Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Rapeutationists and DIRA zombies are preconditioned for violent behavior by cinema and video game violence.

Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:36 am

Authors of the Research Articles

Carlos A. Arnaldo
Chief, Free Flow of Information and
Communication Research
Communication Division, UNESCO
Paris, France

Mike Berry
Graduate Student
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Eva Blumenthal
Graduate Student
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Nadia Bulbulia
Independent Researcher
Children and Broadcasting Forum and
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa

Ed Donnerstein
Dr, Full Professor
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Kevin Durkin
Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Western Australia
Nedlands, Australia

Joel Federman
Center for Communication and Social Policy
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Asa Finnstrom
Head of Section
Division for the Media, Ministry of Culture
Stockholm, Sweden

Titti Forsslund
Researcher, Freelance Journalist
Department of Research and Education
Stockholm School of Education
Stockholm, Sweden

Anura Goonasekera
Dr, Head of Research
Asian Media Information and Communication Centre
School of Communication Studies Building
Nanyang Technological University

Jo Groebel
Professor, Dr, Chair
Department of Media Psychology
Utrecht University
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Thomas Hammarberg
Ambassador and Special Advisor
to the Swedish Government on Humanitarian Issues
Stockholm, Sweden

Nancy Jennings
Doctoral Student
Radio-Television-Film Department
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, USA

Sachiko Imaizumi Kodaira
Senior Researcher
NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute
Tokyo, Japan

Dale Kunkel
Dr, Associate Professor
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Robert Lamb
TVE (Television Trust for the Environment)
London, United Kingdom

Dafna Lemish
Dr, Senior Lecturer
Department of Communication
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv, Israel

Olga Linne
Dr, Senior Lecturer, Postgraduate Course Tutor
Centre for Mass Communication Research
University of Leicester
Leicester, United Kingdom

Dan Linz
Dr, Full Professor
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Joanne M. Lisosky
Dr, Assistant Professor of Communication
Department of Communication and Theatre
Pacific Lutheran University Tacoma
Washington, USA

Jason Low
Dr, Researcher
University of Florida
Gainesville, USA

Tatiana Merlo-Flores
Dr, Senior Researcher
Universidad Catolica
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Stephen Nugent
Research Manager
Australian Broadcasting Authority
Sydney, Australia

Adriana Olivarez
Doctoral Student
Radio- Television- Film Department
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, USA

W. James Potter
Dr, Visiting Professor
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Keith Roe
Department of Communication
Catholic University of Leuven
Leuven, Belgium

Stacy L. Smith
Graduate Student
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Ellen Wartella
Professor, Dean
College of Communication and Walter Cronkite
Regents Chair in Communication
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, USA

Barbara J. Wilson
Dr, Full Professor
Department of Communication
University of California
Santa Barbara, USA

Sun Yunxiao
Associate Researcher, Director
Juvenile Research Institute
China Youth and Juvenile Research Center
Beijing, People's Republic of China

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Re: Children and Media Violence, by Ulla Carlsson

Postby admin » Sat Jun 27, 2015 1:33 am

In a typical week of television, there are over 800 violent portrayals that qualify as high risk for children under 7. Where are these hazardous portrayals located on television? Of all genres, children's programs contain the greatest number of these high-risk violent portrayals (N = 409). In other words, most of the portrayals that pose particular concern for teaching aggressive attitudes and behaviors to young children are contained in the very programs that are targeted to young viewers. Furthermore, nearly all of the children's programs that contain these kinds of portrayals are cartoons.

Of all channel types, child-oriented basic cable (Cartoon Network, Disney, and Nickelodeon) contains the most high-risk portrayals for young viewers. The individual channels and time periods that primarily feature cartoons are most responsible for this finding. However, it should be noted that not all cartoons contain high-risk portrayals. Adults often assume that violent cartoons are not a problem for children because the content is so unrealistic. However, this assumption is directly contradicted by research on the effects of viewing violence by younger children. Numerous studies show that animated programs have the potential of increasing aggressive behavior in young children (Hapkiewicz, 1979). Thus, violent cartoons should not be regarded as harmless, particularly for children under 7 years of age who have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy.


Studies by NHK ...suggested that the total atmosphere of TV programs could unsettle the children emotionally, even if the frequency of violent acts was not high ... research showed that programs with high violence received lower audience ratings.


It is often asserted in public debate that audiences, including the young, have become inured to violence in the media as a result of the sheer proliferation of aggressive content. Sheldon et al.'s (1994) study indicates that the true picture is more complex. For example, about half of their sample certainly professed liking programs that were 'action packed' with fights, guns and car chases. On the other hand, nearly two thirds said that they did not like to watch programs that show children being hurt or 'whacked'. Almost as many disliked programs which showed animals being hurt or parents arguing and fighting. When asked in the survey whether they had ever viewed anything which had upset or bothered them, 50% of children spontaneously listed incidents involving violence (contrasting with mentions of nudity and swearing, which appeared in only 8% and 2% of responses, respectively). Independent research by Cupit (1997) yields compatible findings. He asked 1,500 South Australian upper primary children to identify scenes that they had witnessed on videos that left them with unwelcome memories, Approximately 25% of children spontaneously mentioned themes related to violence....We know from other Australian research that children often report that they do not like watching the news, in part because it is 'boring' but also because it contains realistic accounts of horrific, violent and frightening events (Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, 1990; Palmer, 1986; Sheldon & Loncar, 1996).


