Impact of Television Violence in Relation to Juvenile Delinquency Essay. When children are taught how to tie their shoes, it is because of how their parents showed them. When children are taught how to do math problems, it is because of how their teachers show them.
How does television affect our children with all of the role models? Many adults believe that because they watched television when they were young and were not negatively affected, their children should not be affected either. However, we must realize that television today is different than in the past, with more prevalent violence in programming. The effects of television violence have been a concern since the beginning of television. Congressional hearings as early as the 1950s addressed the impact of television programs on juvenile crime, showing the need for continued examination of this issue.
These hearings were only the beginning of continuing congressional investigations by this committee and others from the 1950s to the present. In addition to the congressional hearings begun in the 1950s, there are many reports that have been written which include: National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (Baker & Ball, 1969); Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior (1972); the report on children and television drama by the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (1982); National Institute of Mental Health, Television and Behavior Report (NIMH, 1982; Pearl, Bouthilet, & Lazar, 1982); National Research Council (1993), violence report; and reports from the American Psychological Association’s “Task Force on Television and Society” (Huston, et al., 1992) and “Commission on Violence and Youth” (American Psychological Association, 1992; Donnerstein, Slaby, & Eron, 1992). All of these reports agree with each other about the harmful effects of television violence in relation to the behavior of children, youth, and adults who view violent programming.
The only thing we know about the effects of exposure to violence and its relationship to juvenile delinquency is gathered from correlational, experimental, and field studies that demonstrate the effects of viewing on the attitudes and behavior of children and adults. Children begin watching television at a very early age, sometimes as early as six months, and become intense viewers by the time they are two or three years old. In most cases, the amount of televised viewing becomes greater with age and then tapers off during adolescence.
The violence viewed is more important than the amount of television viewed. According to audience rating surveys, the typical American household has the television set on for more than seven hours each day, and children aged 2 to 11 spend an average of 28 hours per week viewing (Andreasen, 1990; Condry, 1989; Liebert & Sprafkin, 1988). The most important documentation of the amount of violence viewed by children on television is the studies conducted by Gerbner and his colleagues on the nature of American television programs. The results of these yearly analyses of the amount of violence on American television for the 22-year period 1967-89 indicate a steady but growing high level of violence (Gerbner, 1990). Programs especially designed for children, such as cartoons, are the most violent of all programming.
How many times have we all seen the Coyote try to kill the Road Runner? GI Joe and many other programs also represent violence and the use of deadly weapons. Overall, the levels of violence in prime-time programming have averaged about five acts per hour, and children’s Saturday morning programs have averaged about 20 to 25 violent acts per hour (Lichter & Amundson, 1992). However, a recent survey by the Center for Media and Public Affairs identified 1,846 violent scenes broadcast and cablecast between 6 a.m. to midnight during one day in Washington, D.C.
The most violent periods were between 6 to 9 a.m. with 497 violent scenes (165.7 per hour) and between 2 to 5 p.m.
With 609 violent scenes (203 per hour), most of which are shown during hours not generally viewed by adults, violence in the early morning and afternoon is viewed by children and youth. This raises the question: what are the effects of this televised violence on our children? (Lichter & Amundson, 1992)