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I always read your Yello Dyno Memo tip to toe. There is no better e-zine out there for child safety. Yello Dyno covers the right topics in the right manner (thank-you for not dumbing down this e-zine) and is not afraid to tackle harder issues like violence in the media and in the games we allow our children to play. Your stuff is tough, factual, and fun - and we love it.
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So the idea is that if you turn off the TV, you save $60 a month or $720 a year and thousands over a lifetime - enough to fund a college education for your kids. Plus you easily have 8 hours a week to do something for yourself.

- Mac Forum Comment


Founder jan Wagner and Why Yello Dyno Protects Children From Child Predators
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The Recipe for Making Kids Into Killers
Part III: Do you think killing your teacher will solve your problem?

Introduction: As kids imitate the violence they see – in real life and on the screen – through imitative play, they are learning to identify themselves as perpetrators of violence from the very beginning of their lives.

Never before has a society on such a massive scale sat toddlers in front of harrowing brutality nor allowed their children and teens to use vicarious deviancy that fosters violence, mayhem, and murder as real-life amusement. Television shows, movies and video games – are they literally teaching our kids to kill?

Please stay with me through this Yello Dyno Memo (and upcoming Memos in this special series) as I share the research, real-life stories, and action steps to prevent tragedy.

My thanks to Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman and Gloria Degaetan for writing the book, Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, from which I have liberally quoted.


Series of Yello Dyno Memos
The Recipe for Making Kids Into Killers

Part I: Long-Term Exposure to Violence in the Media: Children are constantly learning that harming is fun, “natural,” and the “right” thing to do.

Part II: First Imitation, Then Identification: As kids imitate the violence they see – in real life and on the screen – through imitative play, they are learning to identify themselves as perpetrators of violence from the very beginning of their lives.

PART III: The Violence Formula: Three negative effects from exposure to screen violence.

Part IV: Violent Video Games: From long-term exposure to violence in the media, children are easy bait for the conditioning effects of violent video games. 


"By pre-school age, the child is inundated with tangible reinforcers of screen violence that many parents think are necessary for the child’s appropriate acceptance into the peer group."
- Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, Lt. Col. Grossman and G. DeGaetano

Part III: Do you think killing your teacher will solve your problem?

The Violence Formula and Three Negative Effects From Exposure to Screen Violence

Think back to the news coverage of 911. Over and over again we saw the towers crumbling. Since then, based on the violence formula, the media has had their hands full keeping us in “high alert.”

“The ‘violence formula’ assumes that the more graphic and gratuitous the violence, the more viewers will watch. It works fairly well until levels of violence in real life become comparable to what’s on the screen. Then the novelty wears. And the violence levels need to be increased.”
- Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, Lt. Col. Grossman and G. DeGaetano

In the myriad studies done over the last four decades, experts have found three basic negative effects from exposure to screen violence: increased aggression, increased fear, and desensitization to real-life and screen violence. Let’s take a look:

1. Increasing Aggression

The evidence was piling up as early as 1978. TV violence was making kids meaner and more aggressive. Yet, during this period, television networks refused to acknowledge the validity of the compelling body of research consisting of hundreds of studies. By 1982 there were over 2,500 studies. The media began paying lip service to the problem but profit overrode the price to our society and our children.

In 1981 the rate of real-life violence had risen to the level where it was finally being identified as a public health issue. Dr. Brandon Centerwall, M.D. was asked to help start the Violence Research Program at the National Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. A central issue confronting the research was the doubling of the murder rate since the 1950’s. The rate having doubled was indisputable. The question was why?

Dr. Centerwall approached it as a question of epidemiology. Media violence was just one of the categories included in his research. He didn't expect it would play much of a role. His method and the jaw dropping nature of his indictment of television violence blew the roof off the subject. The findings revealed that if “television technology had never been developed, there would today be 10,000 fewer murders each year in the US, 70,000 fewer rapes, and 700,000 fewer injurious assaults.”- Television and Violence: The Scale of the problem and Where to Go from Here, The Journal of the American Association, vol. 267 (June 10,1992), 3059-3063

If the study had told us that 10,000 people per year were dying from an infectious disease, it would have made the evening headline news. Alas, almost nobody in this country has heard of Dr. Centerwall or his findings on violence in the media.

Dr. Centerwall at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University pointed out, “…The social and behavioral sciences have empirically identified a problem and offered a solution (however difficult): the reduction of harmful portrayals. If the problem is those…harmful effects, then labeling content for the V-chip exorcism will succeed only if all households comply. And if they do so, then there would be no need for the V-chip because the incentives to produce such content would be absent. The industry has substituted appearance for substance.”

