New Book Looks at How Media Violence Affects Society


A new book on kids and violence says it is merely following the work of 4,000 previous studies, all of which say that violence in entertainment media is causing greater violence in society.

WASHINGTON - A new book on kids and violence says it is merely following the work of 4,000 previous studies, all of which say that violence in entertainment media is causing greater violence in society.

Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill written by Dave Grossman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is liberally laced with references from dozens of those studies.

“TV is something we can do good research on, better research than linking smoking to cancer,” Grossman said in an interview prior to an Oct. 18 press conference to promote the book.

People have always had dark sides to them, but violent images in the media “definitely can feed the very worst in us,” he added.

At the press conference, he pointed to the young shooter in the school shootings in Paducah, Ky., which was the first in what turned out to be a wave of school shootings across the United States.

The shooter took aim at eight different people, firing one shot at each. He hit each target — five in the head, three in the upper torso.

“Never in the annals of military history or law enforcement can we find such an achievement,” Grossman claimed. The shooter, though, had played Doom, a video game also used by the military as a training exercise.

A $130 million lawsuit against the makers of Doom is pending, Grossman said. “This is an industry, gang, with a great big `sue me' sign on their forehead,” he added.

He said legislative solutions are being presented to deal with media violence.

One would have any point and shoot video game labeled as a “marksmanship training device” for sale to adults only. “We would not tolerate our children playing with a rape simulation device. Why should we tolerate them playing with a murder simulation device?” he asked.

Other approaches would be to tax any video game with a violence rating, and to permit those suffering losses from the murder or wounding of someone whose attacker had trained on a video game to seek redress from the manufacturer.

“Today we have almost 4,000 scholarly studies pinning the tail on the donkey,” Grossman said. He cited an American Psychological Association statement in May about the deleterious effects of TV violence: “To argue against it is like arguing against gravity.”

Grossman told CNS that the 1970s cop show Starsky and Hutch set one standard for violent behavior on TV. “Miami Vice cranked it up another notch. And NYPD Blue cranked it way UP,” he said.

Although Grossman, a psychology professor at West Point, knew about the harmful effects of violence, he didn't notice it when exposing his own children to what was on TV. “I inflicted these things on my kids” he said, “The same things I had inflicted on my kids I had inflicted on my soldiers—but without the safeguards.”

Grossman was also touting “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill — Open a Book Instead,” a program to get people out from in front of a video screen and in front of a book.

During the press conference, he said he had told a convention of independent bookstores that their enemy was not the huge chain bookstores but the entertainment industry, adding that if one-third of Americans stopped watching TV, “that would free up two billion hours of leisure time” each week.


“New Book Looks at How Media Violence Affects Society.” National Catholic Register. (Oct. 31, 1999).

Reprinted by permission of the National Catholic Register. To subscribe to the National Catholic Register call 1-800-421-3230.

Copyright © 1999 National Catholic Register

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