For too many people, violence is an ordinary way to be entertained, settle arguments, or blow off emotional steam.
Violence is the result of an array of forces coming together. Recently, we have come to recognize that exposure to violence in the media can be one of those forces. American children spend more time each week watching TV than engaging in any other activity except sleeping. But violence is not limited to TV; it can be found in music, video games, newspapers, comic books, magazines, and movies.
Exposure to violence can result in children being less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, more fearful of the world around them, and more willing to behave aggressively. Children imitate what they see. Take a look at what your children are seeing. Remember, most media violence can be turned off.
Look at What You're Watching
Take a hard look at what you, your family, and friends watch on television — "action" movies, talk shows, soaps, sitcoms, cop shows, and even news programs. Ask the same questions about movies, videotapes, comics, and computer and video games.
What values are they teaching? Are the characters racist, sexist, or stereotypes? Do they make violence appear exciting or humorous or macho? Do they solve real-life problems without violence? Do the programs show how the victims of violence, their families, and friends suffer? Do the programs teach skills or convey unique, interesting information?
Look at What You're Doing
What words or actions trigger your anger? Maybe it's the way someone looks at you, a tone of voice, or an action, such as pointing a finger. Once you know your triggers, you can better control your reactions.
When you are angry, do you use words that shame, humiliate, or intimidate? Remember that words can hurt; they can provoke violent actions.
How do children you know take out their anger? Do they imitate words and body language? Are you proud of the way they handle conflict?
Look at your anger. Talk it out, exercise it out, write it out, sing it out — but don't take it out on anyone else. Learn how to settle disagreements without using violence.
Act Against Violence CampaignCorporation for Public Broadcasting901 E Street, NW Third FloorWashington, DC 20004-2037 202-879-9839Presents programming on the causes of and response to youth violence, provides videoconferences and materials to community-based and national organizations to support community education and outreach activities.
Center for Media Literacy1962 South ShenandoahLos Angeles, CA 90034310-559-2944Produces a quarterly publication on media and values
"Squash-It" CampaignCenter for Health CommunicationHarvard School of Public Health677 Huntington AvenueBoston, MA 02115617-432-1038Reinforces school-based programs that help youth learn ways of resolving disputes peacefully.
The Family and Community Critical Viewing Project1724 Massachusetts Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20036-1969202-775-3629Teaches critical viewing skills to parents, teachers, and children. Distributes "Taking Charge of Your TV: A guide to Critical Viewing for Parents and Children."
Turn Off the ViolencePO Box 27558Mineapolis MN 55247612-593-8041A grassroots coalition which encourages people to choose nonviolent entertainment and nonviolent ways to deal with conflict. Sponsors the "Turn Off the Violence Day" campaign in October.
Crime Prevention Tips From:The National Crime Prevention Council1700 K Street, NW Second FloorWashington, DC 20006-3817