The correlation between violence in the media (particularly on television) and violence in schools is prominent subject matter in the study of mass media and its effects on society. Many articles have been written as more research has been done.
In an article titled “Children’s Attitudes Toward Violence on Television,” published in The Journal of Psychology, authors Kirstin Hough and Pilip Erwin describe a study performed on children in single-sex schools. While research has both confirmed and negated the link between violence on television and in schools, the authors contend that the inquiry is likely to bring up a very difficult conclusion. They hypothesize: “On balance, it seems likely that any relationship that may exist between watching television violence and perpetrating actual violence is likely to be a complex one, and a number of contributing factors must be considered.” (Hough, 411) From here they discuss the effects of desensitization to violence as a result of repeated television viewing, differences found between the effects of media violence found in girls and boys, and overall attitudes toward violence on television. The research team gathered information on the subjects’ viewing habits, preferences, and facilities by administering a 47-item questionnaire to 316 children aged 11-16 attending 4 single-sex grammar and secondary schools. The second part of the study consisted of a 30-item interview extracted from students whom did not participate in this particular study. What they found was this: by grouping the children into two groups (based on answers to the questionnaire), liberal or media-concerned, the former spent fewer time watching more violent programs while the latter spent more time watching less violent programs. In the end, the conclusion proved to be, indeed, very complex: “Although we examined a substantial number of personal characteristics, we found that the only variable that predicted children’s attitudes toward violence on television was the number of hours spent watching television.” (Hough, 414)
In an article named “Mounting Evidence Links TV Viewing to Violence” published in The Christian Science Monitor, author Mark Sappenfield takes a more rational approach to the matter. He contends: “For much of the past half century, the link between watching violence on television and violent behavior in everyday life has seemed an open question-embraced by one study, rejected by another, and largely left unanswered by years of congressional inquiries. That, however, is rapidly changing.” (Sappenfield, 1) His proof consists of the fact that six major medical associations, including pediatric and psychiatric, have stated that “evidence of a link is overwhelming, citing more than 1,000 studies in the past 30 years.” (Sappenfield, 1) He mentions a decrease in school violence in San Jose where grade school students were taught media awareness, a comparison between the effects of TV violence and expensive commercial advertisements, and a quote by Susan Villani, M.D., “Clearly, with more exposure [to media violence, children] do become more desensitized, they do copy what they see, and their values are shaped by it.” (Sappenfield, 1) He concludes with a quote by Professor Craig Anderson, “It doesn’t matter how much you study it, the results are the same.” (Sappenfield, 1) This goes to show that more evidence will appear linking the violence depicted on television to the violence demonstrated in schools.
An article titled “Violent Media Content and Aggressiveness in Adolescents: A Downward Spiral Model,” is an eclectic article that involves both the Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½hypodermic-needle model’ and the Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½minimal-effects model’ and argues that “both relationships, when modeled over time, should be mutually reinforcing, in what they call a downward spiral.” (Slater, 1) By surveying over 2,500 hundred students (the average being a 12-year-old male) analysts measured use of violent media content and aggressiveness over time among the covariates. Their evidence consists of a variety of calculations that involved multiple imputation, or a way of obtaining unbiased missing numbers, and statistics that include models regarding the aforementioned measurements present in the methodology. Conclusively, they do bring up some interesting discussion that deals with the time/growth/lag attributes of a distinguishable downward spiral, which they were successful in illustrating.
In a contrasting newspaper article titled “School Rampage” by Mike Snyder of The Houston Chronicle there is a significant lack of tangible resources among (what some may consider) a few other shortcomings. He states that “Ã¢Â?Â¦millions of youths listen to rock songs with angry lyrics, watch violent movies and television programs, or play computer games with violent themes. Few react to these influences by shooting classmates.” (Snyder, 26) From there he utilizes quotes from some professors and parents regarding the issue. Although they do state that youths, basically, watch and learn, some say there are far more sources of violence than just television, and one of them, Tonya Aultman-Bettridge, a researcher, states that, “Pointing to the media as a cause is a very dangerous thing.” (Snyder, 26) On the other hand, Pat Rosenberg, president of the Lamar High School P.T.O. in Boulder (where Columbine
occurred), believes, “Our children aren’t allowed to be children anymore.” (Snyder, 26) Amongst the mediocre objective methodology and evidence, Snyder concludes that children are, in fact, good by means of another quote and comforting evocation.
Hough, Kirsten J.; Erwin, Philip G. “Children’s Attitudes Toward Violence on Television.” The Journal of Psychology. July ’97. p411-15. MasterFILE Premiere on-line. Ebsco Publishing. December 4, 2004. Available online:
Sappenfield, Mark. “Mounting Evidence Links TV Viewing to Violence.” Christian Science Monitor. March 29, 2002. p1. MasterFILE Premiere on-line. Ebsco Publishing. December 4, 2004. Available online:
Michael D. Slater; Kimberly L. Henry; Randall C. Swaim; Lori L. Anderson. “Violent Media Content and Aggressiveness in Adolescents.” Communication Research. Vol. 6, 2003. December 4, 2004. Available online:
Snyder, Mike. “School Rampage.” Houston Chronicle. April 24, 1999. p26. Proquest Newspapers Houston Chronicle. Proquest. December 4, 2004. Available online: