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Affect of Media on School Violence

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Affect of Media on School Violence

Nisha Gajjar

AP Lang

Affect of Media on school violence.

Whether or not exposure to media violence causes increased levels of aggression and violence in young people is the perennial question of media effects research. Some experts, like University of Michigan professor L. Rowell Huesmann, argue that fifty years of evidence show "that exposure to media violence causes children to behave more aggressively and affects them as adults years later." Others, like Jonathan Freedman of the University of Toronto, maintain that "the scientific evidence simply does not show that watching violence either produces violence in people, or desensitizes them to it."

In the past year, high school shootings have erupted in cities like Paducah, Ky.; Springfield, Ore.; and, most recently, in Littleton, Colo., where Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and killed 12 classmates and one teacher, and subsequently committed suicide at Columbine High School. Congress, in an attempt to discover a source for teenage violence, has introduced a number of bills that would investigate the possibly negative psychological effect of the media. For example, the School Violence Act of 1999 would form a committee to "make findings and specific recommendations regarding ... the impact of entertainment, media and cultural influences."

Responding to a perceived increase in media violence, one of the many bills that Congress has introduced asks the Surgeon General to write a comprehensive report on media and violence. Has the trend in film been toward increasing violence?Dramatic expression has been violent from the very beginning. Our basic literature courses read the translated works of Homer, which go back to close to 3,000 years. Read "Iliad" and "Odyssey" - it's ugly, bloody stuff. Dramatic violence was not invented by 11 movie executives at Universal Studios last Thursday. This is the way of drama, the way of dramatic expression. And it's not a harmful, but a useful purpose, which was identified 2,500 years ago by Aristotle - and that, is purgation, catharsis.

We are violent creatures. The universe is a violent place - that's not all it is, but it's certainly that. We need useful, affirmative and healthful channels for that aggressive and violent aspect of our nature. And that's what the theater is; it's a safe place to play out emotions that would in the real world be lethal. The "reel" violence helps us survive the "real" violence. People will always say that the problem with this stuff is that it numbs, it desensitizes us to violence,

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