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Media Violence invading your HOME?
Turn it OFF

For too many people, violence is an ordinary way to be entertained, settle arguments, or blow off steam.

Violence results when many different forces come together, and we know that exposure to violence in the media can be one of those forces. American children spend more time each week watching television than in any other activity except sleeping. But violence isn't limited to TV - it can be found in music, video games, newspapers, comic books, radio broadcasts, magazines, and movies.

Exposing children to violence can make them less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, more fearful of the world around them, and more willing to act aggressively. Fortunately, most media violence can be turned off.

Look At What You're Watching

Take a hard look at what you and your family watch on TV - "action" movies, talk shows, sitcoms, cop shows, and even news programs.

What values are they teaching? Are the characters racist, sexist, or stereotypes? Do they make violence appear exciting or humorous or macho? Do they solve real-life problems without violence? Do the programs teach skills or convey unique, valuable, interesting information?

Technology Can Help

Hi-tech tools can help parents monitor what their children are watching. The newest device being developed is the V-chip, which allows the TV to be programmed to block shows that are rated high in violence, sex, or other material not suited for young viewers. Many cable companies already offer parents the option of "locking out" channels they don't want their children to see. This is done through scrambling channels, (parents can access with a key, blocking out specific cable channels on request, or using programmable remote controls which can be overridden with a personal identification number.

However, nothing can take the place of parents when it comes to monitoring children's TV habits.

Use TV's Incredible Potential To Educate

Ask teachers what they will be covering in the upcoming school year. Look for TV specials and videos on the topics. Talk to teachers or school librarians about videos that enrich your child's studies in school.

Use everyday viewing to tie into your children's school lessons. Ask them questions as they watch TV. Does today's news have something in common with what's being studied in history class? How is a television program different than a book on the same subject? How do television producers get their messages across compared to writers and artists?

Use TV to encourage your children to read. Sometimes a child will get excited about something they viewed on TV. Follow up that excitement by taking them to the library to check out books on the same subject.

If your child has a particular interest or hobby, tape shows that relate to it. A budding ballerina may enjoy watching a professional dance group perform or a child who collects and plays with dinosaurs may enjoy a movie on how dinosaurs became extinct.

Take Action

Turn off violent television, radio, and movies that you think send dangerous messages to children about violence and its victims. Tell radio and television stations and movie theaters about your decision through calls and letters. Also use calls and letters to thank the media when they show programming that portrays positive, non-violent ways of solving problems. Encourage the media to provide more family-related programming and show positive actions by people to improve the community.

Contact your local school to see if it has a mediation or conflict resolution program. If not, help start one. You can get information, training, and materials from colleges, community or neighborhood dispute resolution centers, or national organizations that focus on dispute resolution.

Make one night a month a family night. Why not go to dinner, go for a walk, take in a nonviolent movie, play board or card games? Play volleyball, ping pong, or a game of catch, go to the library, read aloud, or go through old family photos and slides? Ask everyone in the family for suggestions.

Don't buy products whose advertisements glorify physical or verbal violence. Write the manufacturer to express your concern. Check product packages or call your local library for addresses.

Work with a local church, business, or civic group to sponsor a violent toy turn-in drive. Ask a local business to donate gift certificates good for a nonviolent toy, a book, or sports equipment.

* Made available by The National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign, sponsored by the Crime Prevention Coalition


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