Survey: Hollywood violence can scar children

Most children witness two murders a day.This is one of the results of a survey conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which estimates most American children, will witness as many as 16,000 murders via television and movies by the time they are 18. This frightening statistic is why families need to take care with the filmed entertainment they consume, according to family expert Teri Haux, author of "Movie Viewer Extraordinaire: Discerning the Influences of Movies on Your Freedom, Family and Happiness," from Booksurge. (www.movieviewerextra.com). "Consuming graphic violence for fun devalues all life, including our own," Haux explains. "Watching excessive graphic violence and gore, like exploding body parts, torture and wonton murder for entertainment has two main destructive results. The first is a person, particularly youth, may become afraid of death and dying. This powerful fear short circuits a person's response when faced with actual traumatic experiences. In other words, they are more likely to become a helpless victim, versus a strong person who is able to defend themselves. The other likely result is they may become more violent, viewing violence as a way to resolve any conflict." The study also concluded that: •Sexual content appears in 64% of all TV programs, averaging 4.4 scenes per hour •44% of kids say they watch different movies when they are alone than with their parents •60% of teens state they acquire their information regarding sex and sexual health from TV and movies, as opposed to a healthcare provider or family member While it's easy to rationalize, "They're just movies," Haux believes the entertainment culture of the United States has become a more significant influencer of attitudes than most people think. "During a friendly debate with a university professor regarding the importance of making moral judgment calls on the media we consume, my friend declared 'all life stories are valid,'" Haux says. "I responded with 'the truth is movies often tell lies.' She looked at me funny, but would not be swayed in her opinion that all movies are good. This shows how powerful the movie experience can be, even though we know it is just a movie. The emotions we feel are the same as if the drama on screen was actually unfolding in our lives off screen. Movies feel real, especially well made ones." Conversely, Haux believes not every violent movie is bad. "The silver lining is in movies which inspire us to be better people and stand up to fight for our freedom, families and lives," she says. "Any John Wayne movie is a good example. Movies like 'High Noon' or 'Gettysburg' which show incredible examples to emulate, without excessive graphic violence can be some of the most cathartic and awesome cinematic experiences leaving us wanting to be better people." One piece of anecdotal evidence to support her opinion was the story of her friend, who is a head nurse in an intensive care unit. "Excessive violence in media is causing an irrational fear of death as a natural process in life." Haux states "An ICU nurse lamented to me recently how more and more people are afraid of being close to family members while they're dying. Increasingly she has to help people show love during the last few moments of a loved one's life. So, what's wrong with this picture?" Haux's primary viewpoint, however, is that movies have an impact on our decision-making capacities. "Life is made up of thousands of moments where we can choose to act in a positive or destructive way," she said. "Movies are a significant component in preprogramming our responses with examples to follow. It is critical to our freedom, families and happiness that we carefully choose the media which we allow to enter our lives, because it is not just two hours of mindless entertainment." Teri Haux has been a screenwriter for nearly a decade. Her scripts have been optioned for production and she has placed as a finalist in the Scriptapalooza and the Bluecat Screenwriting screenplay competitions.

********** Published: May 29, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 6