Experts say kids are what they see


VIOLENCE:  Health professionals link behavior and the media in the most definitive statement on the issue so far



The Associated Press


          Washington - Children love teen horror flicks, shoot-'em-up interactive video games, hard-core rock and rap, and risqué television.

          And in one of the most definitive statements yet on violence in American culture, four national health associations link the violence in television, music, video games and movies to increasing violence among children.

          "Its effects are measurable and long lasting," the four groups say in a statement.  "Moreover, prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization towards violence in real life."

          The joint statement by the American Medical association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was the center piece of a public-health summit Wednesday on entertainment violence organized by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

          "The conclusion of the public-health community, based on over 30 years of research, is that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children," the organizations' statement says.

          Advocating a code of conduct for the entire entertainment industry, Brownback compared the statement to the medical community declaring that cigarettes cause cancer.

          "Among the professional community, there's no longer any doubt about this," Brownback said.  "For the first time, you have four major medical and psychiatric associations coming together and stating flatly that violence in entertainment has a direct effect on violence in our children."

          The Motion Picture Association of America and the National Association of Broadcasters refused to comment Tuesday.

          The four groups of health professionals left no doubt about their feelings in the statement:

v                 "Children who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts.  Children exposed to violence are more likely to assume that acts of violence are acceptable behavior."

v                 "Viewing violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life.  It can decrease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs."

v                 "Viewing violence may lead to real-life violence.  Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than children who are not so exposed."

          Brownback said he hopes the statement will convince lawmakers that something has to be done about media violence and parents to monitor their children's viewing.

          Jeff Bobeck, a spokesman for the national Association of Broadcasters, said television now has V-chips and a rating system to help parents take control of what their children watch.  "We think more parents need to control their remote control," Bobeck said.

          But Daphne White, executive director of the entertainment monitoring group, The Lion & The Lamb Project in nearby Bethesda, Md., disagreed.

          The entertainment industry markets video games and toys to children based on R-rated movies, has increased the violence in movies and shows that are rated for children and even previewed adult-oriented movies during children's G-rated movies, she said.

          "The industry has been actively marketing adult stuff to children while saying it’s the adult's fault," she said.

          Source: OC Register, Thursday July 27, 2000