This article first appeared in the Boston Globe and again in the Telegram.
by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D. and Diane E. Levin, Ph.D.
If people are shocked by the killings in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which follow the killings in Stamps, Arkansas, which follow the killings in West Paducah, Kentucky, and Pearl, Mississippi, which follow on the heels of a more than doubling in violent crimes among youth since the mid-1980’s, then they haven’t been paying attention.
Children in the United States are swimming in a culture of violence which has its effects from subtle to deadly on every child. The violence comes in many forms–family abuse, violence on the streets, in the community, violence in the news. Every 10 seconds a child in this country is abused or neglected. Every 2 hours a child is killed by a firearm.
And then there is entertainment violence–every child’s automatic membership in a media-saturated, popular culture that glorifies violence through images, actions, and models marketed to children via television, toys and other products, videos, video games, and Hollywood films. On television alone, children see 32 acts of violence every hour and over 1,000 murders a year. Teachers and researchers have been warning for more than a decade that this violent culture marketed to children has harmful effects, both in the present and for the long term.