Media Violence And Its Effects On Children


Introduction
Communications technology is expanding through the entire global community (Dyson 2). Children everywhere are being born into a world of images and messages, which are largely separated from their home, school and spiritual lives (Dyson 2). In society today storytellers are seldom parents, grandparents, teachers or the clergy; instead they are the handful of distant forces with something to sell (Dyson 2). What is unique about the media industry is that in global and corporate domination they have become part of our culture as well as our identity (Dyson 3). Social scientists and child advocates have been exploring the effects of media for decades, yet it is only recently that the concern has generated a public debate (Bok 3).
Historical
Disagreements concerning the effect of violence revealed in works of art and entertainment have resonated over the centuries (Bok 41). We must ask ourselves whether or not our versions of entertainment exhibits anymore violence then past forms of recreation, for example gladiatorial games or public hangings (Bok 23).
Plato viewed human life as a pilgrimage from the appearance to reality (Bok 41). He also believed that a piece of art had to be strictly censored when they depicted any form of evil and cruelty (Bok 41). When an artist imitated what was bad, they add to the sum of badness in the world (Bok 41). Both Plato and Aristotle pointed out, we as humans do find delight in representations of objects and emotions that would consider different from real life; most of us agree with Aristotle in refusing to believe that they are corrupt (Bok 41).
The Romans remain the prototype for violent entertainment at its most extreme (Bok 17). It was a culture, which sanctioned tradition, foreign conquest was a domestic culture, and weapons were easily available (Bok 17). The treatment of newborns and slaves within the home extended to crucifixions and other brutal punishments (Bok 17). Though on a whole the Romans did not criticize their choice of entertainment, one philosopher, Seneca, did.
To exhibit the slaughter of eighteen elephants in the
Circus, pitting criminals against them in a mimic battle
[and] thought it a notable kind of spectacle to kill human
beings after a new fashion. Do they fight to the death?
That is not enough! Are they torn to pieces? That is not
Enough! Let them be crushed by animals of monstrous
Bulk! (Bok 18)
Such entertainment was so popular that most military encampments had their own amphitheaters, and hundreds of others were built for the public around the Empire (Bok 19).
No people before or after were so centred around displays of mortal combat as did the Romans (Bok 15). The only difference between today's society and that of the one during the last two centuries B.C., other than the degree of violence, is the openness of debates (Bok 20). Our institutions allow for open discussion and debate that the Romans were unable to have (Bok 20). People during all periods of time have derived some sort of sensual, aesthetic and even at time erotic thrills from viewing violent act (Bok 28). It would be unfair to conclude that in today's society such spectators and consumers of media are guided by no other motive (Bok 28).
Extreme Acts in Recent History
Though there has always been crime and violence never has there been such extreme acts, as the few which have been committed in the recent years. One very well known instance was the brutal death of James Bulger a British toddler. The movie Child's Play 3 was under debate when two ten-year old boys tormented and murdered the child (Bok 38). The Film was then criticized when Suzanne Capper was kidnapped, tortured and set on fire as the group of young acquaintances chanted: I'm Chucky. Wanna play? (Bok 38).
Another even more recent and closer incident was the Columbine massacre. There is a striking similarity between the US incident and the actions which were occurring in Kosovo at the time (Rosenblatt 1999). A tribe of haters is Serbia and an ad hoc tribe of haters in Colorado (Rosenblatt 1999). In both of these cases the individuals discover self-worth by hating an enemy (Rosenblatt 1999). Another similarity is the built up anger for