Achieving a safe and violent-free environment can be fairly considered as one of mankind’s greatest dreams. Whenever law and order are implemented and felt, this equates to growth and progress. Once and for all, the reduction of crime and environment creates a conducive environment for individuals to live a healthy and progressive lifestyle. Worries and doubts that are highly related to self-preservation slowly diminish and thus, stress is hardly felt and is close to being non-existent. Many individuals are able to perform well in their respective tasks because they know that they are well-protected.
Different scholars and members of the academe often argued that the external environment plays an important role when it comes to the development of one’s attitude and behavioral patterns. Environmental influences are way too hard to resist. In one way or another, it will still have an effect on the concerned individuals. The impacts of the external environment may not immediately manifest, but frequent exposure, not to mention the fact that the trauma brought by hostile environments will be felt soon.
More often than not, crime perpetuators seem to have no hint of regret and remorse when they engaged into violent activities. It seems that committing heinous act such as murder, robbery, rape, etc. is something that is common and ordinary. The value of life is taken for granted and totally disregarded. This kind of orientation is acquired or developed since this is something that they always see in their community. Or if they are victimized, some criminals vindicate themselves through repeating the same crime to other individuals.Criminal behavior never fails to take the attention of many psychologists. There has been a great debate whether this value is something that is inherited or developed.
But then again, if one has to take a closer look on the studies and researches conducted, many came to the conclusion that environmental factors, indeed play an important role in shaping and molding criminal behavior. The constant exposure to violent situation affects the psychological aspects of many offenders. While it is true that the family can intervene and eventually stop this decadent cycle, there are other factors inside the house which reinforces and even encourage violence. This is no other else but mass media.Mass media is considered as yet one of the most influential institutions. The reason behind mass media is often described as the fourth estate (McQuail 52) is because of its ability to shape and mold opinions. The themes and concepts that are often presented in mass media play an important role in personality development.According to Richard Felson, observing crime and violence can be considered as a form of entertainment (103).
This kind of habit is not new to many. The truth of the matter is this has been already practiced since the ancient times. For example, the mere act of watching “street fights” continues to amuse and entertain many individuals (Felson 103).
Felson compared this particular act to the manner wherein Romans were greatly enticed and (relaxed) whenever they see gladiators fight. Despite of the fact that a person is injured or suffers an untimely death, blood and gore never seems to bring excitement that makes the audience or viewers beg for more. The demand for violent shows and other forms of media content tend to increase every year.
Wrestling shows, for example is very much popular, not only in the United States but also in other parts of the Arab region and Asia (Felson 103). Even in classic work of arts and literature, violent themes are always incorporated and to a certain extent—articulated (Felson 103).Trend discussed that crime and violence are popular “genres” in many television programs and news stories (50). These media contents tend to garner high ratings and approval. For media outfits which are also considered as business establishments, they must capitalize on these stories in order for them to gain profit and income that will help them sustain their corresponding operations cost.Cassel and Bernstein mentioned that it is estimated that 61% of television programs have a violent content (103).
In addition to that, 44% of crime perpetuators that are presented in the t.v possess attractive and pleasing personalities. In watching these shows, many do not actually have an idea that these characters are capable of committing violent and criminal acts. Moreover, since 43% of violent scenes are presented with humor and comedy (Cassel & Bernstein, 103), the chances that such events will be taken seriously gradually decline. It is also important to note that 75% of crime-related episodes are not immediately addressed and approximately 58% of these shows portray the absence of pain, the other 47% show that there is no harm done and the remaining 40% of violent crimes tend to be portrayed and presented in an exaggerated manner (Cassel & Bernstein 103).Amidst the prevalence of both crime and violence in different media channels, Cassel and Bernstein concluded that the situation resulted to a “copycat behavior” by many offenders (103). The two cited the example of two robbers who were caught in 1995 in New York.
The strategy and technique that were used in the incident were highly similar to the ones that are shown in the in the movie, “Money Train” which was reportedly seen by the said offenders (Cassel & Bernstein 103). Similarly, the scenes in the film “Natural Born Killers” was imitated by a 21-year old man which resulted to the death of an innocent individual (Cassel & Bernstein 103). Cassel and Bernstein also noted that mostly of the crime offenders admitted that through the shows and movies that they watch and consume, they have learned different kinds of “crime tricks (Cassel & Bernstein 103). Moreover, many violent perpetuators also disclosed that they committed violent acts simply because they imitated what they saw (Cassel & Bernstein 103).One of the most prevalent criminal acts that have been proliferating is rape. Almost every now and then, a woman is subject to derogatory social stigma because of what she has experienced. The rape victim carries the trauma for the rest of her life.
According to Prince, the existence of copycat behaviors is not new, rape occurrences are therefore not uncommon (278). The reason behind this is that different forms of media, such as film for example tend to encourage such heinous acts. More often than not, films tend to capitalize on rape scenes in order to garner the attention of the public. Rape scenes are also common in many television shows. Prince used the movie “Born Innocent” to have triggered the sexual desires of four teenagers who raped a nine-year old girl right after watching the said program (278).