2. Desensitizing Us

In the mid 80’s my 90 year old grandmother wanted to "step out," so I tookher to see Raiders of the Lost Arc on the big screen. I think she stayed for the whole movie because she was too scared to move. Pretty dumb on my part? Yes. Her last movie was probably Gone With The Wind. I, on the other hand, had progressed along with my peers on the violence formula. She certainly had not.

Just take a look at the brutality in shows today. The TV series 24 is top of the charts and it has the highest violence factor of any series, SO FAR. In 24, the viewers side with Jack, the action hero. Jack had to take out those men to prevent a nuclear explosion, we tell ourselves. By viewing such shows we are becoming callous toward brutality and are taking on a “so what?” attitude. Consequently, we justify the violence. We see images of violence as 'cool’ which serves to reinforce deviant attitudes and results in less empathy, compassion, and understanding for human suffering.

What is occurring? Our definition of what is socially acceptable, even normal, is altering according to our level of desensitization. It is now acceptable for screen violence to invite the viewer to enjoy the feel of beating, mutilating and killing.

It’s interesting to note that the adolescents who committed horrendous crimes in Jonesboro, Paducah, and Littleton, were waned on G.I. Joe and She-Ra – cartoons averaging twenty-five acts of violence per hour.

3. Increasing Fear

The third symptom of violence as entertainment is increased fear in our society. A constant diet of violent portrayals can make people more distrusting and exaggerate the threats of violence that really do exist. Nightmares and long episodes of anxious behavior are common for young children exposed to violence on TV or in a film.

Research on trauma suggests that all it takes is one terrifying experience, especially for children, to form a lifelong memory, one that it is difficult to erase. Some 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety-based disorder. Is exaggerated, irrational fear some part of the modern condition? Stephen Hall, in an article in the NY Times magazine, points out: “It may be one of the paradoxes of our age that we’ve created entire economies around activating this fear system under safe conditions in the form of theme-park rides and Stephen King novels and films that have us on the edge of our seats.” Plus the toy manufacturers develop thirty-minute cartoon “commercials”, even movies, for their action hero products.

I'll get to the role video games play in part IV of this series but you might like to take a sneak preview by checking out my latest blog entry on Manhunt 2: Lessons On How To Become a Sociopath.

Let's take a look at our children's role models on TV and how they handle problems through these thought-provoking stats from the National Television Study:

• Nearly 40% of the violent incidents on television are initiated by characters who possess qualities that make them attractive role models.

• One-third of violent programs feature “bad” characters who are never punished.

• More than half of the violent incidents feature physical aggression that would be lethal or incapacitating if it were to occur in real life.

• At least 40 percent of the violent scenes on television include humor.

• 60 percent (up 3 percent from the 1996 results) of television programs contain violence and more than 60 percent of the violent incidents involve repeated behavioral acts of aggression.

•  Youngsters who watch two hours of cartoons each day are exposed to five hundred high-risk portrayals of violence per year that teach aggressive behaviors.

• TV ratings tend to attract many children to very violent, inappropriate programs by alerting kids to their existence.

"By the teen years, how do we then take back the cumulative impact of applauding violent behavior as a normal problem-solving technique, natural tendency, and acceptable social norm? No, we didn’t really mean for you to take us seriously. It’s all just in fun. No one takes those wrestlers seriously. You must know Bruce Willis didn’t mean it’s okay to hurt someone else. Do you think killing your teacher will solve your problem? You can’t be serious, can you?”
- Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill, Lt. Col. Grossman and G. DeGaetano

What are we teaching our children along with reading, writing, and arithmetic? The answer is simple: violence, mayhem, and murder.

As the adult in children’s lives, WE CHOOSE what children are learning. WE DECIDE for our children what television shows, movies and video games are O.K. CHOOSE to pass on this series of Yello Dyno Memos to your friends, colleagues and the parents of children you teach. Together we will make a difference.

Stay tuned for Part IV.

Yours for child safety,

Jan Wagner
Yello Dyno Founder

P.S. I will provide updates about this topic in my Yello Dyno blog, Around Jan's Kitchen Table, and I encourage all of you to continue sharing information and commentary on this and other important topics about the safety of our children. Bookmark Yello Dyno's web page SEX OFFENDERS - we will keep it up to date with articles, laws and links on this topic.

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