The Media And School Violence2


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  • School violence is becoming an increasing concern in today’s society. In the last decade, there have been countless incidents of shootings, stabbings, and other violent crimes taking place in the hallways of America’s schools. Many people argue that the increase in violence on television and in the media is to blame for this. They believe that children are becoming desensitized to violence by seeing it every day. However, critics of this viewpoint argue that there is no evidence to support such a claim and that there are a number of other factors with a stronger correlation. In this presentation, we will examine these two viewpoints.
  • We will begin with an introductory video regarding school violence. We will then examine the reasons that media violence is to blame for school violence. Then we will turn to reasons media violence is not to blame. Lastly, we will conclude the presentation and provide our resources.
  • While many people believe that media violence is clearly to blame for school violence, there is no convincing research to support this claim. On the contrary, studies have shown that while media violence has increased in recent years school violence has declined. Moreover, research that claims the contrary has proven inconclusive. Lastly, there are a number of other factors that have been proven to contribute to the likelihood of a child engaging in violence.
  • Picture Source: is no doubt that there is a high concentration of violence on television and in the media. A study by UCLA entitled the Television Violence Monitoring Project found that 61% of television programs contain some violence. It also found that 44% of violent events were perpetrated by a character that had qualities worthy of emulation, and in 73% of violent events there were no immediate repercussions or punishments (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008). Researchers argue that this is especially alarming when considering the television viewing of young children who are unable to easily differentiate between fiction and reality. Children are exposed to countless acts of violence every day, and this number is increasing every year.
  • Despite this increase in media violence, youth violence is in fact decreasing. Data obtained from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention indicates that the arrest rate for children ages 10-17 is 6.317% compared to the 1980 average of 7.414%. This rate was highest in the 1990s, reaching a peak of 9.44% in 1996. Data also shows that the rate in arrests for juveniles has decreased 9% since 1990 compared to only 4% for adults. These statistics do not support the claim that violent media leads to youth violence as studies show that media violence is increasing.
  • Similarly, school violence is also decreasing. A report published by the National Center for Education Statistics in conjunction with the US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs and US Department of Education shows that the rate of student-reported non-fatal crime has decreased drastically since 1992 . The percentage of serious disciplinary actions taken by school officials also decreased from 54% in the 1999-2000 school year to a current rate of 46%.
  • Despite the lack of statistical evidence, a number of researchers continue to insist that media violence has a direct correlation to youth violence. These studies have been conducted using various methods all with questionable results. Laboratory experiments have been conducted in which viewers were exposed to violent media, and then their behavior was observed immediately afterwards. Also, field experiments have been conducted under similar conditions, but test subjects were unaware that their behavior was being observed. Most of these experiments have yielded contradictory results. This is due in large part to the impossibility of isolating the single variable of exposure to media violence when observing the behavior of test subjects. Research has shown that viewer characteristics to include age, gender, intellectual ability, and aggressive nature have significant impacts on a person’s response to violent media. Some people may just be naturally more predisposed to violence than others and more likely to react to the violent media. While violent media viewing may provide an impulse, it is difficult to prove that viewing violent media alone can make a person more violent.
  • In order to combat these difficulties, researchers have turned to natural experiments. One of the most notable was that conducted into three Canadian towns in the 1970s. One of these towns received television during the observation while the other two already had it. Children in the three towns were observed for indicators of aggressive behavior. The researchers found that physical aggression increased in all three towns with the greatest increase being in the town that recently received television. However, a number of the findings were “not consistent with the television effect” (Felson, 1996, p. 107). For instance, at the outset of the experiment the rate of violence was the same in all three towns. If television were the cause of violence, the rate should have been lower in the town that did not have access. Likewise, at the end of the experiment the violence rate should have been the same in all three towns.
  • The report that casts the most doubt on the claim that media violence contributes to school violence is the 2002 report by the Safe School Initiative. This was a joint study conducted by the Secret Service and the US Department of Education which attempted to develop a profile of violent youth in the wake of multiple school shootings. The study examined the perpetrators of 37 incidents of targeted school violence. It found that there was no useful profile. Regarding media violence, it found that over half the perpetrators had an interest in violence, but only one quarter indicated an interest in violent movies or television and one eighth an interest in violent video games. The majority of the attackers indicated an interest in violence through their own writings. Similarly, the most common trait among all the attackers was a history of suicide attempts or suicidal behavior (Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002).