There is growing concern about the presentation of minority groups in Australian media, most notably Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people tend to be both underrepresented and misrepresented. They appear infrequently in many areas of television, for example, but when they do they are often associated with antisocial behaviour, drunkenness, violence and civil disturbances and race riots (Bell, 1993; Bosrock, 1993; Cuneen, 1994; Goodall, 1993; Nugent, Loncar, & Aisbett, 1993). Aggression in this context, then, is manifest in the media's contributions to the cultural marginalization of a minority group, in the stereotyping of ethnic groups as aggressive and problematic, and in the possible encouragement in the larger community of racist attitudes and aggressive behaviour towards people of indigenous background (Cahill &Ewen, 1992). The representation of Maori people in New Zealand's media is associated with some similar concerns, though the more complex history of colonial relations in that country has given rise to a correspondingly more ambivalent (occasionally very idealised) pattern of representation (Blythe, 1994).


On May 1st, 1994, an article under the title "Dozens of Children were Hurt in WWF Style Fights" appeared in the Israeli's major daily newspaper Yediot Acharonot:

"Hocked" on the wrestling television series WWF, dozens of children from the north were hurt when they tried to imitate their idols with friends. Parents living in Nahariya claim that as a result of intensified viewing of the television series -- in which all the exercises are staged -- many children in the town became "addicted" to performing the exercises in reality.

Dozens of children in the north have broken hands or legs during WWF style fights. A 10-year-old boy told Yediot Acharonot: "We were practicing and one of the boys broke his leg. I accidentally broke a girl's arm. Those were just from a few blows. But I have been expelled from school three times because of these kinds of accidents." Yesterday, after performing a backthrow and head turning exercise, a 15-year-old-boy in Nahariya lost consciousness. Luckily, he woke up after a few minutes.

As a result of the intensification of these accidents, the citizens of Nahariya are demanding a restriction on broadcasting of the wrestling series. Ilana, one of the children's mother: ''The blows exchanged at school have become routine. Dozens of children are being sent home after wrestling. It all starts as 'pretend' and ends 'for real'".


In Albania, there is a system of self-regulating, "ensuring that violent and erotic programmes are not aired at times when children might be watching television" (Pepo, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 14).

In the Republic of Azerbaijan the rules are: "For public protection, the distribution of films promoting violence and cruelty is liable for a prison term of up to two years or a fine of the equivalent of 700-800 times minimum wage" (Mirkassimov, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 15). Rather harsh, it appears.

From the Republic of Belarus, Andreev informs: "Any use of mass media, literature, shows, etc., which include pornography, the worship of violence and cruelty, or anything which may offend the human dignity and influence children in any harmful way by encouraging them to break the law is punishable by the law" (Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 16).

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, "the production and distribution of films is not governed by legislation. No special laws exist to regulate either children's film or children's television" (Selimovic, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 18).

In the Republic of Bulgaria, Dereliev et al. explain that a law was passed about radio and television in 1996: "In programming scheduled between 06.00 and 23.00 it is not permitted to include shows potentially harmful to the psychological, physical, and moral development of children and young adults" (Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 19).

The production and distribution of film are not subject to legislation in the Republic of Croatia. However, broadcasters, "must not offend the public morality, must not show pornography, accentuate violence or provoke racial, religious and ethnic hatred" (Alajbeg et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 21).

In the Czech Republic, "the broadcasting of programmes promoting violence and sex is prohibited by Czech television, which has set up an ethics panel to make recommendations in these matters" (Bajgar et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 23).

Estonia passed a law in 1992 and in article 48 it is stated: "It is forbidden to produce or demonstrate to children any printed material, films videos, or any other implements which propagate cruelty and violence" (Salulai et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p 24).

In the Republic of Georgia minors are protected from watching pornographic or violent films by law (Chigogidze, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 25).

The Hungarian Media Law of 1996 is very similar (Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 26).

The Latvian Electronic Mass Media Act of 1995, article 18.5 states: "Between 07.00 and 22.00 programmes containing violence in visual or textual form, plots associated with the use of drugs are prohibited" (Ruben is et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 28).

Lithuania passed a law in 1991 prohibiting "broadcasting of pornography or violence" (Luiga, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 30).

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia approved a law in 1997 and in article 35 it is stated: "Broadcasting of programmes with indecent content, and in particular with pornography or violence, shall not be permitted" (Lozanovski et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 31).

Moldova has a new law on mass media, but which does not specifically address children. However, the public broadcaster has adopted internal regulations (Pirtac, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 33).

The Broadcasting Act of 1992 in Poland also addresses violence on the screen (Grudzinska, in Irving and Tadros 1997, p. 35).

In Romania a law from 1994 prohibits pornographic and violent images (Chirila et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 37).

In Russia the Law on Mass Media of 1991 protects children from viewing pornography and violent images (Menshikov et al., in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 40).

The Slovak Republic has an Audiovisual Law from 1995. The protection of children from violent images on the screen has not until recently been acknowledged as problem in Slovak-produced shows. However Grujbarova argues: "Violent scenes are appearing more often, in imported television programmes and in foreign television programmes available through satellite or re-transmitted on cable. Without legislative initiative we can take only administrative measures ... in the form of licence terms or recommendations for broadcasters ... aimed to prevent excesses of violent contents or forms on screen" (Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 43).

In the Republic of Slovenia the public broadcaster RTV is preparing to accept a set of International regulations using the European Broadcasting Union model (Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 45).

