Insert Your Name
Date Assignment is due
The Alleged Gunmen
What drives a man, woman or child to take an innocent life? Why is violence continuously increasing in our society? What effects does the rampant public violence have on both the social and mental behavior of those who witness these actions? Data presented by WHO on rates of violence per 100,000 people aged less than 29 years in Latin America in 2000 raise an alarm (Ono & Pumariega, 2008) in this issue. In fact violence has become an issue in public health (Ono & Pumariega, 2008).
According to Eagle et al (2002), media has contributed greatly to this situation whereas although Osofsky (1998) supports Eagle’s argument, he insists on the parental guidance to media and children. Xue et al (2009) research shows that there exists a strong relationship between abuse of drugs, particularly alcohol, and violent behavior while Allwood and Bell (2008) found that there is a positive correlation between violent exposure and violent behaviors in the society. According to Andershed et al (2001) investigations, aggressive acts in the public streets are a reflection of the bullying pattern in schools (as cited in Xue et al, 2009). In particular Andershed et al (2001) noted that the adolescent exposure to violence is the ultimate cause of public violence (cited in Xue et al, 2009).
Violence has various impacts on the society. Although several studies and research on the impact of violence to the society have been conducted, little attention has been put on the relationship between effects of violence and the growth of violence in the society. This research paper attempts to justify the reciprocating effects of violence by stating a thesis: effects of violence are the major cause of violence growth in the society. In this paper, causes of violent behaviors among the youth and children will be discussed, review of various research on the subject will be done, mental and social effects of violence exposure to both the children and adolescent will be discussed and the ways to prevent and control violence in the society will be finally highlighted.
As commentators have presumed, a casual direct link exists between media exposure to violence and the increasing aggressive behaviors in the society (Eagle et al, 2002). According to Gentile (2003), the level of violence has greatly risen since the advent of television. However, Gentile’s (2003) study contradicted that the increasing content of the violence in the media, particularly television, is as a result of the real life violence in the society. As Eagle (2002) notes, the detailed coverage of high volumes of violent acts by the media is the major cause of violent behaviors in the society.
Although very few people are likely to admit it, Gentile’s (2003) test on the effect of media towards attitude proved that human behaviors are profoundly affected by media. According to Elwood and McKnight (2002) attitude is the mental perspective on general life. It is clear that whatever alters people’s attitude, including media, affects the mind (Elwood & McKnight, 2002). The detailed broadcast of the public violence has reciprocating effects to our society, especially the children (Eagle et al, 2002). The violent broadcasts have shaped the minds of children to grow with the notion that the world is violent; and indeed violent people are the powerful (Eagle, 2002). Psychologically, the child’s attitude on life has been violently corrupted (Elwood & McKnight, 2002). The action movies watched by these children in the name of entertainment offer very ‘immoral’ lessons to them (Eagle, 2002). As Gentile (2003) notes, violence has been categorized as form of entertainment. Gentile (2003) illustrates his argument in an interesting example of the Romans and Christians. Although these movies may contain insight lessons, Gentile (2003) questions the conspicuity given to violence in these movies. Interestingly, violence is a character of victor. This is a living fact from Machete, Kick Ass, and Titanic Clash among others. The child’s mind has been influenced to believe that violence is power and the means to victory (Gentiles, 2003). As a result they practice the same in their process of growth. This has been manifested by the increasing bullying and fights in schools and institutions of learning (Grogger, 1994).
Abuse of drugs is another driving force for increase in public violence among the youth (Xue et al, 2009). In his research Xue et al (2009) established that drug abuse, particularly alcohol has a direct connection with violent behaviors within our society. The drunkards are likely to cause fights over little disagreements. A research by US Research society (1997) confirms that alcoholism precedes violence. Studies on alcoholism show that a drunkard suffers mental instability. It is also found that such people will confront their ‘enemies’ violently. In fact their acts are uncontrollable (US Research, 1997) and can resort into fights at any place. Cases of assault and family violence are a result of alcoholism with women and children the most victims (US Research society, 1997).
A review by Xue et al (2009) indicates that youth are involved in violence while under the influence of drugs, mostly alcohol. In a US nationwide survey, out of 36% violent acts among students, more than 19% were as a result of drug abuse (as cited in Xue et al, 2009). Persons under drug influence can handle dangerous weapon confidently, since their mental functioning is ‘enslaved’ to believe in whatever is likely to happen. Is there any reason why such people should not commit a cold blood murder? It is obviously NO. The mind is the driver of the actions we commit in our lives. If the mind is enslaved by the influence of any drug then, bad or good to it is OK-to them, including murder. The mental impact of those who commit murder under such conditions is self denial and subsequent behaviors of such people are marred by violent acts.
According to Miller (1999), increasing number of weapons’ possession is another reason for increase in assassination in the society. This has spread even to unexpected circumstances such as schools (Miller, 1999). The shootings in our schools raise questions about weapons’ possession. A living example of school shooting is that of Columbine School of 1999. As Miller (1999) speculates, this was an indication of widespread illegal possession of weapons. Why would a common civilian own a gun anyway? Guns and other weapons are purposely for war. They are not common tools to be handled by anybody. However, the case has been different. The argument here is that continued interaction with dangerous weapons among the common citizens has changed the ways of solving problems. Guns have been embraced as tools to solve unfaithfulness among couples and disputes among politicians and nations. And this trend has grown from national to the individual level. The culture of guns as a solution to problems to human beings has therefore enhanced the growing trend in public killings and assassinations.
