Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Like Desensitized

Another troubling story about animalistic human behavior has surfaced. This one combines an adolescent crisis that began on My Space or Facebook and then had it's ugly conclusion videotaped for the purpose of You Tube. The holy trifecta of teen cyberspace here. It's another example of group pathology wherein one person gets pummeled by a horde of violent, self-righteous, voyeuristic, cold-blooded peers. Do they really think that taping this sociopathic scenario will bring them their 15 minutes of fame?

True the adolescent brain is a work in progress, but what's so troubling here is that this desensitization to violence and the accompanying lack of moral emotions is on the rise. It could be the quadrangle of video games, TV, movies and music, but does it really matter which affords the most long lasting influence. The result all comes to the same.
If you are interested, the studies are all there. Going back over the years, from the one at UCLA where two groups of kids were shown two different TV programs, one with and one without violence. Then, when sent in identical rooms to play for half an hour, the kids who watched calmer programming sat and played a board game. The kids who saw a violet program were all over the room. Their attention span was nil and they found particular enjoyment in pounding one of those inflatable pop right back up clowns. They were like boxers training. Is this all that surprising?
With this much exposure to violent role models, just factor in a few variables like diet and the nightly news from Iraq. The moral emotions, as psychologist Jerome Kagan refers to them, cease to exist.
What do organizations like the AMA, the American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and The Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology say:
The four health professional groups left no doubt about their feelings in the statement:
"Children who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts. Children exposed to violence are more likely to assume that acts of violence are acceptable behavior," it said.
"Viewing violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life. It can decrease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs."
"Viewing violence may lead to real-life violence. Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than children who are not so exposed."

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