Finally, in the Ukraine there are no specific laws mentioning violence on the screen (Polishchuk, in Irving and Tadros, 1997, p. 47).

Thus it appears that the majority of Eastern European countries recently have adopted legislation against the showing of violent images on the screen, at least during certain time periods.


The following countries participated in the core study: Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, Fiji, Germany, India, Japan, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Tadjikistan, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Ukraine....

The results demonstrate:

93% of the children in this study have access to a TV-set. The range is 99% for the North-Western hemisphere to 83% for Africa with Asia and Latin-America in between. In the areas surveyed, the screen has practically become a universal medium. For schoolchildren, it is the most powerful source of information and entertainment. Even radio and books do not have the same global distribution.

The world's children spend an average of 3 hours daily in front of the screen with of course a broad International spectrum of individual viewing behaviour. That is at least 50% more time spent with this medium than with any other out-of-school activity including home-work, being with family or friends, or reading.

Thus, TV has become a major socialization factor and dominates the life of children in urban and electrified rural areas around the globe.

In particular boys are fascinated by aggressive media heroes. Some of these, like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator, have become global icons; 88% of the world's children know him. 51% of the children from high-aggression environments (war; crime) would like to be like him as compared to 37% in the low-aggression neighbourhoods. Clearly, children need and use media heroes as role models to cope with difficult situations. And these are plentiful for the children of the world.

A remarkable large number live in a problematic emotional state. Nearly half of the children report that they are anxious most of the time or often; 9% had to flee their homesite at least once in their life; 47% report that they would like to live in another country. In the high-aggression areas, 16% of the children report that most people in their neighbourhood die because they are killed by others. Here, 7.5% of the children have already themselves used a weapon against someone.

In this situation, media heroes are used for escapism and compensation of the children's actual problems. For boys, it is primarily aggressive role models (30% name an action hero), for girls, pop stars and musicians. There are regional differences for the favourite heroes: Asia has the highest ranking for action heroes (34%), Africa the lowest (18%), with Europe and the Americas in between (25% each).

The children's world views are obviously influenced by actual as well as media experiences. Nearly one third of the aggression-environment group believe that most people in the world are evil as compared to a fifth in the low aggression group. A remarkable number of children from both groups report a strong overlap in what they perceive as reality and what they see on the screen (about 44%). Many children are surrounded by an environment where "real" and media experiences both support the view that violence is natural.

The impact of media violence can primarily be explained through the fact that aggressive behaviour is rewarded. 47% of those children who prefer aggressive media content would also like to be involved in a risky situation (as compared to 19% with another media preference). This holds again in particular for boys. In addition, nations with a high level of technological development reinforce the risk-seeking tendency. The broad spectrum of different available audio-visual communication means have increased the desire to permanently satisfy physiological stimulus needs which are triggered through aggressive media content.


Different forms of aggression are evaluated differently in the cultures of the world. We wanted to know whether a physical attack or a verbal insult is perceived as more "damaging". The results confirm the cultural differences: In Europe and Canada, children regard a physical attack with fists as worse (55.5%) than being given insulting names (44%). In Asia, the opposite is the case: for nearly 70%, verbal insults are worse than physical attacks (29%). Africa is similar to Asia (verbal: 63%, physical: 35%). Latin-America is balanced (50% each)....In situations of social conflict, children in Africa reported most frequently that they would regard physical attacks as adequate reaction: e.g., 32% hitting the other as reaction to verbal insult (Asia 15%, Latin-America 14%, Europe/Canada 16%); 9% even reported shooting the other as adequate.


Twice as many children in the "high technology"-group as in the "low technology"-group reported a risk-seeking tendency (20% versus 10%)....

This may have to do with two aspects:

a) the sensory stimulation is probably higher in high-technology environments; it thus creates a generally higher state of permanent arousal;

b) with a higher availability of media programming, the risk-seeking tendency is modelled into uniform patterns which mirror the content of the media (e.g., the car chase as a movie icon).

To test the latter, we linked the sensation-seeking tendency in an additional analysis with the preference for media content. The picture is clear. Children, and in particular boys, with a risk seeking tendency have a higher preference for aggressive media content than those who lack this tendency (boys: 40% versus 29%). When asked, whether they would themselves want to be involved in an aggressive situation, the tendency was even stronger: 47% of those who prefer aggressive media content would also like to be involved themselves in a risky situation (as compared to an average of 19% with other media preferences, range: 15%-23%). In the recent analysis, this result comes closest to a direct effects measure:

There is a link between the preference for media violence and the need to be involved in aggression oneself.


According to the children's ethics education outline issued by China State Education Commission in 1993 and referring to the contents and the standards of ethics as defined by the earlier researchers, we define the contents and the standards of the ethics learned by children as those which cover the main aspects of their individual and social lives. Ethics can be roughly divided into two kinds: (1) individual ethics -- individual ethics mainly refers to the social ethical standards that children learn and obey in order to satisfy their needs for self-development. It includes: in the aspect of material life -- eat food that benefits health, dress plainly and neatly, love sports, study hard, fulfill tasks independently, love labor, practice thrift; in the aspect of social life - strong desire for knowledge and information, love art. (2) social ethics -- social ethics mainly refers to the moral standards, the nature and the codes of conduct that a child should follow when he coordinates the relationships between himself and another person, a collective or the society. It includes: honesty, equality, independence, being ready to help others, care for collective, patriotism. The difference in children's ethics level lies in: (1) whether or not they obey all the ethics codes; (2) to what extent they can obey the rules....

