Wednesday, March 30, 2011
New research shows how violence spreads through society
Being exposed to violence, either watching it on TV, seeing it in the flesh or suffering it oneself is more likely to make children think it is normal and could lead to them behaving violently themselves. A team of researchers, led by Izaskun Orue from the University of Duesto in Spain, studied nearly 800 children aged between eight and twelve. They asked them if they had witnessed violence in their own lives or on TV and if they had been a victim of violence. They were also asked about their attitudes to violence by being asked whether they agreed with statements such as 'sometimes you have to hit others because they deserve it.' The children were asked about their own levels of violence and their classmates rated how violent they were. Six months later the children were surveyed again. The schoolchildren who had witnessed or been a victim of violence were more aggressive and observing violence at the first phase of the study was associated with increased aggression six months later. The increased aggression was caused in part by a change in how the children thought that violence was normal. Seeing violence -- at home, school, on TV, or as its victim -- made it seem common, normal, and acceptable and thinking that aggression was normal led to more of it.