Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Effects of the Media on School Violence

This is a research paper I did this year. It started out being just about school shootings, then narrowed to the causes of school shootings, then narrowed even more to the MEDIA affects on school shootings. It turns out theres LOTS of info on school shootings!! Sorry about all the works cited and everything. If anyone wants the bibliography, althought I can't imagine why they would, I can post it later or something. Hopefully this sheds a little bit of light on what I was talking about on John's blog.

“’Juvenile killers don’t just wake up one day and become juvenile killers. Homicide, like most behavior, is learned.’” (Bonilla, 39) Those words of Charles Patrick Ewing, a psychologist at State University, can be proved by much research. The media, including TV, movies, and video games, is a major place where kids can learn to be killers.
It can be proven the toddlers as young as 14 months will mimic behaviors seen on TV (www.psych.org). 47% of kids ages four to six will copy aggressive behaviors, as well (www.media-awareness.ca). In fact, 25% of juvenile crimes are imitated from crimes seen on TV (Jones, 34). Add to that the knowledge that the average child will witness 200,000 acts of violence, 16,000 of which are murders, before the age of 18 (www.babybag.com). It seems logical that kids will be violent.
TV for kids can be up to 50 or 60% more violent than adult primetime TV. Cartoons alone can average 80 violent acts per hour (www.psych.org). In fact, 66% of kid’s shows contain violence. On kid’s shows, 75% of violent acts go unpunished, and 58% of them fail to show any pain a victim may face (www.baby bag.com).
By not showing the consequences, kids begin to forget that shooting someone does cause pain. Over time, this desensitizes them to violence, making it seem common and perfectly acceptable (Jones, 34). Keep in mind that the average child spends 28 hours a week parked in front of the TV, which is 28 hours slowly become accustomed to violence (www.babybag.com).
Not only is violence shown to be acceptable, it is portrayed to be the way to solve problems. A child sees his TV hero shoot and kill the bad guy and thinks it’s acceptable for him to go out and shoot someone he doesn’t get along with (Bonilla, 35). This message is reinforced every time violence is used to solve a problem, giving justification for violent actions (Garnett, 111). If a child isn’t taught that there are ways other than violence to solve problems, and that TV is only pretend, there will be a problem (Capozzoli, 24).
Young children are not always able to separate reality from pretend. When such a child views violent or scary TV shows, it can cause fear and mistrust (Garnett, 111). These programs only show one small piece of the world, a violent piece, but children can’t always understand that concept (www.psych.org). This can cause them to show self-protective behavior. They can begin to imitate the aggressive behavior they have seen demonstrated on TV. The lack of respect for life can also come through in a child‘s behavior as well; as such behavior on TV shows that disrespect for other people is okay (Garnett, 111). A 1972 study shows that the move TV violence a child watches, the more violent he or she tends to be (Jones, 33).
As stated, younger children seem the most at risk to develop aggressive behavior. Before the age of four, a child is still developing his or her values and understanding of right and wrong. They will imitate behavior to find out about the concept of actions and consequences. This can be demonstrated by a study called “Beating Up On Bobo” (Jones, 36).
In 1963, researchers took three groups of nursery school age kids and had them watch a movie of a man telling a life-sized doll, Bobo, to move out of his way. When Bobo didn’t, the man began to punch Bobo, hit him with a mallet, and throw balls at him, yelling at Bobo the entire time. The first group of children then saw a man being rewarded with candy. The second group saw the man scolded and punished, and the third group saw no additional footage (Jones, 37).
All the children were then brought into a playroom with Bobo dolls, mallets, and balls. The researchers watched them with a two-way mirror. The first and third groups of children imitated several of the man’s actions. The kids in the second group, the ones who had seen the man punished, did not (Jones, 37).
Obviously, this shows that young children can’t tell the difference between the actions on TV and ones in real life. With age, kids can begin to understand the differences, but early impressions lay the foundation for later behavior (Jones, 37).
Viewing violence on TV as a child is also shown to have lasting effects. In 1960, University of Michigan professor Leonard Eron did a study on 856 third graders. He found that the more violent TV they watched at home, the more aggressively they behaved in school. In order to study the long-term effects of TV violence, he went back in 1971, when the kids were around age 19. The found that boys who had watched the most violent TV when they had been in third grade were more likely to be in trouble with the law. He went back one more time in 1982 and found once again that the viewers of violent TV were more likely to be convicted of serious crimes and to use violence as discipline on their children or to beat their wives (www.media-awareness.ca).
Although movies are watched less, they are often more violent than TV. For example, in the movie Diehard 2, there were 264 murders. The fact that it was rated R was of little importance. Friday the 13th, an extremely violent movie, was also rated R, but 20% of children ages five to seven had viewed it according to one poll. Seeing that much violence at such a young age is sure to have an effect on a child (Jones, 35).