Firstly, Chinese urban children are exposed to many kinds of mass media. Although most children watch TV, it does not lead to a lessening interest in print. Children have limited reading ability, however over 50% of Chinese urban children's contact with print (2,407) is higher than with electronic media (2,052). This is of great importance to children's all-round development, especially the formulation of modern concept, and intelligence development. When children are about 10 years old, they are able to select different media to meet their needs. They will choose electronic media such as television, tape recorder, video tape recorder or video game machine when they need recreation or stimulation; they will choose television, broadcast or newspaper when they want to get news; they will choose print such as books, magazines or newspaper when they want to realize the present world and understand themselves; they will choose video game machine, tape recorder, television and telephone when they want to lessen life pressures, loneliness and annoyance. More than half of the children like pop music, which means children are likely to become socially involved when they are pupils. If the time a child has contact with electronic media exceeds two hours a day, it is possible that the child's social intercourse and study, even his mental health, will be affected. Generally speaking, the frequency, duration and kinds of media that Chinese children have contact with are reasonable. The abnormal phenomenon of children lost in some electronic media has not spread out in China. One important reason is that the economy in China developed so rapidly that various media developed almost at the same time; thus it is possible for children to select media to satisfy their own needs. Besides, the proper care of schools and families play an important role.

Secondly, Chinese urban children have the principal nature of ethics and behavior, however it is not satisfactory. In the aspect of patriotism, they got the highest average mark that was 4.56 points (total 5 points); as for the three other aspects -- point of view on money, confidence and attitudes towards study -- their marks are above the average. In the aspects of care for collective and others, good habits and customs, aspiring after knowledge and arts, physical training and independence, they obtained a mark lower than average, and the lowest mark was 3.27 points in independence, which could not meet the demands of a modern society.

According to research on the personality development of Chinese urban only children, we find that the only child has a greater desire for affinity and persistence and that 70% of the only children can accept themselves. But most of the only children do not have a strong desire for achievement although they are in better living conditions and their parents place high hopes in them. Some only children are relatively aggressive, which has become a main shortcoming in their personality.

Thirdly, there exists a correlation between children's contact with media and their ethics points of view and behavior:

1. There exists a notable positive correlation between children's moral marks and the frequency and duration of children's contact with broadcast and print, such as newspapers, magazines, books, and so on. That is, the more frequently and longer children listen to broadcast and read newspapers, magazines and books, the higher moral marks they gain; the higher moral marks they gain, the more frequently and longer they have contact with these four kinds of media. On the contrary, there exists a negative correlation between children's moral marks and the frequency and duration of children's contact with television, video tape recorders and video game machine. That is, the more frequent and longer children's contact with television, video tape recorder and video game machine, the lower moral marks they gain; the lower moral marks they gain, the more frequent and longer their contact with these three kinds of media.

A study on Chinese children's ideological, ethical and cultural condition (including rural areas) in 1996 shows that as high as 75.4% of the primary pupils regard books as the most helpful to their growth (see Table 1).

As for middle school students, what they think is a little different from the primary school pupils (see Table 1). What is worth paying attention to is that 28% of the middle school students think that the computer is the most helpful, which ranks the sixth in the list. That is, at least 28% of the middle school students are computer users, and have entered the information society.

When we ask a primary school pupil or a middle school student "Which media in the list do you think has the worst effect on you?", 87.2% primary school pupils will answer that it is video game machine (see Table 2).

But we cannot simply conclude that electronic media is harmful to children. In fact, television, video tape recorder and video game machine are neutral; therefore their effects depend on the users -- who use them, how they use them, for what purpose they use them and how they understand them, and so on. Media is only one of the various factors that affect children's ethics development. Video game machine will exercise bad influence over a child when his/her family relations become strained, or when his/her own life is not successful or when he/she has a strong desire for violence.

2. As for the contact with print and broadcast, there is a notable difference between the high frequency group and the lower frequency group in their preference for the contents of the media: children in the high frequency group obviously prefer the educational contents on television, broadcast, newspaper and books; while the lower frequency group obviously prefers the recreational and stimulating programs and popular literature in books. There exists a notable positive correlation between the knowledgeable contents in different media and children's moral marks. Thus, our hypotheses are proved.

3. There exists a notable positive correlation between children's moral marks and the contents of children's literature in television, broadcast, newspaper, magazine and books. With the development of China's commodity economy, the main tendency of children's literature is healthy and helpful and good for children's development. And children think it is most helpful. Children's literature refers to animated cartoon TV plays, TV play serials for children, theatrical performances for children, fairy tales, children's stories, reportage, fables, essays in magazines and newspapers, and songs for children. We can conclude that children who gain high moral marks like children's literature, and there forms a benign cycle between the contents of children's literature and children's ethics development.

4. There exists a negative correlation between children's moral marks and the recreational and stimulating contents in television programs. The two possible reasons for this negative relationship are: (1) the ethical point of view and behavior standards that exist in the media are contrary to those that the children are asked to learn and follow; (2) when the ethical point of view and behavior standards that exists in media agree with those the children are asked to learn and follow, the negative relationship is probably caused by children's misunderstanding of the programs for adults because they lack the necessary and complete background knowledge; therefore they might misunderstand or distort the contents of the programs. Sometimes the two reasons take effect at the same time....

