Sex, the media & the kids

I stumbled on a very disturbing news report recently. It was on an 8 year old girl allegedly raped by two 10 year old boys. In the academia, theories of media effects on people is always hotly debated- and when it comes to how it affects kids’ behaviours, the argument gets even more heated because it becomes a whole lot more difficult to measure.

How can you ask a 7yr old if she slapped her elder brother across the face, because she saw Eva Longoria do the same thing on Desperate Housewives and get away with it?

Despite my appreciation of the fact that the media cannot solely carry the burden of shaping  people’s behaviour, I still want to lay majority of the responsibility-weight on it. Let us set the ball rolling by examining children’s media content from the outset:

As far back as my memory can serve me… growing up, some of the programmes I was exposed to included:

Super Ted : SuperTed was a welsh animated television series about a teddy bear with magical super powers.

Voltron: was another American-animated action series

I had my bouts of Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs : to me, the were just cartoon characters kissing -but based on my social environment ,  which was not too tolerant of such behviours among my age group, I would not dare try that in real life. But boy did I look out for my prospective  ‘Prince Charming’ in my primary school classes.. yes! { *Blushes Profusely*}. It was only normal I knew what a crush was.

This is the only point where I agree with co-debators that the media cannot be solely to blame for people’s behaviours, whether good  or bad. My social environment at that time, was not conduscive for 8,9 year olds to kiss – my immediate social environment was my home, and such behaviour just was not tolerated. But I beg to differ that the media is largely responsible.

I was not the only one caught in the whirlwind of kiddy-romance. I still remember the funny comments ‘graffitti-ed’ all over the girls’ bathroom walls in primary school. Stuff like – “I kissed Maureen yesterday”. We were just a bunch on rowdy 7-10 year olds on the way to high school.

Those where Tv media content for my time-past (jeez am getting old, 🙂 ).

Today, we have an array too wide to mention… but I will just settle for a few very popular ones. Especially, the ones that are popular with kids around me. Some of these human characters (not just cartoons anymore), have become icons for these kids such that, the influence of these media characters weighs far beyond what they act on screen. Even their lifestyles are religiously followed. Romance among kids on TV is somewhat legitimized, which is not so horrible in itself.

But mix that bit with a child who is already prone to violent behaviours based on his immediate environment, and you have a prospective rapist in your hands. Let’s check out Ted Bundy- a popular American Serial Killer of the 1970s. I was reading stuff on him yesterday and he said this, “you are going to kill me, and that will protect society from me. But out there are many more people who are addicted to pornography and you are doing nothing about that.” -Ted Bundy.

Sources claim” Bundy stated that while pornography did not cause him to commit murder, the consumption of violent pornography helped “shape and mold” his violence into “behavior too terrible to describe.”

Still on this issue of violence, a good friend wrote a piece on violence and kids titled, “R-Rated Violence, it began early in our lives”. He said, “Let’s go back a few years. Do you remember the nursery rhymes and fairy tales we learnt as kids? That’s what is causing all of this violence. We were exposed to R-Rated violence right from the beginning.”

Then he went on to give examples of Nursery poems such as the 3 Blind Mice, 3 Little pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, etc I shall upload his note soon .. coz i found it very interesting.

He is however not of my school of thought on this one, and I can count 1001 colleagues who would disagree as well. But this is my diary 😛 and its my thought. Comments please???

I told you , u gotta love this one!!!

♥♥  ♫♥

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13 thoughts on “Sex, the media & the kids

  1. Brown says:

    Tomi, what are you talking about here?
    I wonder what sort of Media they had in the times of Sodom and Gomora, excuse my spelling. Tomi promiscuity and its likes, rape, etc. can not be blamed on media or environment. “I lay before you…”, u know what I’m saying? The failure of humans to face the responsibility of choosing which character, principles or ethics to live by should be accepted wholly by the person…got a lot to say about this but I think yall understand

  2. Dennis says:

    The classic discussion on media effects is an never ending story – each position on this specific scientific discourse can refer to a study which allegedly supports empirical evidence to prove them true. However, a comparative look on all these theories (e.g. catharsis, cultivation, neutrality etc. etc.), experiments, survey’s and studies highlights first and foremost one important aspect: Media effects are an extremely complex phenomenon, influenced by and depending on multiple factors.
    It is easy to find certain weaknesses in all existing models and studies. Defining terms like “media violence” or “media sexuality” is a challenging task and it is even more difficult to construct an intersubjective, epistemologically sound empirical method to measure “effects” on an individual’s behaviour. An interdisciplinary approach is once more indispensable (media studies, psychology, social sciences, paedagogy etc.).

