Juvenile Crime Analysis

1175 words - 5 pages

In 1997, fourteen-year-old Michael Carneal fired a .22 caliber handgun at an informal prayer group in his high school in West Paducah, Kentucky, killing three students and wounding five. In 1998 in Pearl, Mississippi, sixteen-yearold Luke Woodham first killed his mother, and then went to school and shot nine students, killing two. In the same year, fifteen-year-old Kip Kinkel shot and killed his parents and two classmates and wounded twenty-three others. In 2000, a first-grader in Michigan shot and killed another six-year-old after a schoolyard quarrel the day before.
Events such as these have raised concerns about an increase in juvenile crime despite statistics that reveal a decline. ...view middle of the document...

The film, which depicts the descent of a promising young poet and basketball player into a sordid life of heroin addiction, contains a dream sequence in which the central character breaks down a door at his high school and kills his classmates with a shotgun. The parents of the three slain girls in Kentucky claim that the violence depicted in the movie— particularly in that scene—influenced Carneal to commit his crime, and they have filed a lawsuit against the makers of the film, Time Warner and Polygram Film. The parents are not alone in their argument, however, as sociologists, psychologists, and even the entertainment industries have begun to examine the amount of violence in the media and its effect on young people.
In 1994, the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) launched the National Television Violence Study (NTVS), which evaluated the content of violent television programming from 1994 to 1997. The study found that the violent content of television shows increased from slightly over one-half of prime time programming to two-thirds of all programming by the end of the study. Seventy-five percent of violent scenes showed no punishment for the characters’ aggressive actions. In addition, many of the villains and heroes on television and in movies experience little or no injury from their gunshot wounds, stabbings, or broken limbs. Psychologists claim that the sheer volume of violence depicted in the media teaches children to respond to everyday situations with aggression. Moreover, because the media do not realistically depict the negative consequences of violence, critics assert, young people are further encouraged to imitate the actions of heroic figures on television.
The NTVS study also revealed that juveniles who watch a lot of television seem to be less disturbed by violence in general and are less likely to see anything wrong with it. By the time most young people graduate from high school, they will have witnessed an average of 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders on television and in movies. Experts claim that such exposure to violence decreases a child’s sensitivity to another person’s pain and suffering. Having seen so many acts of violence, children may lose their capacity for empathy and become less distressed by real acts of violence. Psychologist Leonard Eron concludes that “there can no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime, and violence in society. The evidence comes from both the laboratory and real-life studies. Television violence affects youngsters of all ages, of both genders, at...

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