Based on our present results, we make the following suggestions:

1. Encourage children to come into contact with print and advocate and organize their listening to broadcasts for children. For this purpose, we should make well-known to parents and teachers the meaning of print and broadcast, and pass on all the effective experience.

2. Strengthen, promote and spread educational contents and children's literature. Guide children to better contact with the educational contents and children's literature in such media as television, broadcast, newspaper, magazine, etc.

(1) Encourage and advocate writers to produce high quality, educational and literary works which reflect children's lives so as to attract them to reading.

(2) Make great efforts to develop television art for children. Because of the lack of the literary and educational TV programs that are appropriate for them, children have been in contact with programs for adults, such as gong-fu films, amorous films, and so on. If this continues, it may probably cause misunderstanding and misbehavior because of their lack of knowledge and experience. According to a report in the 4th issue of Juvenile Study by China Youth and Juvenile Research Center, titled Tragedy from Teenage-Research on the Causes of 115 Capital Prisoners, all the 115 capital prisoners committed crimes during their teenage years. 30.5% of them had been juvenile offenders and 61.5% of them had criminal records by their teenage years. 103 of the 115 were affected by indecent video tapes, which accounted for 90%. A rapist raped a young girl when he saw two lovers flirting on TV. Thus, it is of great importance to give energetic support to the development of healthy television art for children.

3. Strengthen the guidance of children's use of television, video tape recorder and video game machine. Spread the related knowledge to parents and teachers. Improve children's ability to analyze and evaluate electronic media. Ask children to lessen the frequency of using electronic, audio and video media, for example, three times a week and 1.5 hours each time. Encourage children to learn to exist, care for others and develop themselves in order to grow up as physically and mentally healthy modern people.


Despite all the predictions of convergence and interactivity, television viewing remains a passive activity. The key players are the schedulers, programme commissioners and a handful of highly-regarded production companies -- an elite group who decide what viewers will see and when. These are the quintessential points of leverage in the industry who number in their hundreds.

Through their pathway to mass audiences they can powerfully influence decision-making. A myth is that by reaching policy/decision-makers with tailored programming, policies will be changed to favour sustainable development. Programmes that warrant prime-time coverage, generating national debate involving the general public must be the main target for organizations seeking to influence decision-makers.

With the public service ethic in broadcasting in steep decline, television is increasingly a world of cut-throat competition with tabloid formats becoming ever more popular. Almost exclusively stations are concerned with ratings or with targeting the special interest categories. They are especially concerned to attract youthful (14-30 years) viewers.

Encouragingly, this report finds there is a fund of goodwill among the commissioners for organizations like UNICEF that implement a sophisticated audiovisual policy. Its work in the field of animation, the professionalism of its ad spots and B Rolls and experience in brokering co-productions, give organizations like UNICEF a sound basis on which to achieve more coverage.

TVE recommends that staying in touch with the elite decision-makers in television, being sympathetic to their needs, providing stories and contacts and, from time to time, start-up to-finance, should be the priority for any agency seeking to step up coverage on television. Sympathetic tabloid TV journalists should be sought out. Agencies should give priority to maintaining a television VIP listing and to nurturing these contacts on an individual basis. Given the dominant share of English-speaking programming in the international sales market, special attention should be paid to the North American and UK commissioners.


The documentary conundrum

On a strict ratings criterion, development assistance agencies should end their involvement in documentary co-production. But with a rigorous set of rules applied, there remains a strong case for continued involvement in documentary production.

Documentaries have all but disappeared from the prime-time scheduling of major national broadcasters, including the public service broadcasters who have been forced to go downmarket in the ratings wars. But the tabloid format does not necessarily mean any loss in quality of coverage.

One-off documentaries and series in a tabloid as well as a blue chip format can still have a measurable impact on public opinion in inverse proportion to the numbers who see the programmes. There is also a significant international sales market not least because this kind of factual programming has 'shelf-life' and can be customised to meet national and regional broadcasters' requirements. Series and other forms of 'bulk' programming are most in demand, with single 'one off' documentaries difficult to place. The success of the Discovery Channel throughout the world is based on repackaging to suit national/regional audience preferences. Crucially, the documentary format can also be edited to meet cultural and religious sensitivities.

New technologies -- digital hi-8 cameras and non-linear editing equipment -- also offer the opportunity for the independent producer to make programmes to international broadcast standard at a fraction of the cost of a decade ago. The new digitised programme- making hardware and channels may yet offer the best hope for consistent and fearless in-depth coverage of environment and development.

TVE proposes that agencies should only support documentary production when all or most of the following criteria are fulfilled: commissions are within programme strands with proven above average audience ratings for factual programming; themes are directly relevant to their mission; co-production involving at least one or more major broadcaster; submission of promotional and distribution work plans; generous rights assignment to the agency for international distribution in whole or in part, in perpetuity.

The only exceptions should be: when the agency has a pressing policy need to see a programme broadcast in a particular country and/or territory; coverage of a subject (for example water or sanitation) with little media potential but which accords with an agency priority (there will always be reason for advocacy organizations to swim against the media tide).


According to new estimates, there are some 250 million children 5-14 years old who are toiling in economic activity in developing countries. For close to one-half of them (or 120 million), this work is carried out on a full time basis, while for the remaining one-half it is combined with schooling or other non-economic activities. Among school going children, up to one-third of the boys (33%) and more than two-fifths (42%) of the girls are also engaged in economic activities on a part-time basis.