Like TV violence, movie violence sends the message that murder equals power. It tells kids that they can have control and get attention with a gun. In the movie Natural Born Killers, murder is even equated with freedom (Bonilla, 35).
In it, one of the main characters comments, “I’m alive for the first time in my life,” after he kills his first victim. Barry Loukaitis, the school shooter in Moses Lake, Washington was reported to have watched the movie and often quoted from it. He even told one of his friends that he thought it would be “fun to go on a killing spree.” (Bonilla, 35)
In another movie, The Basketball Diaries, actor Leonardo DiCaprio daydreams of killing classmates. In the scene, he is wearing black boots and a long black trench coat to hide his weapon. Michael Carneal, of the Paducah, Kentucky shooting, said he was inspired by the movie. After viewing it he told a friend that he was “planning something big.” (Bonilla, 37)
In addition to Natural Born Killers, Barry Loukaitis was reported to have been effected by The Basketball Diaries and the book Rage, by Stephen King. In the book, the main character kills his Algebra teacher and holds his Algebra class hostage. The book and movie joined together on the day Loukaitis walked into his Algebra class, dressed in black boots and a long black trench coat which concealed the rifle he was carrying, and shot several classmates. The correlation between the shooting and the book and movie is obvious (Bonilla, 37).
Another major contributor to aggressive behavior is violent video games. During World War II, the armed forces had a problem. The military personnel were often hesitant to shoot; it went against God-given instinct. The military needed to get rid of the correlation in the brain between shooting someone and death. They did that by developing virtual games similar to “Doom” and “Quake” to encourage this. With the games, the willingness to kill skyrocketed to 95%. In the military, the ethical questions involved in the decision to shoot are questioned, so a soldier understands when and who to shoot and why he is doing it (Larson, 68)
When a teenager starts playing these games, there is no one to question them. This makes these games nothing more than murder simulators for those who play them. Dave Grossman, a psychology professor, says as much. He says of games like “Quake” that they “are murder simulators which over time teach a person how to look another person in the eyes and snuff their life out.” (Jones, 42).
Almost 50% of fourth through eighth graders say that their favorite electronic games are violent. First person shooter games are most popular with boys ages 8-13, who spend an average of over four hours a week playing them (Jones, 42). 50% of teens ages 13-17 say they have played these games, and 10% say they play them regularly (Egendorf, 19)
In first person shooter games, the shooter is shot at and must shoot back to earn points (Egendorf, 19). The more violence committed, the more points earned (Jones, 42). Players have to think and act like assassins (Egendorf, 22). Players love the adrenalin rush they get by shooting an enemy and earning the due rewards (Egendorf, 20)
The game “Night Trap” features vampires drilling through the necks of collage age girls with power tools. Another game, “Mortal Kombat“, allows players to punch, kick, or even decapitate their enemies (Jones, 42). Judge Larabee has seen two cases where kids play these games and then go out and kill. She says, “There is not difference for them between Mortal Kombat and real life” (Day, 24).
Some games have players killing more than just the enemy. “Some games invite players to blow away ordinary people who have done nothing wrong-pedestrians, marching bands, an elderly woman with a walker. In these games the shooter is not a hero, just a violent sociopath,” says U.S. World and News Report writer John Leo. He says these games erase empathy, which researchers say is what makes kids killers. Psychologists warn that these violent games teach a lack of respect for life (Jones, 42).
Video games require fast reflexes. While they may develop hand-eye coordination, they require little to no critical thinking skills, but rather depend on instinct (Garnett, 114).
Over time, players get used to the no think, just act response to problems. This sends the message that solving problems is quick and requires little time. It says that the best way to solve a problem is to simply shoot it and get rid of it (Garnett, 113).
Shooting games teach a firing technique that is totally opposite to what one would normally use. This is chillingly obvious in the case of Michael Carneal. When he walked in to the school building, he had never before shot a handgun. Yet he fired eight shots and hit eight people. He would shoot at one person, aiming for the head, and move directly on to the next victim. A person who hasn’t used a gun before would normally shot at his or her target until it fell. Carneal learned this technique from the point-and-shoot, first person, violent video games. In these games, players have a short time to shoot and are rewarded for firing only one shot per target. Carneal gained his motor-coordination skills from those violent games (Larson, 67).
Four decades of research shows the correlation between media violence and real-life violence. “At some point, you have to say that if exposure to violence is related to aggressive attitudes and values and if [the latter] are related to shooting classmates or acting aggressively-all of which we know to be true-than it stands to reason that there is probably a link between exposure to violence and aggressive actions” (Egendorf, 21). Clearly, the media, including TV, movies, and video games has a major effect on violence in children and teens. Until something is done about this violence, there will continue to be extreme evil, kids out there, killing other kids.

