Worthy Christian News » Christian » Christian Media Expert Gives 'Two Thumbs Up' to Surgeon General's Report on Media Violence; Urges Pa
Christian Media Expert Gives 'Two Thumbs Up' to Surgeon General's Report on Media Violence; Urges Pa
By Dan Wooding
HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. (January 22, 2001) - Christian Film & Television Commission Chairman Dr. Ted Baehr has given "two thumbs up" to the U.S. Surgeon General's report that says that violent movies, TV programs and video games are harmful to children.
"Parents, churches, synagogues, and schools can no longer ignore the problem of media violence," Dr. Baehr said. "We must begin to teach our children how to avoid movies, programs and video games that are violent. We urgently need programs to educate children and teenagers to make wise choices in what they see. Parents, educators and religious officials need to throw their full support behind an educational program of media literacy and media wisdom."
Dr. Baehr and the Christian Film & Television Commission have designed a series of courses, workshops and seminars to do just that, based on Dr. Baehr's best-selling book, THE MEDIA-WISE FAMILY.
The report on youth violence from Surgeon General David Satcher found that repeated exposure to violent entertainment during early childhood causes more aggressive behavior throughout a child's life.
The report states, "Exposure to violent media plays an important causal role in this societal problem (of youth violence). From a public-health perspective, today's [media] consumption patterns are far from optimal. And, for many children they are clearly harmful."
Dr. Baehr said the new report gives a scientific and legal basis for how media violence influences children.
THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET
Dr. Ted Baehr, who is also founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE(R), a family magazine, radio program, TV show and family Internet site which reviews all movies from a biblical perspective, asserted, "The Surgeon General's report throws down the gauntlet to the entertainment industry in Hollywood and is going to be most definitive change in the way people view this industry. The last time that a Surgeon General made this kind of connection was between smoking and cancer, and we see what has happened to the tobacco companies and smokers after that."
Dr. Baehr said that, besides teaching media literacy and media wisdom, he hopes that the report on media violence will force the entertainment industry, including independent filmmakers, to be more careful in the kinds of violence it allows in its movies, TV programs and video games.
"The industry must stop denying the truth and take responsibility for what it produces," he added. "Otherwise, it will become subject to further legal action from victims of violent crime."
Baehr warned, however, that "warning labels" on products could make children and teenagers want to see material that is full of sex and violence.
"The trouble with these warning labels and rating systems is that they attract kids to the worst materials, according to a University of Wisconsin study. If you were a young boy with raging hormones and you see a warning on a box saying that it has sexual content, you would be attracted to that. They have made your job a lot easier. You don't have to look through 15,000 titles to find the one that has the content that you want. In many ways, research has shown that warning labels can be counter-productive.
"What you really need is responsibility both from the industry and also on behalf of the parents to help their kids understand why they shouldn't be curious about violent and salacious entertainment. The next step needs to be for the entertainment industry to be conciliatory and honest, and for schools and especially churches to wake up to the problem and teach children to be media wise."