S., Canada, and in South Africa. He chooses South Africa because TV was banned there from 1945 to 1974. Homicide rates increased enormously in the U.S. And Canada (93% and 92%, respectively) in those time periods — but homicide rates declined by 7% in TV-less South Africa. Is that really empirical evidence to support his case? Hardly.
Meantime, Centerwall asserts that because minority households didnt all have TV at a time when Caucasian households did, the white homicide rate increased much quicker than minority homicide rates. Again, it would be very difficult to verify such a strange juxtaposition of assertions. Centerwall injures his case by saying things like “every violent act” is the result of “forces coming together” (drugs, poverty, crime, booze, stress). But what about sports-related battles, domestic violence, bullying in school? Going way out on a limb, Centerwall insists that if there were no TV then there would be 70,000 fewer rapes, 700,000 fewer “injurious assaults,” and so on. That is the most ludicrous argument of any that were made in these two articles.
Using hot button phrases like “broad scientific consensus” and “every independent investigation” to prove his points about violence and TV — without empirical data to back it up — weakens Centerwalls argument. It should also be pointed out that Centerwalls attempt to discredit the TV industry is ineffective when he asserts (123) that the industry “routinely portrays” those who object to TV violence as “un-American haters of free speech.” While of course there were unkind things said during this period vis-a-vis TV violence and the influence on children, it is patently unfair and untrue to assert that the media corporations see every protest as coming from a person who hates free speech.
John P. Murrays take on TV violence and children: Meanwhile Murray provides several studies — including briefly presenting the same study (Eron) that Siano mocked and Centerwall championed — objectively, without any editorial critiques, which is helpful to the reader searching for calm, reasoned data. Murray offers a far more poignant, pragmatic solution to the problem than either of the other two writers presented in their articles.
Murray asserts that parents need to take charge at home. Parents need to talk to their children about violence, he explains. He doesnt go far enough though. He should have emphasized that parents can and should determine: a) how much TV their children should be allowed to watch each day and each week; and b) what programs are appropriate and what programs are not appropriate for their children to see. Murray also suggests that “intervention” at school would be helpful (media literacy courses could be taught), which is a bit vague and teachers might not agree to that.
Real world implications and my opinion: The truth of the matter in 2010 is that violent video games (in mesmerizing, hauntingly realistic 3D) are probably a bigger threat than TV in terms of children being affected by violence. Yes, these videos are rated for parents protection, but older kids are happy share with younger kids when mom is at work. “Manhunt” (stalking and bloody killings), “Resident Evil 5” (using chainsaws, swords and guns the player produces “copious” amounts of blood in killing people), and “Dead Rising” (zombies creating bloody mayhem) are extremely, hideously bloodthirsty and violent video games. When it comes to violent TV and violent video games, parents are either in charge of their childrens viewing habits or they arent. All the pointed arguments presented in this paper — pro-or con as to TV violence influencing kids — are just that, pointed arguments. The real issue is parenting. It always has been and always will be a matter of what leadership parents and families offer to their children. Smart, alert, informed parents will assert their authority and control what TV their kids watch and which video games they play.
Centerwall, Brandon S. “Television and Violent Crime.” The Public Interest, No. 111 (1993):
Murray, John P. “Television Violence and Its Impact on Children.”.