What is to Blame for Youth Violence?: The Media, Guns, Parenting, Poverty, Bad Programs, Orâ ¦

Essay by SBones May 2004

download word file, 6 pages 3.6

The first-ever Surgeon General's report on youth

violence was recently released by Dr. David Satcher, a

Clinton appointee who still holds his position in the

Bush Administration. The report hardly made a ripple

in the public debate, but what caught my attention was

the press reports regarding what wasn't in the report,

rather than what was.

In a press conference when the report was

released, Dr. Satcher was asked about media violence,

and he responded that the media is not a major

influence on youth violence. As someone who has read

dozens of studies and reports about the impact of

media violence on children and society, I was

surprised to hear this. It sounded eerily like a

recent report on ABC's 20/20 claiming that media

violence does not cause violence and may actually be

good for kids.

But what about the voluminous stack of research

reports on the impact of media violence on youth? When

a TV news magazine claims that TV violence is not

dangerous, I don't take it too seriously, but the

Surgeon General's report was a different matter.


importantly, I wondered how parents and others would

respond to the "news." This article takes a careful

look at the new report, the 20/20 story, and the

research on media violence, and tries to figure out

what is going on.

On ABC, Jonathan Freedman, a psychology professor

at Toronto University who happens to receive funding

from the Motion Picture Association of America,

claimed that research does not support the notion that

media violence causes aggression. He trashes reports

by the American Psychological Association, the

American Academy of Pediatrics, and others that claim

that more than 1,000 studies prove the case against

media violence, saying: "There aren't over a thousand

studies. There are about 200 studies, give or take...