become desensitized to violence. Boys who grow up in poverty-stricken homes and lack non-violent male role models, are the most vulnerable to the message of violence that television portrays (Prothrow-Stith 76). Children see this violence on television and it tells them that the violent society in which they live is the normal and ordinary way for people to live, when in truth nothing could be further from "normal" than what they see on the boob-tube.

Even the cartoons designed solely for the viewing of children are saturated with violence. Radecki states, "the average four to eight year old American child will view 250 episodes of war cartoons and 1,000 commercials for war toys this year or the equivalent of twenty-two days of classroom instruction in exciting pro-war entertainment" (Radecki 163). Cartoon violence has definitely increased and children are watching a great deal of it. Although cartoons seem to be harmless, TV Guide indicates that most violence is in children's cartoons (Zeman 4). Violence is even found in the lives of the most loved characters. Koshelynk, writer for USA Today, states, "even a "G" rating doesn't preclude terror. 'Babar, the elephant, an animated feature based on the French children's books about King Babar of Elephant Land, had a war plot and contained a disturbing scene of elephants being beaten into slavery by brutal enemy rhinos" (Koshelynk 91). Shows as popular as Scooby Doo, America's favorite canine detective, have had problems. Juliet Dee wrote in a USA Today article, "a six year old imitated a hanging on 'The Scooby Doo Show' and killed himself by accident" (Dee 61). Indeed, cartoons are threatening America's children by polluting their minds with unnecessary violence. Kim Zarzour, author of "The Electronic Family" states, "Another Yale study showed those mast harmfully affected by violent programs were those who watched them with their parents" (Zarzour H1). It is almost as though society condones violence on television, and even goes as far as to provide violent cartoons solely for children's viewing.

Television gives



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