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Rebecca Hagelin / Nov. 3, 2009

Violence Against Women and Girls Explodes on Television

Recent news stories have focused on the tremendous advances women have made in society. But there’s bad news too: The Parents Television Council reports that women and girls are victimized more often and more brutally in television programming than ever before. The PTC study, “Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend” reads, in part:

“Incidents of violence against women and teenage girls are increasing on television at rates that far exceed the overall increases in violence on television. Violence, irrespective of gender, on television increased only 2% from 2004 to 2009, while incidents of violence against women increased 120% during that same period.”

The report also says, “Although female victims were primarily of adult age, collectively, there was a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims across all networks from 2004 to 2009.”

Parents Television Council president Tim Winter warns, “A wave of media violence is hitting the public like a tsunami. And according to the weight of medical experts, the effect is particularly devastating to children.”

Winter points to a wide body of evidence: “3,500 studies have looked at the relationship between media violence and violent behavior. Only 18 of those studies failed to find a relationship between the two. And of those 18, some were underwritten by the entertainment industry; and some were performed not by medical experts, but by economists.” (You can access the reports at www.ParentsTV.org)

Watching senseless violence against anyone – whether male or female – degrades the observer and erodes our notions of civility and decency as a nation. If your family casually watches brutality and accepts it is as “entertaining”, then you are part of the problem.

What is the situation in your home? Are you allowing women and girls to be “virtually” beaten, raped and threatened in your family room? Are sex acts and violence taking place in front of a vulnerable audience of…your own children?

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that 68 percent of teens have televisions in their bedrooms, and that often their parents have no idea what they are watching.

Make it your job to always know what is “on” in your home, and be prepared to use your parental authority to just “turn it off” when you feel that the content is demeaning or just plain raunchy. For many parents, taking the first step can be awkward.

Arm yourself with the information you need to fight back. One way to successfully take control is to download the complete report, for free, from www.ParentsTV.org and discuss it with your family. It’s an effective way to explain why you have decided to raise the standards in your home.

And, coming in the summer of 2010, there’s an amazing new tool hitting the market that gives parents control over the actual scenes within shows that come into your home. I’m proud to be part of this new effort to empower moms and dads with a means to protect your kids from what you consider offensive. The MPower Box automatically keeps out the television commercials you find objectionable and even filters the content of programs, scene by scene, according to your standards - not someone else’s. To learn more about this exciting breakthrough and to express your views on media content, log on to the MyMpowerBox survey page where you can let your voice be heard.

Finally, while you take proactive steps to protect your own children, you can also have an impact on the creation of television content. How? Let advertisers and programmers hear from you. Again, Parents Television Council takes the lead in helping you to find out who is sponsoring what, and how to reach them. When you visit www.ParentsTV.org, just click on the “Take Action” button and you will be directed to contact information for the networks, advertisers, and production companies.

It’s time to take a stand for decency – it’s time to take control. Start by participating in the survey on media content at the MyMPowerBox site.

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