Child and adolescent violence is a growing problem in today's society
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Child and adolescent violence is a growing problem in today's society. Why do children become violent? Doctors and scientists have found that there are many causes for aggressive behavior in children and have developed ways of preventing children from becoming violent. These causes are biochemical, psychological, and sociological. It is important to learn the causes, the effects, and the treatments of violent behavior because it is such a growing problem in the modern world.
According to Kotulak, scientists have found that the chemical serotonin, which is found in our bodies, can control violent tendencies in humans (p. 65). They have also found that children with low serotonin levels turn out to have more violent and aggressive behavior than those children who have high serotonin levels ( p. 66). "Several studies suggest that threatening environments can trigger serotonin imbalances in genetically susceptible people, laying the biochemical foundation for a lifetime of violent behavior." (Cadillac, p. 65)
The way children learn to be violent is through imitation (Feldman, p. 207). In other words, they do what they see. Albert Bandura describes this imitation as Observational Learning in which a child watches an adult or another child perform an act and then the child tries to imitate that act him/herself (Feldman, p. 207). Feldman described an experiment in
which Bandura showed that because of observational learning, children will commit violent
acts after observing aggressive behavior by others (p. 207). "In what is now considered a classic experiment, young children saw a film of an adult wildly hitting a 5-foot-tall inflatable punching toy called a Bobo doll (Bandura, Ross, 1963a, 1963b)." Later the children were given the opportunity to play with the Bobo doll themselves, and sure enough, they displayed the same kind of behavior, in some cases mimicking the aggressive behavior almost identically (Feldman. p. 207).
The Bandura experiment gives a lot of credibility to the theory that children learn violent behavior from the television programs which they watch. According Feldman, "the average American child, between the ages of 5 and 15, is exposed to no fewer than 13,000 violent deaths on television; the number of fights and aggressive sequences that children view is still higher ( p. 208)." The following is a chart indicating the body count in six recent action films:
Violence in Movies: Recent Body Counts (Kendall, p. 96)
Film Body Count
Last Action Hero 27 dead
Terminator 2 57 dead
Total Recall 76 dead
Robocop 2 81 dead
Rambo III 106 dead
Die Hard II 264 dead
These statistics have been rising for years, but recently, children have been getting
exposure to these violent images from an entirely different medium. There are video games
out there in which players rip each others' heads from their bodies, or walk around shooting
pedestrians, as if shooting the "bad guys" was not enough. In a news conference concerning violence in video games, Senator Joe Lieberman referred to a game called "Postal," in which players score points for shooting people who are leaving a church and for "napalming a high school marching band" ( p. 1). The government has taken steps to keep this material out of the hands of children by placing ratings on these games, however, Internet access and lenient video game renters and retailers have allowed these games to remain available to children. The following chart indicates the types of video games kids in which children are most interested:
Children do not only have to "see" violent acts to imitate them, they can also "hear" them. More and more children have been listening to violent song lyrics. "‘Gangsta Rap' is a severe form of rap that advocates violence, exploitation of women, and hatred of the police"
(Kendall, p. 58). Many of these songs contain lyrics which actually encourage shooting people or beating people to solve problems. This music, like video games, is also given a warning label but children can still get their hands on it, whether it be through an ignorant sales person, an older friend or sibling, or even an uninformed parent.
Children also imitate the artists who create this type of music. Often times children see that their role models are being arrested for violent crimes, such as, assault and battery, or
connection with murder. In many cases the rap artists hold true to their lyrics that condone violence and they influence their young fans. Children see these rich,
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Crime, Dispute resolution, Social learning theory, Criminology, Behavior modification, Bobo doll experiment, School violence, Violence, Aggression, Albert Bandura, Gangsta rap, Gang
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