However, pornography as presented in print media also brings excitement to some individuals (Real 98). If one has to take a closer look, the media tend to present rape scenes as something that women really enjoy. There are also instances wherein women are shown to actually encourage crime perpetuators to commit rape (Savino, Turvey & Baeza 269).Valdivia based on Hedonic Theory explained that individuals use to select scripts or events via their ability to produce pleasure or pain (448). As for the case of mass media, most especially in television, these communication channels are fond of making “trivializing unpleasant scenes (Valdivia 448). Given this situation at hand, many absorb and adopt this orientation and therefore, they reenact the scenes that they saw in real life. Jewkes and Letharby mentioned that rape reportage should not be taken negatively (125).
But issues arise with the “nature” of such coverage (Jewkes & Letharby 125).The problem with media functioning as “violence” channels can be attributed to the fact that it can easily affect children. Given this situation at hand, the behaviors that are shown by many crime scenes can be mimic by youngsters and they can carry these attitudes through adulthood. Children are at risk of being a criminal in the several years to come. Many youth or even adults per se tend to look for their “private heroes.
” Oftentimes the viewers or the audience tend to identify themselves with the personalities and celebrities that they see on screen (Kirsh 131). Because of admiration, these individuals unconsciously mimic the things that they see or hear in different mass media channels. In a study conducted in Israel, it is reported that children tend to suffer from bruises and injuries primarily because of imitating their favorite wrestling moves (Kirsh 131).Fisher and Lerner used the term “hostile bias” to describe the act of imitating violent media content (691). In this kind of situation, viewers who are frequently exposed to violent scenes, whether they are children or adult, are readily affected in terms of how they perceive or understand reality (Fisher & Lerner 691).
Imitation in this case is normal and the involved audience may not be able to thoroughly differentiate which actions or gestures are socially-acceptable or not (Fisher & Lerner 691). Basically, Fisher and Lerner’s notion of hostile bias is highly similar to the so-called “desentization (Lin & Thornburgh 119). Desentization is the event wherein individuals react to different kinds of stimuli. But then again, if the stimuli is consistently given to an individual, the viewers get used to it and he or she treats the scenarios as something that is common and ordinary (Lin & Thornburgh 119).Albert Bandura is one of the earliest psychologists that studied the relationship of mass media, violence and behavior.
According to Bandura, individuals learn through direct experiences and observation (Signorielli 17). As for the case of mass media, such institutions are able to provide events and scenarios that enable viewers to observe and therefore learn from different kinds of media content. In an experiment that Bandura and his group conducted, they placed children in a room and allowed them to watch an event wherein the protagonist abused and directed violent acts towards the bobo doll. Upon watching, the children were placed in another room wherein a bobo doll was placed. What happened was that the involved youngsters tend to imitate the things that they saw in the said show.Bandura maintained that modeling plays an important role in social learning (Signorielli 17) Through modeling, the viewers tend to establish norms and codes on how they should behave or react. Thus when they are confronted with the same situation or scenario, the imitation begins. But then again, the things or events that individual see in the television or the violent acts that are presented into it do not really happen in real lives (Signorielli 17).
But since the audience has already perceived that such happenings are already acceptable, many tend to elicit anti-social behavior and attitudes (Signorielli 17)The arguments of Albert Bandura and his colleagues is congruent with the contentions of the Cultivation Theory (Wood 306). This school of thought paces heavy emphasis on television, in particular. The Cultivation Theory purports that the media is highly capable of developing a “distorted picture” of reality (Wood 306). In addition to that, this theory also suggest that the television shows more violence than what is presented in statistics (Wood 306).
Therefore, when the individuals are overly exposed into this kind of medium content, their perception of reality becomes distorted as well (Wood 306).Mass media is often expected to disseminate information in order to inform the public and thus make them more aware of relevant and significant social events. However, the disheartening reality readily shows that different media expectations are not thoroughly met. Indeed, it cannot be denied that the very same institution that educates the public is also responsible for the violence that is experienced in various communities.
Works CitedCasell, Elaine and Douglas Bernstein. Criminal Behavior. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2007Fisher, Cecilia and Richard Lerner. Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science. California: Sage Publications, 2005Jewkes, Yvonne and Gayle Letherby. Criminology: A Reader. London: Sage Publications, 2002Felson, Richard.
“Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior.” Annual Review of Sociology 22 (1996): 103Kirsh, Steven. Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look at The Research. California: Sage Publications, 2006Lin, Herbert and Dick Thornburgh. Youth, Pornography, and the Internet.
Washington: The National Academes Press , 2002McQuail, Dennis. Media Accountability and Freedom of Publication. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003Parrott, Les. Helping the Struggling Adolescent.USA Zondervan, 2000Prince, Stephen Classical Film Violence.
USA: Rutgers University Press, 2000Real, Michael. Exploring Media Culture. London: Sage Publications, 1996Savino, John; Brent Turvey and John Baeza. Rape Investigation Handbook.
USA: Academic Press, 2005Signorielli, Nancy. Violence in the Media: A Reference Handbook. California:ABC-CLIO, 2005Trend, David. The Myth of Media Violence A Critical Introduction. USA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007Valdivia, Angela.
A Companion to Media Studies. USA: sBlackwell Publishing, 2003Wood, Julia. Communication Mosaics: An Introduction to the Field of Communication. USA: Thomson- Wadsworth, 2006