Contact: Marjorie Heins, 212-807-6222 x 12
A group of media scholars asked the American Academy of Pediatrics today to reconsider its November 2001 Policy Statement on Media Violence because of its "many misstatements about social-science research on media effects." The scholars cited both the Policy Statement’s factual inaccuracies and its "overall distortions and failure to acknowledge many serious questions about the interpretation of media violence studies."
The AAP is one of a number of professional organizations that have claimed for years that studies have shown media violence to cause violent behavior. But, as the scholars’ letter says, "correlations between aggressive behavior and preference for violent entertainment do not demonstrate that one causes the other. Laboratory experiments that are designed to test causation rely on substitutes for aggression, some quite far-fetched. Punching Bobo dolls, pushing buzzers, and recognizing ‘aggressive words’ on a computer screen are all a far cry from real-world aggression." Researchers have also manipulated data to achieve "statistically significant" results.
This issue of scientific accuracy is important, the scholars say, because the "unending political crusades on this issue, abetted by professional organizations like AAP, have crowded out discussion of proven health dangers to kids, such as child abuse, child poverty, and family violence. This may make our politicians happy, but we should expect more of physicians."
The scholars signing the letter are: Professor Jib Fowles, University of Houston; Professor Henry Giroux, Pennsylvania State University; Professor Jeffrey Goldstein, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands; Professor Robert Horwitz, University of California – San Diego; Professor Henry Jenkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Professor Vivian Sobchack, University of California – Los Angeles; Michael Males, Justice Policy Institute, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice; and Richard Rhodes, Science Historian and Pulitzer Prize Laureate. The letter was also signed by Marjorie Heins, director of the Free Expression Policy Project at the National Coalition Against Censorship; Christopher Finan, director of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; and David Greene, director of the Oakland, California-based First Amendment Project.
To see a copy of the letter to the AAP click here
For more information contact:
Marjorie Heins, Project Director
Free Expression Policy Project
National Coalition Against Censorship