World Wide Web

In 1995, the Voices of Youth (VOY) site on the World Wide Web was launched at the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) in Copenhagen, where it was an immediate success. It introduces children to child rights issues, and encourages them to express their views. Children from all over the world responded to the invitation to come forward with questions for government delegates attending the Summit.

After the Summit, we decided to continue VOY as a worldwide forum for children to express their views and dialogue on issues of development, peace and justice, and in particular those issues affecting their own lives. VOY is a good example of how today's technology can be used to bring young people together in a meaningful dialogue about issues that concern them. Indeed, the VOY website has just been chosen as one of "Seven Super Sites of the Month" by Kids' Space, a children's web magazine with readers in 124 countries, which chooses web sites that inspire children to learn and discover the world. For further information, contact Voices of Youth online at or Web site,

My City is an interactive animated CD-ROM game jointly funded by UNICEF and the Canadian government. The players, who Children's Participation in the Media become mayors of their city for a day, encounter a series of social and cultural issues based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As mayors, they must decide how to respond to each of these issues. They are given a budget at the start of their tenure, and a popularity meter indicates the success or otherwise of their policies with the voting public. The aim is for the mayor to stay in office without losing resources and popularity as she/he responds to the issues presented. The game encourages awareness and discussion of problems encountered by youth around the world, and encourages them to act on similar problems in their own communities.



1. Children should have programmes of high quality which are made specifically for them, and which do not exploit them. These programmes, in addition to entertaining, should allow children to develop physically, mentally and socially to their fullest potential.

2. Children should hear, see and express themselves, their culture, their language and their life experiences, through television programmes which affirm their sense of self, community and place.

3. Children's programmes should promote an awareness and appreciation of other cultures in parallel with the child's own cultural background.

4. Children's programmes should be wide-ranging in genre and content, but should not include gratuitous scenes of violence and sex.

5. Children's programmes should be aired in regular slots at times when children are available to view, and/or distributed via other widely accessible media or technologies.

6. Sufficient funds must be made available to make these programmes to the highest possible standards.

7. Governments, production, distribution and funding organisations should recognize both the importance and vulnerability of indigenous children's television, and take steps to support and protect it.


The Asian Declaration on Child Rights and the Media


adopt policies that are consistent with the principles of nondiscrimination and the best interests of all children;

raise awareness and mobilise all sectors of society to ensure the survival, development, protection and participation of all children;

address all forms of economic, commercial and sexual exploitation and abuse of children in the region and ensure that such efforts do not violate their rights, particularly their right to privacy;

protect children from material which glorifies violence, sex, horror and conflict; and,

promote positive values and not perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes.


be of high quality, made especially for them, and do not exploit them;

support their physical, mental, social, moral and spiritual development;

enable children to hear, see and express themselves, their culture, their languages and their life experiences through media which affirm their sense of self and community, while promoting an awareness and appreciation of other cultures;

be wide-ranging in genre and content, but not include gratuitous scenes of violence and sex; and,

be accessible to them at times when they need and can use it.


In Canada, five guiding principles underlying the approach of the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an independent organisation established by the Broadcasting Act, are identified: [7]

1. Abandon an ideological, legalistic and therefore combative approach in favour of a co-operative strategy recognising TV violence as a major mental-health problem for children.

2. Adopt the goal of protecting children, not censoring adults, in order to strike a reasonable balance between the right to freedom of expression and the right of children to a healthy childhood.

3. Stick to a focused agenda on gratuitous or glamorised violence, not diffusing efforts by adding sex, foul language, family values, specific feminist concerns or other distinct, more controversial issues.

4. Bring all players to the table -- broadcasters, advertisers, producers, parents, teachers, psychiatrists and the regulator.

5. Have both a short-term and long-term perspective.

In Japan the Broadcasts Law requires broadcasters to establish standards for programming and to set up consultative committees to ensure that programmes satisfy the stated standards. The public service broadcaster NHK states in its Standards of Domestic Programming: [8]

Under no circumstances shall acts of violence be permitted. ( ) Human life shall not be treated with contempt and neither shall the act of suicide be glorified. ( ) Criminals shall not be portrayed attractively and acts of crime shall not be treated with approval (...).

From the United States I cannot find any direct policy statement on violence in television. There is a general ban on child pornography (as elsewhere) and obscene material, operating at both Federal and State level. The ban on obscene material applies essentially to sex-related photographic and video material. But the First Amendment (constitutional principle of freedom of speech) can also be applied to speeches inciting hatred or discrimination, provided that they do not constitute an immediate danger to people or goods. [9]

"The FCC is not interested in influencing, or even knowing, the content or viewpoint of any programming", said former Chairman Hunt of the Federal Communications Commission [10] in his speech at a conference on Children and Television in 1997. However, in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, TV manufacturers are required to incorporate the V-chip in the sets, which is combined with a rating system made by the broadcasters (see under the headline "V-chip" below).

In Canada, there is a public worry about the massive influx of American programmes delivered via cable, which cannot be stopped from entering Canadian homes. In the USA broadcasters set the standards, and any government intervention to control violent contents is frowned upon. [11]


Several countries also have outright prohibitions on certain material in all media:

material containing incitement to hatred, discrimination or violence

obscene material

material contrary to sound morals and indecent material

material detrimental to human dignity

child pornography, either generally defined (obscenity, indecency, etc.) or specifically defined (child pornography, protection of children against sexual abuse, etc.).


