The Media's Influence On Teen Violence

2558 words - 10 pages

On April 20, 1999, two students walked into Columbine High School armed with shot guns and explosives. The incident ended in tragic results, as fifteen families will forever set one less plate out at the dinner table. March 24, 1998, an eleven year old and a fourteen year old walked into school with hand guns, killing four and injuring ten classmates (teen-violence.com). Thirty years ago, the biggest problem that kids at school were faced with was forgetting homework or being sent to the principal's office. There are many kids today who may fear that the person sitting next to them in class may have a loaded handgun in their book bag. On average one hundred and thirty five thousand weapons are brought into classrooms across the nation each day, and nine out of ten incidents are not reported (Malcolm 2). Did scenes of a student shooting his classmates in the movie The Basketball Diaries, for example, push a given child to walk into school and start shooting (Malcolm 2)? There are many questions regarding what influences teenagers today to commit such acts. Many people will blame parents, but many people cast the blame on to media and its many forms. Violence exhibited in television, movies, and video games is one of the key ingredients in the complex mix of factors that produces anti-social activity among the youth of today's society.

There is not one sole reason that explains why teenagers today are violent. The juvenile justice system may have some impact on the actions of teens. If a person is younger than sixteen years old, they may not be tried as an adult and will generally receive a maximum penalty of eighteen months in a juvenile detention center. One such case was documented by Janelle Rohr in Violence in America: Opposing Views: "These chronic offenders are the boys who start early, go on interrupted only by time spent locked up, and wind up in the adult criminal system" (146). The youth justice system was defined by the 1962 Family Court Act that was invented to deal with kids from the 1950's who only stole from the market or carried B.B. guns. It is powerless to the teens of today who commit random killings, robberies, and rapes. Research has also shown that kids who grow up in poverty or lower income levels are more likely to exhibit violent behavior. As more and more children are being raised in poor families, they suffer from the instability caused by their parents' lack of money. Janelle Rohr quotes a journalist for The Washington Spectator when she concludes that teenagers' violent behavior is an expression of frustration and an effort to take some of the wealth they are denied (14). This could mean robbing, raping, or even killing. It is mainly inner cities where these crimes occur. Rohr states that "Homicides take the lives of more children in the District of Columbia than any other type of injury, including car accidents, house fires, or drownings" (171). The attention that the teens get from committing crimes may be the...

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