22 Comments:

Blogger James w. Lanning said...

you go to plymouth, don't you? figures.

10:09 PM, June 21, 2005  
Blogger John W. Sikma said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:24 PM, June 21, 2005  
Blogger John W. Sikma said...

i started being violent there because of James rudness... so i deleted that. Anyway, nice article, but you should have put my qoute in there to contridict everything you were saying.

10:27 PM, June 21, 2005  
Blogger Petunia McGillicuddy said...

Hi. Thanks for posting this. I haven't seen your other comments yet that you mention, but I am glad to see an intelligent and well-written treatment of this problem. How popular do you think those violent video games are?

11:28 PM, June 21, 2005  
Blogger Eva Lemmon..? said...

Well, it is a research paper. Isn't supposed to be intellegent? What would happen to our youth if they listened to violent music AND cut out research papers?
I belive that good parenting skills
could combat this behavior. The involvement of parents is also crucial to the development of the frontal lobes.

8:40 AM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger Eva Lemmon..? said...

Nice paper, Erika.

8:41 AM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger John W. Sikma said...

there were some logical fallacys... but I say nothing. Actually, that was pretty convincing...

11:25 AM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger Erika said...

I surely do james...how could you tell??

Thanx 4 curbing the violence John, but sweet of u 2 stick up for me, as james' comment was rather rude. What was your quote again? and where were the logical fallacys??

Your welcome Petunia. I found the whole topic pretty interesting, but thats just me i spose. The games are REALLY popular...see the stats about how many kids have played them.

Good point Evie...and I'd like to think it was at least HALF way intelligent sounding. if we didn't have research papers I'm guessing that teens would have several more hours of sleep the week before its due!! and parental involvement is KEY in preventing any of the tragedies of shootings from happening. Parents tend to blind their eyes to their kids telling behavior.

4:44 PM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger scarlatti said...

in depth and very good! why, i even have given up my gory games for more moderate games such as pooh's heffalump adventure... JK
no, that was impressive

9:42 PM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger Petunia McGillicuddy said...

It rather reminds me a bit of Andrea Dworkin's arguments about the influence and ubiquitous scope of objectified, sexualized media images of women in marketing. Although I didn't disagree with her criticisms of popular media, the problem with her argument was that the harm to women rested to a degree on the assumption that women are uncritical absorbers of these kinds of images. And that's just not true.

I don't think the same could be said about kids and violence, though. Again, it's nice to see this topic addressed.

11:24 PM, June 22, 2005  
Blogger Erika said...

Scarlett: somehow I can't see you playing Pooh games...just doesn't fit the whole image!!

Petunia: for the women ur totally right, it is untrue I would say. but 4sure not so with kids and violence.

9:53 AM, June 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who was your teacher when you handend this in i think i was in your class

11:48 AM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AHHH! They're EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!

1:05 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger Erika said...

Mrs. Kattenburg...it was just this past school year anon.

other anon...WHAT is everywhere???

7:48 AM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger scarlatti said...

the air... aaaaaaaah!
jk

4:13 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger Eva Lemmon..? said...

no, I think the insipid and facetious commenter meant persons schooled in plymouth.

9:42 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger Eva Lemmon..? said...

This proves my theory that there are more than one cramp bottom and bung nut, though they do not use the appropriate titles.

9:43 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger Eva Lemmon..? said...

Probably six or so.

9:44 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger Erika said...

aaaah, thanx 4 clearing that up Evie!! who IS this person then? there may just be 6-ish cramp bottoms and bung nuts now that you mention it!!

4:52 PM, June 27, 2005  
Blogger born2fly said...

Wow that was very well written. I saw this warnin on the news about a super violent game...thos can be so manipulative to young minds... it was called like I-25 or sumthin and its like the more cops u kill the more pts u get...well i guess none of this is really new since unfortunatly theres billions of games like this out there...i'll stick to the sims :)

12:01 PM, July 10, 2005  
Blogger born2fly said...

also is james whoever being prejudice to plymouth kids....grrrrrrrrrr

12:01 PM, July 10, 2005  
Blogger born2fly said...

its called 25 to life...ok ppl stopped postin here i'll shut up :)

7:02 PM, July 27, 2005  

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