NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Violent Children Mimicking Life, Not Art

October 5, 1999

A child's personal experiences of violence are more likely to generate violence on his part than the violence he sees on television, concludes a study by Case Western Reserve University researcher Mark Singer. In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, Singer said that television viewing habits don't promote aggressive behavior nearly as much as frequent exposure to real violence and parents' failure to monitor their children's activities.

  • In the survey of 2,245 third- to eighth-graders, Singer found "disturbingly high" levels of violence among the youngsters, who were raised in working-class to upper- middle-class homes.
  • More than two out of five boys said they had been slapped, hit or punched at home or school in the past year -- and about one in three girls reported such attacks.
  • Half to three-quarters of children said they had been witness to beatings in school in the past year.
  • Witnessing or being the target of violence correlated strongly with a child behaving violently toward others, Singer found.

The second most important factor in generating violent behavior was a lack of parental monitoring. The more closely children said they were monitored, the less likely they were to report slapping, hitting or beating up others.

Source: Marilyn Elias, "Kids Repeat Violence Seen in Life, Not on TV," USA Today, October 5, 1999.


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