Why the unprecedented increase in violence among todays youth? Behavioral scientists have concluded that one of the main culprits is so-called entertainment, particularly the images brought into everyones living room courtesy of television. In times past, you had to be on the scene where the violence was perpetrated in order to personally witness it. Not now. By the time the average American child is 15 years old, he or she will have witnessed the violent destruction of more than 35,000 human beings on television, as well as 200,000 other brutal acts. Even in the "days of Noah," individuals were not subjected to the volume of violence that we are today.
"The impact of violent material is far more widespread than was previously thought," said Jackie Miller, the associations deputy secretary general. The survey found that 77 percent of secondary school teachers thought children were being "desensitized to violence," and choosing to glorify and mimic violent activity in the playground. Dr. Leonard D. Efron, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studied the habits of more than four hundred viewers for twenty-two years. He observes: "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." Arnold Kahn of the American Psychological Association adds, "The debate over the effects of violence on television is like the debate over cigarette smoking and cancer." To find out "how young people themselves feel about their rapidly changing world," Newsweek magazine and the Childrens Defense Fund commissioned a poll of 758 American children between the ages of 10 and 17. Newsweek summarized their findings:
What emerges is a portrait of a generation living in fear. Many had anxieties their parents could never have imagined: of guns, drugs, divorce, poverty. The interviews underscore how deeply violence, or the fear of it, permeates the lives of children, not just in inner cities, but also in small towns and suburbs across America.
Even in this violence-filled world, we dont have to live in fear. Scripture refers to Jesus as "the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6), who promises to all those who love and trust Him, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27, NKJV).
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