When reading about a South African research study on children's emotional responses to television, which shows that half of the surveyed children are made unhappy and uncomfortable by children's programmes aimed specifically at them, [29] and about British research which establishes that programmes that provoke negative emotional responses are diverse and unpredictable, [30] I would like to argue for more empirical research on children's reception of media. There is a lot to learn for parents, teachers, broadcasters, media producers and distributors -- and for politicians.


Greece: Film is regulated by the Commission Responsible for the Supervision and Control of Publications Destined to Children and Adolescents, under the authority of the Minister of Justice: "Publications (...) must not contain any illustration, article, story, title or insert presenting in a favourable light banditry, lying, thievery, laziness, cowardice, hate, any criminal act, or act that demoralises children or juveniles (...) or inspires or instils ethnic prejudice." [33]


Portugal: The transmission of pornographic or obscene programmes or programmes which incite violence, the practice of crimes or whatever in a general way violates rights, liberties or fundamental guarantees is not permitted, according to the Television Law.


Spain: The classifications are recommendations but cannot be used to deny persons younger than the classified age to entry cinemas. X-rated films depicting pornography or extreme violence can be shown only in X-rated cinemas, where persons under the age of 18 are not allowed entry. The X classification is valid for video, as well. (Law 6/28, March 1995, prohibits the sale or rent to minors of video games and other audio-visual materials that contain messages contravening rights recognised in the Constitution or containing violence, delinquency or pornography.)[35]


Sweden: According to the Examination and Control of Films and Videos Act (SFS 1990:886), all films shall be examined and approved by Statens Biografbyra, the national Board of Film Classification, prior to exhibition. For videos intended for sale or hire, the advance examination is voluntary. The Board does not take any action on religious or political grounds. Its task is to judge whether films or sequences are liable to have a brutalising effect on the audience. The distribution of certain scenes of violence is a criminal offence under the law on freedom of expression.


Norway: The Norwegian Broadcasting Act is in accordance with the EU Television Directive. According to the Act relating to Films and Videos, 1987, films shown in cinema shall be classified by the Norwegian Board of Film Classification and must not violate public decency or have a brutalising or morally corruptive influence. Computer games including moving photographic images are covered by the Film and Video Act. [38] Regarding Cable transmissions, the Statens Medieforvaltning can ban the local distribution of emissions from other countries sent from Norwegian soil, which regularly show pornography or violence in defiance of Norwegian law. Pornography is defined as 'sexual depictions which are offensive or which could otherwise be perceived as being humanly degrading or debasing, including sexual depictions involving children, animals, violence, enforcement or sadism." [39]


Australia: The film/video (since 1984) and computer game (since 1994) industries are required to submit material to the OFLC, Office of Film and Literature Classification, for classification before they can be shown or sold." The ratings include Consumer Advice, which informs the public as to the rationale for a given rating. This consumer information is required by law to appear in advertisements for videos or films, and on the covers of video tapes for sale or rental. Rating categories are: G8 + for interactive electronic games suitable for children 8 years or older; M for media suitable for persons 15 years and over; MA for more advanced media content and titles with this classification may not be sold, rented or demonstrated to persons under 15 years of age. R -- restricted to persons 18 years or older -- is for films or other media and is not allowed for television broadcasting. [42]


Japan: The Broadcast Law of Japan regulates both the public service television and radio, NHK, and the commercial stations " ... to make broadcasting contribute to the development of healthy democracy". The law requires broadcasters to establish standards for programming and to set up broadcast programme consultative committees to ensure that programmes satisfy the stated standards. The NHK Standards of Domestic Broadcast Programmes from 1959 says in article 1. Section 6-3: 'Under no circumstances shall acts of violence be permitted."


Azerbaijan: The Penal Code 1982, article 228-1 (adopted 1996) says: "For public protection, the distribution of films promoting violence and cruelty is liable for a prison term of up to two years or a fine of the equivalent of 700-800 times minimum wage."


Belarus: The Law of the Republic of Belarus Concerning Media and Other Means of Public Information contains an article prohibiting the use of media for the presentation of pornography or anything else against any violation of morality, honour and dignity of the citizens. The Law Concerning Television and Radio currently under consideration contains certain regulations aimed at protecting the rights of young viewers and listeners.


Ukraine: The Ukrainian Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, 1993, Section V, article 4.1 states: "Programmes (films) that can damage the physical, psychological or moral development of minors are forbidden."



2. News and information broadcasts have of necessity to deal on a daily basis with social conflicts in which violence can be a part. The audience should not, and cannot, be protected from this everyday occurrence. Actual violence is acceptable in news programmes as broadcasters have a duty to show factual violence in the world, but the negativity of such acts should be stressed.

News should and will shock viewers at times. With some news stories a sense of shock is part of a full human understanding of what has happened, but care should be taken never to discomfort viewers gratuitously by over-indulgence. The more often viewers are shocked, the more it will take to shock them.

One person's shock is another person's news or art. Thus, a decision in this field means striking a balance between the current social consensus on what is acceptable and the broadcaster's duty to reflect reality as he or she sees it.

In particular, the human dignity of the victim as well as those also affected must not be offended and their personal rights must be respected. Violence in factual programmes should not be so prominent or commonplace as to become sanitized. The public cannot be shielded from the violence which happens daily in the world, but it must be portrayed in the most sensitive way possible.