  • While the correlation between media violence and youth violence is relatively weak, there is a larger body of research that suggests environmental and social variables have a more significant impact. In particular, exposure to real violence in a child’s community can lead them to engage in violent behavior themselves. The majority of these studies are conducted in poor, urban neighborhoods where incidents of violent activity are high. These studies have overwhelmingly found that “exposure to community violence is consequently related to a host of detrimental outcomes, including a wide array of behavioral and psychological difficulties”. Research also indicates that social capital plays a major role in the rate of youth violence. Studies have found that “adolescents are more likely to threaten or attack others and jeopardize physical well-being when they lack relationships and ties and are disconnected from others in the proximate environment” (Wright & Fitzpatrick, 2006, p. 1436). Thusly, a lack of ties with other people both at home and at school is a major contributor to youth violence. The supports the findings in the SSI study in that a lack of social capital can lead to depression, anti-social behavior, and suicidal tendencies – the most common factor among perpetrators of school violence. Studies conducted on the impact of community violence on youth behavior also showed that strong family ties and parental involvement went a long way to counter the effects of violent surroundings (Ceballo, Dahl, Aretakis, & Ramirez, 2001).
  • Dr. Alfred Blumstein, Professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research at Carnegie Mellon Univeristy, conducted a study on the potential causes of youth violence with a focus on the late 1980’s and early 1990s, a time when violent acts perpetrated by juveniles reached their highest levels in recent history. He found that an increase in the availability and use of handguns was strongly to blame. Statistics indicate that the number of violent crimes committed with handguns rose dramatically while the number of crimes committed with other weapons stayed relatively the same. This would indicate an increase in handgun use rather than an increase in violent attitudes among youth as a correlation with media violence would suggest.
  • While violent media is certainly a prevalent factor in the lives of today’s youth, there is no strong evidence to prove that there is a direct linkage to school violence. Statistics shows that while media violence is increased, youth violence and school violence are decreasing. Also, research into the topic is inherently flawed in its nature and indicates that there are a number of factors that contribute to youth engaging in violent activities.
  • There is no doubt that school violence is a major concern for educators, parents, and communities alike regardless of its cause. Stemming the tide of violence may not be as simple as telling kids to turn off the tv, but safe schools are a goal we all should strive for through whatever means we have available. This may include spending time with our children, encouraging them to watch less television, and supporting extracurricular activities that increase a child’s ties to others in their community.
  • The Media And School Violence2

    1. 1. The Media and School Violence<br />Patricia Williams<br />Courtney Waid<br />EDUC 246 <br />Spring 2010<br />
    2. 2. Agenda<br />Introduction<br />Media Violence is to Blame for School Violence<br />Media Violence is not to Blame for School Violence<br />Conclusion<br />Resources<br />
    3. 3. Click this link to view an introductory video on school violence<br />
    4. 4. Media Violence is to Blame for School Violence<br />
    5. 5.
    6. 6. Felson (1996)<br /> Watching violence is a popular form of entertainment. A crowd of onlookers enjoys a street fight just as the Romans enjoyed the gladiators. Wrestling is a popular spectator sport not only in the United States, but in many countries in the Middle East. People enjoy combat between animals, e.g., cock fights in Indonesia, bullfights in Spain and dog fights in rural areas of this country. Local news provide extensive coverage of violent crimes in order to increase their ratings. <br />
    7. 7.
    8. 8.
    9. 9. Phillips (1983) found an increase in the number of homicides after highly publicized heavyweight championship fights. <br />
    10. 10. What demographic is affected the most?<br />Bell and Jenkins (1993) suggest that violence is not evenly distributed across all neighborhoods and demographic groups. Evidence suggests that it occurs at a higher rate in low-income/on income neighborhoods, especially among the young, and in public places.<br />
    11. 11. Felson (1996) concludes that exposure to television violence probably does have a small effect on violent behavior for some viewers, possibly because the media directs viewers attention to novel forms of violent behavior that they would not otherwise consider. <br />Click on this link to view a short presentation<br />
    12. 12. Media Violence is Not to Blame for School Violence<br />
    13. 13. Trends in Media Violence<br />
    14. 14. Trends in Youth Violence<br />
    15. 15. Trends in School Violence<br />
    16. 16. Inconclusive Research<br />Researchers have conducted a number of experiments in an attempt to prove a correlation between media violence and youth violence with inconclusive results<br /> - laboratory research<br /> - field experiments<br />
