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TV Violence—When Push Comes to Shoot…

By now I’m sure you, the thousands of parents who come to the Parents Television Council website, have read the report or at least the summary on the dramatic increase in television violence. And I’m sure you’re not surprised. But before you think there’s nothing you can do to turn this tide of events, perhaps take a few minutes to watch the C-Span video which is also available on the PTC website.

“Perhaps we are...getting to the point where push has come to shove, & shove has led to shooting.”

If you missed this live presentation where Tim Winter, President of the PTC, presented the report to the press who were in attendance, it's worth watching to hear the medical professionals and FCC commissioner Michael J. Copps share their testimonies that confirm the PTC is hardly a lone voice on this matter.

Even the press -- or at least those who showed up -- seemed receptive, although one reporter couldn't resist using the favorite word, "ban," in a question to Mr. Winter. ("Are you calling for a ban ... on violence?" It's the favored statement for getting the public riled up.)

Yet, it's an unfortunate truth that the dust is already settling since this report was released, and the efforts and expenditures made to create it risk not being utilized to their full potential. And that's where the "P" in the "PTC" comes into play.

After watching the video, send the full report (which is easily and quickly downloadable at this link: http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/publications/reports/violencestudy/exsummary.asp) to some close friends. No, I'm not advocating junk email. I'm merely suggesting you take the time to share the information as you would any other news story you felt held significance.

Or, you can use your Adobe Acrobat reader to open the report on your computer and print a copy to hand off to another interested person.

Taking the time to share this information will bring this issue to the forefront of many more people who may not even be aware of the Parent Television Council's efforts. And take the opportunity to tell them more about the PTC when you introduce the report on television violence.

In my experience I find people, in general, have a far easier time agreeing that violence in media is a big concern versus sexual content or profane language. Few people can argue that it's good to let a seven-year-old stare at hundreds of murders and beatings. And I know from experience that most of those seven-year-olds are still wandering around the house at 8 PM... supposedly looking for that last drink of water. With the abandonment of family hour and syndicated programs showing up at any time of the day, violent television is hardly an exclusive element of late night television.

During the presentation, a question was asked about violent television in other countries. While I can hardly claim to have watched typical television programs from every country in the world, my casual observation leads me to believe that North America is the most fixated on violent content. However, just a few days ago, a similar response to the blood and gore was issued in Canada.

In a country that tolerated having The Sapranos run in their un-cut original HBO version on public network airwaves over the past couple of years, I was amazed -- and delighted -- to see a story on the news wires earlier this week.

Professor Peter Jaffe of the University of Western Ontario compared media violence to the large and graphic warnings found on cigarette packages in Canada.

"Where are the warnings on the many forms of media violence readily accessible by children? Tiny ratings stickers just don't cut it any more," said Jaffe at a news conference on January 17, 2007.

Joined by teachers and parent organizations, the groups called on the Canadian government to help enact changes that would prevent the broadcast of violent television before 9 PM and would also limit radio stations from airing music with violent lyrics prior to 9 PM.

With thousands of new flat screen televisions flying off the shelves of retailers in North America, I can't help but wonder what's left on television for a family to watch? Perhaps we are finally getting to the point where push has come to shove, and shove has led to shootings -- thousands of them on prime time -- and parents are ready to say they have it with television and media violence.

The silver lining to this dark cloud may be finding a common cause that every parent truly should be concerned about.

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