December 12, 1996
Violence in television, is it turning our children into violent, destructive, and
hateful toddlers. Yes or no? In today's society television plays such a big role in our
everyday lives that it is hard to see if it effects our children's behavior. Television has the
potential of being a very constructive learning tool, if used correctly. On the other hand if
used in a destructive manner it could, hypothetically, turn our children and future leaders
of tomorrow into deadly hate mongers. I believe that television does effect the way people
think and behave.
In a survey given in 1978 at an unnamed college in Washington D.C., when asked
if what was seen on T.V. effected the way they acted ,2% thought it did ,7% didn't know
and ,91% didn't think it effected them at all(2). In 1993 a similar survey was given in
London by the Broadcasting Standard Council( BSC ). When people were asked if they
thought T.V. effected the way people behaved 41% said yes, 4% left without finishing the
survey, and 55% said that they didn't think it effected the way people acted(14).
As seen in the survey the problem of television violence is being made more aware
to the people of the world. The problem has also grown over the years to a more serious
dilemma making the government start to try and solve the problem by initiating laws in
which television stations must limit violence on T.V.(6). It is still not enough though the
problem must be taken care of promptly before it changes society as a whole. If the
problem is not taken care of swiftly then it could effect the future of the world by having
violence rampage the streets of our towns.
In the past when television was first invented it was a much happier time. people
could walk on our streets without having to care if they were going to make it home alive.
I'm not trying to say that television is the reason that society today is so dangerously
violent, but as violence on television evolved so did the violence on our streets.
In the past there were not as many violent T.V. shows if there were even any. Also T.V.
was more of a family recreation, most families could only afford one T.V. set so when
children watched T.V. they were supervised by their family making violence almost an
impossible thing to see if parents were not interested. Today, there are an average of three
televisions per household so it is harder for parents to make sure their children are
watching suitable programs. This also makes it easier for a child to watch unsuitable
violent television shows(7).
In today's society violent acts occur commonly that can be linked to television or
movies. In December of 1993 a young ten year old child after watching an episode of
Beavis and Butthead went into his two year old sisters room and lit her baby crib on fire.
This not only burnt the house down , gave the ten year old kid serious third degree burns,
but also killed the two year old baby by burning to death(8). Also in October of 1993
after watching a movie intitled " The Program " a handful of college kids mimicking a
scene from the movie laid down in the middle of a busy intersection and dodged traffic.
This little sheraid killed two of the kids, gave another two serious injuries which put them
in the critical care unit of the hospital for a month before recovering , and gave one
student a fractured collar bone and multiple fractured ribs(15). Because of these two
incidents and many more television violence has been brought to the attention of the
citizens of the world. It has also grabbed the attention of the United States government.
Since these occurrences the government has strengthened there hold on the collar of the
television stations around the U.S. by making stricter restrictions on T.V. shows(3).
In the future, The government has put together laws that they would like to pass to
limit television violence. Such rules are 1) A set of 1-800 numbers for parents to call to
get information on T.V. shows that contain violence. This way the parents can choose or
limit the viewing of violent programs for there children. 2) Also there would be a count of
violent incidents in a show before each program on the television, this would also allow
parents to regulate children's viewing. 3) Violence warnings would be shown before each
show containing violence ( This is already done with most television stations ). 4) The
government would monitor promotional spots for violent shows. The government would
prohibit a commercial for violent television shows until an hour later in the evening when
children are asleep. 5) There would also be the organization of a presidential commission
to identify other potential solutions to television violence. 6) Finally, there would be a
disallowance of tax deductions for the cost of advertising on violent shows(9). Also there
is anew invention out called the V-chip that would be put into all new television sets. This
invention takes signals sent from the television stations, and then translates them telling
the T.V. if there is violence in the television show being watched. Then if the parents want
to program the T.V. set to not show violent material the T.V. blacks out such material
preventing children to watch(13).
There are many arguments why television can't be completely abolished. One of
these reasons is the constitution. The first amendment states freedom of speech, this is
the biggest reason for television stations to continue delivering violent programs to are
homes through television sets. Any time the government makes a substantial move
towards relieving the problem of television violence the television stations cry out that it
is interfering with their right to freedom of speech(5). This may be true but where in the
constitution does it state that we can not have the choice to choose what are children can
watch. The T.V. stations believe that it is are right to choose what we watch, but the best
way to do this is not by limiting what the stations can show but by screening television
viewing in the home by the parents. Many people feel the same way, in a book intitled
Classroom Combat teaching and television by Maurine Doerken she writes that it is not
the responsibility of the television stations to keep children from watching violent shows,
but is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids to turn such garbage off
themselves(4). Another argument for the television stations is that children here violent
terms and see violence any way so why take it off the air. This argument states that
children at school hear such terms as "drop dead out-fit ", and " break a leg " so why stop
it on television . They also state that at schools children see fighting and hate between
other students so why don't people try and ban violence at school before they try to ban
anything else(1). Television stations also fight that there is no substantial evidence saying
that violence on television directly effects the way people and children act, and until there
is they refuse to take such violence off the T.V.(11). Although all these reasons if looking
at them from their point of view sound good enough there are also some very good
reasons to put a stop to television violence.
First there are the stated deaths of many adults and children that can be linked back
to a scene from a television show or just the show itself. Included in these are the ones
mentioned earlier in this paper, but there are also more. Such as: In 1990 when the movie
"Natural Born Killers" came out two kids one male one female went on a killing spree
stating they had gotten the revelation after watching the movie, in which to similar people
go around killing person after person just for fun. Also after the movie "Dracula" was
released three teenage kids in Florida killed a tourist and tried to suck her blood. There are
also many more accounts of incidents such as these all relating to a movie or television
show that contained a violent nature. All these violent occurrences and yet television
stations see no direct relation between them and television? Another thing is that when the
constitution was written there was no such thing as television, so how can that be used as
an excuse to keep violence on television(12). T.V. stations also suggest that it is not there
responsibility to teach children what is right and wrong, but it is the responsibility of the
parents. This may be true but with so many families with two working parents it is almost
an impossible feat to regulate what their children watch, so there has to be some kind of
regulation on the violence to keep the children from getting these horrible ideas in their
head. Television violence is a problem, there is no possible way to say that it isn't. We
have to stop that problem, and the only way to do so is to put tougher restriction's on
There is no doubt that television and movies can be used to help children as a
learning tool. In New Mexico, an organization offers entertaining alternatives to television
violence, to families afflicted by violence. This organization puts video's out so parents can
give their children something to watch other than the violent material on television(10).
Organizations such as these are great. They are trying to help the youth of today before
the problem gets to big.
In conclusion, I hope that this information given can help show the problems with
television violence. It is said that by the time children graduate from high school they
would have seen eight-teen thousand murders or other violent acts on television(10).
That is to many acts of violence to not effect the way children or adults behave.
There must be something done before it's to late, and our children grow up violent, non-
caring, hate filled people. We must stop it now or in the future, our future leaders who
are the generation X , who learned from watching television well be terrible people doing
terrible things around the globe. It is not to late we just have to get busy and make things
right, starting now.
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