    17. 17. Natural Experiments<br />Compared three Canadian towns in the 1970s<br />Television was introduced into one town during the experiment; the other two already had television<br />Results showed equal increase in violent behavior<br /> “To accept the findings, one must assume that the community without television at the beginning of the study had more aggressive children than the other communities for other reasons, but that this effect was counteracted in the first phase by the fact that they were not exposed to television. That assumption implies that there are other differences between the communities and thus casts doubts on the findings of the study” (Felson, 1996, pp. 107-108)<br />
    18. 18. Findings of the Safe School Initiative<br /><ul><li> Examined the perpetrators of 37 incidents of targeted school violence
    19. 19. Found no useful profile
    20. 20. Most common trait was a history of suicide attempts and suicidal behavior</li></li></ul><li>Effects of the Environment<br />Exposure to community violence<br />Violence in every day life<br />Lack of social capital and support networks<br />
    21. 21. Weapons Availability and Violence<br />
    22. 22. Media Violence is not to Blame<br />No evidence to indicate a correlation between viewing violent media and perpetrating acts of school violence<br /> - contradictory statistical evidence<br /> - Flawed and inconclusive research<br /> - influence of other factors<br />
    23. 23. Conclusion<br />
    24. 24. References<br />American Psychological Association. (1993). Volume I: Summary report of the American Psychological Association Commission on Violence and Youth. Washington, DC:Author. <br />Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analysis review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353-359. <br />Buchman, B.J., & Anderson, C.A. (2001). Media violence and the American public: Scientific facts versus media misinformation. American Psychologist, 56, 477-489<br />Ceballo, R., Dahl, T.A., Artakis, M.T., & Ramirez, C. (2001). Inner-city children’s exposure to community violence: How much do parents know? Journal of Marriage & Family, 63 (4), 927-941.<br />Center for Communications and Social Policy. (1998). National television violence study (vol.3). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. <br />Centerwall B.S. 1989. Exposure to television as a cause of violence. In Public Communication and Behavior, ed. G. Comstock, 2:1-58. Orlando: Academic<br />Felson, R.B., (1996). Mass media effects on violent behavior. Annual Review of Sociology,Vol. 22, 103-128<br />Gabrino, J., Kosteleny, K., & Dubrow, C. (1991). What children can tell us about living in danger. American Psychology, 46, 376-383. <br />Hearold S. 1986. A synthesis of 1043 effects of television on social behavior. In Public Communication and Behavior, ed. G. Comstock, 1:65-133. San Diego, CA: Academic. <br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Jipguep M.C., Sanders-Phillips K., (Autumn, 2003). The context of violence for children of color: violence in the community and in the media: The Journal of Negro Education. Vol. 72, No. 4 379-395<br />National Television Study. (1998). National Television Study (vol. 3) Santa Barbara: University of California, Santa Barbara, Center for Communication Social Policy. <br />Rosenthal, B.S. (2000). Exposure to community violence in adolescence: Trauma symptoms. Adolescence, 35, 271-284.<br />Wiegman O, Kuttschreuter M, Baarda B, 1992. A longitudinal study of the affects of television viewing on aggressive and antisocial behaviors. Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 31:147-64<br /><br />
    25. 25. References (cont’d)<br />Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J. D., Linz, D., et al. (2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4(3) , 81-110. <br />Blumstein, A. (2002). Youth, guns, and violent crime. The Future of Children, 12(2) , 39-53. <br />Ceballo, R., Dahl, T. A., Aretakis, M. T., & Ramirez, C. (2001). Inner-city children&apos;s exposure to violence: How much do parents know? Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(4) , 927-940. <br />Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008). Media violence facts and statistics. Retrieved January 30, 2010, from National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center:<br />Dinkes, R., Kemp, J., and Baum, K. (2009). Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2009 (NCES 2010–012/NCJ 228478). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC.<br />Felson, R. B. (1996). Mass media effects on violent behavior. Annual Review of Sociology, 22, 103-128. <br />Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2009). Juvenile Arrest Rates by Age, Sex, and Race (1980-2008). Retrieved January 30, 2010, from OJDP Statistical Briefing Book:<br />Olson, C. K. (2004). Media violence research and youth violence data: Why do they conflict? Academic Psychiatry, 28(2), 144-150. <br />Puzzanchera, C. (2009). Juvenile justice bulletin: Juvenile arrests 2008. Washington, D.C.: Office of Justice Programs. <br />Siegel, A. E. (1958). The influence of violence in the mass media upon children&apos;s role expectations. Child Development, 29(1), 35-56. <br />US Surgeon General. (2001). Youth violence: A report of the surgeon general. Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human Services. <br />Vossekuil, B., Fein, R., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002). The final report and findings of the safe school initiative: Implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Washington, D.C.: US Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, and US Secret Service, National Threat Assesment Center.<br />Wright, D. R., & Fitzpatrick, K. M. (2006). Social Capital and adolescent violent behavior: Correlates of fighting and weapon use among secondary school students. Social Forces, 84(3) , 1435-1453. <br />