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Does television impact youth violence?

Continuing the discussion on the epidemic of violence especially among youth, several people have written about the effects of violent television and video programmes; here are two responses.

Geoff Marfleet from Samoa (Pacific) writes: Reading your articles with interest; may I offer a few comments for what they are worth. Every country has its problems with youth, to a greater or lesser extent, and I don't believe there is any ‘quick fix’. A caring, loving and stable family environment is the foundation for the upbringing of our children. The community could do far more in assisting our youth by providing them with appropriate activities, such as through government and church sponsored youth centres, since the problem of paid employment is always an issue in our small communities.

I also agree that more care should be taken in selecting the movies which are readily available at cinemas and electronically. The vulgarity, violence and filthy language shown on some of these movies should be knocked on the head at its source. It is no wonder some of the more vulnerable young people are the way they are. Alas, in our small islands the influences of ‘big brother’ is being felt more and more, but I suspect that in the long run we will all survive, I am pretty sure this will be the case for Samoa.

Taking another view, a writer from Seychelles (Indian Ocean) says: I would like to argue against the idea that television plays an important role in promoting violence amongst young people or society in general. On the other hand, I will support all those who maintain that society itself furthers violence, but I will argue that capital punishment is not the answer.

All wars, in my opinion, are bloody and ugly and at the end of the day are not justified, no matter what intelligent arguments we push forward. If we go back to olden times, when television did not exist, those were to me the bloodiest of wars. Human beings crushed each other as they surged forward on horseback in their quest to literally tear each other apart using whatever sharp weapons they possessed at the time.

Consider the concentration camps and the gas chambers. They came along at a time when the television was showing the Indians fighting the Cowboys. Today the world is hearing about genocide, adults sexually abusing months-old babies and other ugly forms of violence; and lately the clichéd ‘Bushism’ fight against terror.

The television does show a lot of violence, whether on the news or entertainment programmes such as films. However, these programmes reflect the violent history of the world; situations that have resulted from humans’ misunderstandings, their ignorance and vice.

I would agree with the writer who says that it is the little things that count. And little things have a habit of growing in size - if not taken care of, they very often blow out of proportion. When an individual commits a violent act, it is not that he has seen it on TV, it is because he is so far gone in his mental state that he is not capable of reasoning anymore.

It is for this reason that we cannot fight terror with terror, or kill someone because he has killed. Killing does not make the pain any better, nor does it bring back the victim even if the act is committed in the name of the law.

Society needs to re-evaluate itself. Accept the fact that we have gone wrong, somewhere, somehow, and see how best to help solve the problem rather than finding scapegoats for a situation for which we alone are responsible.

Messages In This Thread

How much more? (crime and violence)
newspaper article -- Tuesday, 22 July 2003
Reducing crime and violence: education versus harsh penalties
B. Conrich, B. Potter, J. Robinson, writers from Cook Islands and Niue -- Tuesday, 5 August 2003
Does television impact youth violence?
G. Marfleet and a writer from Seychelles -- Tuesday, 2 September 2003
The power of communication: listening to young people
J. Maneniaru, M. Masayos, A. Perrine, P. William -- Tuesday, 19 August 2003
Breaking the cycle of crime and violence
Brian Mommsen -- Tuesday, 16 September 2003

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