Recent news stories have focused on the tremendous advances women have made in society. But there’s bad news too: The Parents Television Council reports that women and girls are victimized more often and more brutally in television programming than ever before. The PTC study, “Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend” reads, in part:
"Incidents of violence against women and teenage girls are increasing on television at rates that far exceed the overall increases in violence on television. Violence, irrespective of gender, on television increased only 2% from 2004 to 2009, while incidents of violence against women increased 120% during that same period."
The report also says, “Although female victims were primarily of adult age, collectively, there was a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims across all networks from 2004 to 2009.”
Parents Television Council president Tim Winter warns, “A wave of media violence is hitting the public like a tsunami. And according to the weight of medical experts, the effect is particularly devastating to children.”
Winter points to a wide body of evidence: “3,500 studies have looked at the relationship between media violence and violent behavior. Only 18 of those studies failed to find a relationship between the two. And of those 18, some were underwritten by the entertainment industry; and some were performed not by medical experts, but by economists.” (You can access the reports at www.ParentsTV.org.)
Watching senseless violence against anyone –whether male or female – degrades the observer and erodes our notions of civility and decency as a nation. If your family casually watches brutality and accepts it is as “entertaining”, then you are part of the problem.
What is the situation in your home? Are you allowing women and girls to be “virtually” beaten, raped and threatened in your family room? Are sex acts and violence taking place in front of a vulnerable audience of…..your own children?
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 68 percent of teens have televisions in their bedrooms, and that often their parents have no idea what they are watching.
Make it your job to always know what is “on” in your home, and be prepared to use your parental authority to just “turn it off” when you feel that the content is demeaning or just plain raunchy. For many parents, taking the first step can be awkward.