Violence On Television Essay

“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).

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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

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


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