Violence on Television

"There was murderers going around killing lots of people and stealing

jewelry." This quote comes from the mouth of an eight year old girl after

watching the evening news on television. The eight year old girl claims

that she is afraid "when there is a murder near because you never know if

he could be in town" (Cullingford, 61). A recent report from the National

Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) pools evidence from over 2,500 studies

within the last decade on over 100,000 subjects from several nations to

show that the compiled evidence of television\'s influence on behavior is so

"overwhelming" that there is a consensus in the research community that

"violence on television does lead to aggressive behavior" (Methvin, 49).

Given that the majority of scientific community agrees that "the research

findings of the NIMH publication support conclusion of a causal

relationship between television violence and aggressive behavior" (Wurtzel,

21), why is it that "the Saturday morning "kid vid ghetto" is the most

violent time on T.V." (Methvin, 49), and that "despite slight variations

over the past decade, the amount of violence on television has remained at

consistently high levels" (Wurtzel, 23)? Why is it that, like the tobacco

companies twenty years ago, the present day television broadcasting

companies refuse to consent that violent films and programming can and do

have harmful effects on their viewers (Rowland, 280) What can be done to

combat the stubborn minded broadcasting companies and to reduce the amount

of violent scenes that infest the current air waves?

The television giants of today, such as ABC, CBS, and NBC continue to

air violent shows, because they make money off of these programs. In

general, society finds scenes of violence "simply exciting" (Feshbach, 12).

Broadcasting companies argue that "based on the high ratings, they are

giving the public what it wants, and therefore are serving the public

interest" (Time, 77). Michael Howe states: "We have to remember that

children and adults do enjoy and do choose to watch those programs that

contain violence" (48). At the same time, however, we must also remember

the undeniable truth that "there is clear evidence between television

violence and later aggressive behavior" (Palmer, 120). Because violent

television has been proven time and time again to play an active role

toward inciting hostile behavior in children, the level of combative

programming must be reduced. The media argument that high ratings

correspond with the public\'s best interest is simply not valid. Even the

American Medical Association agrees that the "link between televised

violence and later aggressive behavior warrants a major organized cry of

protest from the medical profession" (Palmer, 122). The issue of the

public\'s infatuation with television can be paralleled with that of a young

child and his desire for candy and "junk foods." The child enjoys eating

such foods, though they produce the harmful effects of rotting away at his

teeth. With a parent to limit his intake of such harmful sweets, however,

the child is protected from their damage. Similarly, the American public

desires to view violent programs at the risk of adapting induced aggressive

behaviors. Because the networks refuse to act as a "mother," and to limit

the amount of violence shown on television, there are no restrictions to

prevent television\'s violent candy from rotting away at the teeth of

society.

Harry Skornia claims that "it is naive and romantic to expect a

corporation to have either a heart of a soul in the struggle for profits

and survival" (34). But who, then, is to take responsibility for the

media\'s actions if not the industry itself? Because there has not been any

sufficient answers to this question so far, "television violence has not

diminished greatly; nor have Saturday morning programs for children, marked

by excessively violent cartoons, changed much for the better" (Palmer,

125). One may ask: "Why can\'t the government or the Federal Communications

Commission (FCC) intervene to control the amount of violent programming

that currently circulates during most broadcasting hours?" Edward Palmer

states: "The FCC\'s reluctance to regulate - especially directly about

violent content - is consistent with that of many other groups. Because

the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, no direct censorship

os programming has ever been advocated by responsible groups concerned with

the problem of television violence" (124). The American Broadcasting

Company (ABC) holds fast to its claim that there are no scientific findings

that show a link between television violence and unusually violent behavior

in children (Rowland, 279). The network executives at ABC express the

ideals that "they are self-confident about the lack of both a serious case

against them and of any sincere willingness by Congress to