TV Violence: Friend or Enemy?
Television violence is a contributing factor to aggressive behavior in children. Recently focus has been placed on this issue, since the majority of violence occurs during prime time and in cartoons. "It's not watching that's bad for kids, it's what they watch and how much." (Seplow 2) Parents must accept television into their home and explain the violence that is occurring. TV and TV violence are not new, we have been hearing about TV's affects on children for quite some time. It is now the time to discover if TV violence does affect our children or not. Children today have more outlets to view television through cable, pay-per-view, and home movies. Many homes often have more than one TV unlike when our parents were growing up. It was not until 1952 did the first congressional hearing convene to discuss violence on radio and television. In 1954 after Sen. Estes Kefaver, D-Tenn., headed a series of studies related to the role of television and our youth. The results showed that there was no correlation between violence on television and aggressive behavior from children. Slowly during the 60's, television began to be seen as a "vast wasteland," by many state representatives. Report after report from the Surgeon General confirmed "evidence of a link between screen violence and aggressive behavior" among children.
In 1980, President Ronald Regan made a mistake by giving the television media almost a free reign with our television programming. A rise is seen in small independent networks that increase the difficulty in controlling violence on TV. We see the first real legislation passed by Sen. Paul Simon, who created the Television Violence Act. This allowed the three major broadcasting networks some time to curb television violence on their own. Many opposed Simon stating "an obstacle to a voluntary reduction in violence by networks is that in this intensely competitive business, it is commonly held that violence sells." (CQ Researcher 278) In 1990 The Children's Television Act, required several hours each day devoted to educational programs for children. To this day little of this is seen from the networks, most programming continues to be full of violence and sexual innuendoes. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did provide some "guidelines and recommended procedures for the identification and rating of video programming that contains sexual, violent, or other indecent material about which parent should be informed before it is displayed to children." (Banta 1)
The National Coalition on Television Violence (NCTV) offers the following rating system: " TV-Y7: May include mild physical or comedic violence
' TV-PG: may have infrequent language, limited violence, some suggestive sexual dialogue or situations. TV-14: may contain sophisticated themes, sexual content, strong language, and more intense violence.' TV-M: may contain mature themes, profane language, graphic violence and explicit sexual content.' (2) This rating system does not allow parents to identify the true content of the program. Many shows are labeled as informative and educational, yet are full of violence. The FCC receives over ninety calls per year regarding poorly labeled programming and violence on television. It is impossible for the FCC to police the amount of violence seen on TV, according to the 1934 Federal Communications Act the FCC "prohibits censorship."
The National Coalition on Television Violence continues to conduct surveys concerning the ranking of our television shows. The Fox network shows the most violent programming, and was ranked number one in a recent study. Fox broadcasts over eleven violent acts per hour by offering programs as "America's Most Wanted." How can we be angry or dislike this type of programming as it is responsible for capturing over 243 fugitives? Although it shows violence, it is also dedicated to ending violence. Parents need to explain to their children the...
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