Exposure to violence has been found to propagate the growing culture of violence in the today’s society (Allwood & Bell, 2008). Children are exposed to family violence at early age in life (Allwood & Bell, 2008). According to Elwood and McKnight (2002), this affects the attitude of the child to grow in negative notion; life is violent. This violence may be either attack to the child or witness from the family wrangles. Psychologists have found that children exposed to violent conditions at their early ages grow to become violent. Such people are said to form stereotypes in life in which they discriminate against those perceived to be of ‘low class’. It has been found that in order to maintain the standard of their class these people grow violent behaviors towards those who do not belong to their class to avoid their intrusion. People with such behavior therefore have the drive to execute open murders to their enemies.
In the preceding discussion, violence’s driving forces have been discussed. It can be deduced that violence reciprocates within the society and its effects are a cycle. It is indeed true to note that the mental effects of violence are the subsequent cause of violence. The question at hand now is how the reciprocating behavior of violence can be stopped. As Gentile (2003) recommends parents and guardians own a greater stake for success of this subject. U.S Research Society (1997) and Xue et al (2009) call for control of alcoholism among the youth. Eagle et al (2002) recommended for review of the children programs in the media. This essay has a view that none of the solutions can solely sort the mystery of violence in our society.
According to Gentile (2003), parents’ role in child’s growth of should be stepped up. It is the role of the parents to decide on the media content the child should consume. In this regard, the parent should ensure violence related programs and videos are out of reach of these children. In this way the propensity of growth to aggression of the child will be reduced (Eagle et al, 2002). The focus of the children will be drifted away from violent acts and their attitude to life will be different (Elwood & McKnight, 2002). The parents’ should ensure domestic violence in the families is a thing of the past if at all violence is to be reduced.
As indicated, alcoholism is a common drug which has been abused by many people in the society (US Research Society, 1997). And since there is a direct relationship between alcohol and violence (US Research Society, 1997), there is a critical need to control its consumption, especially among the youth. Parents and guardians should be at the forefront to ensure their children do not engage in this behavior at premature age in life (US Research Society, 1997). Xue et al (2002) indicates that there is need for policy makers to develop policies and programs aimed at reducing consumption of alcohol in the society. Descriptive regulations on who, where and when to drink alcohol should be reinforced (Xue et al, 2002 & US Research Society, 1997). Finally the state should involve the youth with more productive activities to reduce time expended in drinking.
Media has always received pointing fingers for the growth of violence (Eagle et al, 2002). The government should introduce policies to regulate some of the content broadcasted over the media. Eagle et al (2002) reviewed that such regulations have been successful in the Government of New Zealand.
Finally the spread of weapons, specifically guns, among the civilians should be curbed (Miller, 1999). In fact the state should carry out a comprehensive audit on the citizens in order to have cognitive information about those who possess weapons in the society. In this way, the government will be able to censure the use of these weapons and the increasing murder cases in domestic and street disagreement will definitely reduce.
The continued exposure of children and the youth is the reason for growth of violence. Media is the notorious propagator of violence acts in the society, complemented with other factors such as alcoholism, possession of weapons, lack of maximum parental attention to children and effects of violent environment.
Exposure to violence affects the mind of the children and changes their attitudes about life. Power and victory are lessons learnt from violent movies by children. This has motivated children to engage in aggressive behaviors as a sign of power and victory.
It is imperative to understand that violent acts like political assassinations and increased live shooting in schools are results of effects of violence. As discussed, those who are involved in these acts practice what has been imparted in their psychology, either by direct experience or witness. The interesting point to note about violence is that at the instance of executing the effects of violence more effects are created to minds of other people, particularly children, who might practice it in future. This is known as the reciprocation of violence. Hence it is justifiable to conclude that effects of violence are the major causes of violence growth in the society.
Allwood, M. & Bell, J. (2008). A Preliminary Examination of Emotional and Cognitive Mediators in the Relations between Violence Exposure and Violent Behaviors in Youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 36(8), 989–1007.
Eagle, L., Bruin, A. & Bulmer, S. (2002).Violence, Values, and the electronic Media Environment. An International Journal, 7(1). 25-33.
Grogger, J. (1997). Local Violence and Educational Attainment. The Journal of Human Resources, 32(4), pg 659-683.
Ono, Y, & Pumariega, A. (2008). Violence in youth. International Review of Psychiatry, 20(3): 305–316
Elwood, C & McKnight, W. (2002). Attitude: Your Most Priceless Possession, Cengage Learning.
Gentile, D. (2003). Media Violence and Children: A complete Guide for Parents and Professionals, Greenwood Publishing Group.
Miller, M. (1999). Coping with Weapons and Violence in School and on your Streets, Rosen Publishing.
Osofsky, D. (1998). Children in Violent Society, Guildford Press.
U.S. Research Society on Alcoholism (1997). Alcohol and Violence: Epidemiology, Neurobiology, Psychology, Family Issues. Springer Publishers.
Xue, Y., Zimmerman, M. & Cunningham, R. (2009). Relationship between Alcohol Use and Violent Behavior among Urban African American Youths From Adolescence to Emerging Adulthood: A Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Public Health, 99(11), 2041-2050.