Media Violence and OSSTF: A Response
by Barry Duncan
March 6, 2007
In recent years, we have noticed that several teacher unions, e.g, OSSTF and FESSO have denounced the proliferation of media violence and its alleged effects on youth. With a coalition of over five groups, concrete action is now underway.
AML is pleased to be playing a major role in addressing educators’ concerns through applying the tools of media literacy. Let’s be clear about AML’s position: media literacy is not media bashing and protectionist. It should be regarded as an alternative to censorship.
The effects of media violence on youth is problematic and the research on the correlation with aggressive acts is conflicting. All we can say for certainty is that media violence may be a contributing factor but is ultimately less potent and harmful than the devastation brought about by poverty, unemployment, spousal abuse and gang machismo. Regrettably the recent editorials from OSSTF’s Update bulletin Jan 17, 2007 make media violence number one in the hit parade of media effects. Here is their incredible claim:
“Research has shown that the most effective action we can take to reduce aggression in schools today is to educate children on the destructive effects of violent videos, music and television programs. The research is steadily building a persuasive case for a direct link for the viewing of violence and the perpetration of aggressive acts.”
Even conservative researchers would not stand behind this assertion. Just think, if this were true, media lit would make your school safe and violence free, banishing Freddy Kruger, Super Mario and even cyberbullying. Oh Please! Is there a sassy pop culture sage out there who can mediate these arguments?
Finally, whatever we accomplish in creating curriculum will be helpful but surely modest in its goal of addressing such a horrendous cultural phenomenon of our time.