STANFORD STUDY: LESS TV = LESS VIOLENCE
you like to have a 40% reduction in violent behavior in YOUR
many kids were killed or injured in school fires in the US
in the last 5 years? Answer: Zero. Yet we do fire drills and
have alarms and sprinklers for something that is only an infinitely
many kids were killed or injured in school shootings in the
in the last 5 years? Answer: In 1998 alone, according to the
US Secret Service, there were 35 murders, and almost a quarter-of-a-million
American children "seriously injured" by school violence.
possibility of your child being killed or injured by school violence
small, but it is thousands of times more likely than the possibility
school fire, and we have the moral obligation to do at LEAST as
much prep for a shooting as for a fire.
what can we do to reduce school violence?
Convince kids to turn off the TV!
July, 2000, a joint statement was made to the US Congress by the
AMA, the APA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. What they said was:
"Well over 1,000 studies point overwhelmingly to a causal
connection between media violence and aggressive behavior in some
all of our doctors, psychologists, pediatricians and child
psychiatrists telling the US Congress that media violence causes
violence in children. Over a 1,000 studies have demonstrated that
if you put media violence in a child's life, you will get an increase
in violent behavior. So far, though, no one has demonstrated the
reverse: If we take media violence out of a child's life, will
violent behavior go down?
Stanford University has demonstrated exactly that. Less TV equals
less violence. Earlier this year Stanford released a landmark
study demonstrating a 50% decrease in verbal aggression, and a
40% decrease in physical aggression, just by encouraging kids
to turn off their TVs and video games.
N. Robinson, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford and
the study's lead author, stated that: "What this says is
there is something you can do in a practical way, in a real-world
setting, and see the effects."
Stanford data was gathered at two similar San Jose elementary
schools. Researchers first carefully assessed the baseline level
of aggressive behavior in 192 third- and fourth-graders through
playground observations and interviews. Then, they introduced
a curriculum at one school meant to encourage children to cut
back on video games and to watch less TV.
of the pupils agreed to participate in an initial, 10-day effort
to turn off television altogether, which was monitored by slips
signed by parents. Over half of them continued to limit their
television watching to under seven hours per week during the next
20 weeks the researchers found a 40 percent reduction in physical
aggression, and a 50 percent reduction in the level of verbal
aggression in the overall population at the experimental school
compared with the one that did not follow the curriculum. The
children who were the most aggressive at the outset of the study
had the most to gain, and they showed the greatest benefit. The
researchers also noted significant reduction in obesity and overeating
problems in the school where the curriculum was introduced.
personal correspondence with Dr. Robinson, the lead researcher
in this project, he told me that, "One of my goals is to
make the curriculum available widely. I get many requests directly
from teachers and other researchers." Every parent, teacher,
and leader in American should insist that this curriculum be integrated
into their school as soon as possible.
remember when my 1st grade teacher told us that cigarettes can
kill people. My dad smoked! I loved my dad and didn't want him
to die. So I hid his cigarettes. He convinced me that that was
not a good idea, but the generation that was taught in elementary
school about the health risk of tobacco is the generation that
grew up and played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with the tobacco
Now we are on the threshold of a generation that will be informed
about the health impact of media violence, and the result will
be a major victory for America's children and for the American
Stanford Study from the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
of Stanford Study:
in the Media