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Sociology of Teenage violence and Role of mass media

The increasing trend in crime by teenagers is a matter of serious concern. The world over teenagers are involved in serious crimes a trend visible in most countries. Aggressiveness and violence at an early age have led to crimes over money or trivial issues. Many factors like urbanization, migration, breakdown of traditional values, inadequate attention given to children by parents and the influence of mass media especially films and television are said to be associated with the rise in crime among the young. The mass media especially television is increasingly occupying the central stage in our lives. Most homes in urban and now in rural areas have access to television and other forms of mass media like Internet. With provision of 24x7 telecast and many channels exposure to television is increasing and is particularly high among the children. Many concerned individuals and organizations have raised their voice against the adverse effects of television viewing and easy access to sex and violence.

It is commonly believed that such exposure to television is contributing to the violent behavior of the young. There is increasing evidences of association between screen violence and actual aggressive behavior emerging from the large number of studies in western developed societies. The research shows that the primary effect of television viewing is by way of imitation or emulation of the action or scene depicted on the screen. It is a common observation that children enact the advertisement and emulate some of the popular characters. In some of the sensational murders by teenagers, investigations pointed to the youngsters having been prompted by a film or television programme so much so that the manner and method of killing closely resembled the screen depiction. A heavy dose of onscreen violence and aggression causes fears and leads to desensitization among children. The onscreen violence often depicted as justifiable means to an end. Such depiction if continually shown tends to inculcate among the audience particularly children an increasing willingness to use violence in real life. The glamorous advertisements create an impression that others have access to easy life and unfulfilled advertisement stimulated desires lead to resentment towards parents and the society as a whole. This coupled with exposure to violence on screen further strengthens negative perceptions among children. With the increasing globalization of mass media the risk of excessive exposure of the young to television depicted sex and violence is on the increase.

Systematic efforts are required to be made to guide the children in their selection of television programmes. If parents share television watching with their children and discuss the contents they can guide in a subtle way the choice of programmes the children watch and influence the impact of television in the desired direction. There is also a need for self-regulation on the part of the television industry. They should exercise restraint and examine the television content from the perspective of growing children and the likely adverse effects of certain programmes. There is a need for media education in addition to formal education. A well-planned media education programme in the school curriculum can help in putting the contents of television in proper perspective by demystifying the glamour and action.