Thursday, 9 September 2010

Is violent media partly to blame for knife crime?

'The Dark Knight' (12A) - a film which caused controversy by its depiction of knives

At 6pm on 26th March 2010, during rush hour at Victoria Station in Central London, a gang of ten youths in school uniforms chased a fifteen year old boy in to the ticket hall and stabbed him to death. This was another shocking reminder of the knife crime that’s become increasingly prevalent amongst young people, and the desperate need for answers to this growing problem.  Of course variables such as social deprivation, the availability of weapons and family breakdown are all factors which are thought to have played a large part in contributing to the rise in knife crime amongst young people. However, there is also the suggestion that young people's consumption of violent media could be a contributory factor.

In 2008-2009 the government put together a report on Knife Crime which consulted professionals and practitioners from different fields to root out the causes for this dangerous trend. Safermedia was involved in pointing them towards evidence for the effects of violent media upon young people. Namely, to the research of Professor Kevin Browne - a child and forensic psychologist whose findings are cited in this report.  Below we have highlighted three of his key insights based on extensive research:

1. Media violence contributes around 10% towards any person's predisposition to be violent. It is not the only or the most powerful influence on individuals prone to violence, but a contributory factor. He argues that we could reduce violence by 10% by being more responsible in the way that we portray violence in the media.

2. The scientific lobby is very clear that media violence has short term effects upon children and adolescents.

3. Direct links have been proven between watching violent films and video games and using weapons, especially for those young people who come from a violent family background/environment.

For the full government report see:

1 comment:

  1. Is it enough to have age ratings and allow adults to decide for themselves what they watch?
    Or do we need blanket censorship and total bans?
    I believe we can balance protecting children from unsuitable content whilst allowing adults a degree of freedom over what they view.