Group Enlists Parents to Fight TV Violence Attorneys General Decry Media Influence

Article excerpt

Here's a pop quiz for parents.

If a vigilante thug knocks at your door and announces his intention to entertain your children by stabbing and shooting to death a gang of "bad guys," would you let him in?

That might sound like a ridiculous question, but these days vigilante violence, mayhem, and even murder are routine events in most American living rooms. The culprits gain entry not through the front door but through the glowing screen of a television set. By the time a youngster graduates from elementary school he or she will have witnessed 8,000 killings on TV, say researchers. Many studies confirm that this is not just benign "entertainment." Development of the V-chip and a planned television rating system are expected to help address the problem. But a coalition of all state attorneys general and the American Medical Association say parents must play the most important role in protecting their children. They are urging parents to, in effect, keep their doors closed to violence on television and in other media. "Would any of us deliberately invite someone into our homes to teach our children that violence is a good way to solve problems, will likely be rewarded, and causes no pain?," asks J. Joseph Curran Jr., attorney general for Maryland. Mr. Curran and the nation's other attorneys general are concerned about the issue because research shows that violent programs spark aggressive behavior in certain children. Law-enforcement officials say they are struggling to counter what they call an "epidemic" of juvenile violence that they say is partly linked to TV shows, movies, and video games that are desensitizing kids. To reverse this trend, the attorneys general are asking parents to monitor the content of television shows and of every CD, video game, and computer activity, to make sure they don't include destructive themes and negative influences. "To reduce violence in society we must reduce children's exposure to media violence," says Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. …