The degree of violence in news programmes must be essential to the integrity of the programme; care should be taken in the choice of material depending on the time of day at which bulletins are broadcast.


Television drama must be able to reflect important issues truthfully, and violence is part of both nature and society. Drama on television involves the collaboration of many different skills and creative talents. In any collaboration there must be editorial judgement.

Since conflict and its associated violence are somewhat ingrained human traits, they are often made the central component in fictional and entertainment programmes. What is crucial is that the reasons for the existence of violence in the treatment should be portrayed in a plausible manner and violence should not be used in a purely unprovoked manner to entertain and as a way of maximizing the audience.

Gratuitous violence must be proscribed. The more intense the violence, the greater should be the distancing from reality. The aim should be how little violence is necessary without undue dramatic compromise.

The effects of portraying violence are heavily dependent on the form this presentation takes and the dramatic context. Particular care must therefore be taken with realistic presentations with which the viewer may more easily identify. Details of violence and aggressive behaviour which invite imitation should be avoided.

Portrayals which trivialize, or indeed glorify, the use of violence, whether physical or psychological, and which present violence as a means of overcoming conflicts, should also be avoided at all costs. It is important that in addition to the causes of violence their destructive consequences should also be shown, and that the use of violence as a way of solving problems should be portrayed critically. Not all violence is physical. Non-physical violence can also be upsetting and shocking, especially to children. This is an important area where particular care should be taken, as is the portrayal of sadistic violence.


Nations' different responses to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Ironically, the program itself was a morphin, with much of the action footage lifted from a long-running Japanese television program, Jyu Rangah. Reportedly, much of the original Japanese violence was toned down for the U.S. audience (Cody, 1994).

A number of countries that acquired the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (MMPR) series from the Los Angeles based Saban Entertainment in the 1990s, found that the program was not compatible with national regulations or cultural norms regarding televised violence. For example, in England, a mild public outcry ensued when a four-year-old was karate-style kicked by a playmate imitating the Power Rangers (Orvice, 1994). This led the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to issue a warning that the series was "extremely dangerous".

Other European nations responded to the MMPR with more severe action. In October, 1994, a young girl's brutal killing by teenage boys in Norway fueled public debate over the causes of violence in Scandinavian society. In response, MMPR was immediately taken off the air. The ban was temporary, however, and the program returned.

Earlier in 1994, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) pulled the MMPR off the air on the advice of the Broadcast Standards Authority, a statutory broadcast watchdog group ("TVNZ Dumps ... ", 1994). The Authority had reacted to complaints from a citizen advocacy group. Even though TVNZ had edited out some of the violent confrontations and the network had added pro-social public service announcements to the conclusion of each program, the Authority claimed that these changes were not enough.

Also in 1994, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), ruled that MMPR, estimated to be the most popular children's television show in Canada, was too violent for Canadian television (Lacey, 1994). The CBSC had been spurred to review the MMPR by the complaints from two Canadian parents. The CBSC unanimously agreed that the program contravened several articles of the industry's Voluntary Code Regarding Violence. As a result, a youth cable channel, YTV, canceled MMPR and the Montreal-based French TVA network dropped the series. Subsequently, Global Television, a commercial satellite network and part of Can West Global, requested permission from the program's producers, Saban International, to alter the program to conform to Canadian criteria (Farnsworth, 1994). After a year of editing the violent content, Can West dropped the series as well.

In January 1995, the Power Rangers came under attack from the German Society for the Protection of Children. The Society called for the program to be banned for excessive violence due primarily to complaints by German kindergarten teachers who charged that the program promoted child nightmares (Kindred, 1995).

Authorities in Malaysia banned the popular children's program in December 1995 in a dispute over its title. The Deputy Home Minister said that the title words "Mighty Morphin" may cause children to associate the characters with the drug morphine, leading them to believe that "the drug could make them strong like the characters in the show" ("Mighty Morphins ... ", 1995).

After reviewing three episodes of MMPR in 1995, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) stated that two episodes of the series contained scenes that did not comply with the general audience classification that was originally given the series (ABA, 1995). The network airing the series in Australia was allowed to continue to screen the Power Rangers during children's viewing time, as long as certain scenes were edited out.

In contrast to these national responses, U.S. reactions to the program were remarkably positive. In 1994, Parenting Magazine named MMPR as one of the ten best children's television programs on the air. In addition, newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, shook hands with the Power Rangers in 1994 and remarked that he was a Power Ranger ("Nightline ... ", 1995).


Finally, in their quest to develop a universally acceptable policy for children's television with teeth, and one devised to adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the designers of the Children's Television Charter may have another looming problem. This problem is analogous to the elephant in the parlor everyone strains to ignore. While the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely accepted human rights instrument ever, protecting the rights of approximately two billion children worldwide, it has not yet been ratified or acceded by the United Stares. As a result, the impact of the Children's Television Charter may turn out to be, as Janet Holmes a Court of the Australian Children's Television Foundation suggested at the World Summit in Melbourne, "the rest of the world against America -- not because we're anti-American, but because we are pro-Aboriginal, pro-Filipino, pro-Pole, and for the rest of the children in the world" (transcript from recordings made at the World Summit, 1995).

-- Children and Media Violence: Yearbook from the UNESCO International Clearinghouse on Children and Violence on the Screen, edited by Ulla Carlsson and Cecila von Felitzen
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