    However, I personally believe that there are indeed certain “effects” of the media on the perception of the world (including values, cultural customs etc.). They provide in different forms all the knowledge of the world we cannot experience by ourselves. Nevertheless, at the moment we cannot really estimate the actual relevance and impact neither in general nor on a specific behavioural pattern. Still it is only one among many other important factors – the human being is far to complex for simple causalities. Yes, there are some children, who are heavily negatively affected by the media – but most, I dare to say, are not. At least not in the simple “I imitate what I see”-way.

    Laying the majority of responsibility on the media – yes, if children spend more time with the TV than with their parents. I do not want to protect the media from criticism; there is a lot of awful stuff out there, especially in the internet (think of porn). But in this context, most of the responsibility lays on the parents: They have to take care what and how long their kids watch/play and also to talk with them about what they have consumed. We do not need more restrictions, there are enough laws which forbid the publication of really unethical content (I am no expert for the UK but I assume that it is largely comparable to Germany, though the latter might have some stricter regulations concerning neo-fascism and violent movies/games). Asking for more regulation – as some voices do – leads in the end only to more censorship.
    It is up to the parents and to every other consumer to decide for themselves. You are not forced to watch, read, play, and listen to all the media available. Luckily, you always have a choice.

    Sad incidents like the rape-attempt by 10 year-olds mentioned above, should indeed make us all wonder. And of course we should critically examine the media, too. Nevertheless, this tragedy hints to far bigger social problems in an increasingly anonymous, brutalized, and fragmented society.

    • tomioladepo says:

      Well said Dennis. I do agree with you on the count that there are enough laws restricting media content already. Besides, give authorities a step and they will take a mile by probably abusing the justification to create those laws and further tighten their hold on the media.

      My take is that, while we seek solutions to this appalling state of things- the media could make an effort to pause at the extremes it has already reached; and the not push the borders of the envelope in the name of commercial interest. However, that is just wishful thinking!

  3. Pina says:

    Interesting read, how the hell did the 10yr olds rape the girl, i can’t comprehend! While I agree that the media is not solely responsible for changing behaviours, i also believe that it should uphold its own end of social responsibility, it shouldn’t be carried away by its need for viewership and or isternership, yes we watched sesame street, snow white etc and we thoughy sex was sacred and the final destination when you’re in love (which takes time of course) but the fantasies of prince charming were very good so much that i don’t want any girl to be robbed of it. it us sickening to find out that children who are not even teenagers yet don’t think sex is a big deal “it is a big deal!” It really is..

    • tomioladepo says:

      Social Responsibilty is the word Pina! Thanks for bringing that to fore.
      However social responsiblity is difficult to monitor and enforce, without submitting to power of some form of authority. And that is what @Dennis is arguing against. There is enough control on the media already, we do not need more. So what happens now- looks like a deadlock to me 😦

  4. kitua says:

    You know how you never forget the things that happen to you when you were 5?, even after 20years? Back in the good days i was like 5 and i shared a seat with another 5year old, and he would threaten to hit me below the belt, and the best i could do was tell my teacher, i was hit on the tommy……
    If those kids were like the kid in my class, then you can say they have had twice the time to do more ill.
    you dont wanna know what goes on in the heart(mind) of man! Its a deeeeeep Ocean. What role did the media play in the Sodom? what role did the media play in my nursery II class?Blaming the media is refusing to accept responsibility for your action cos truely, life is a choice

  5. Ekpemi says:

    The Blame game. its so disgusting watching people blame something. So far i realised that anyone that knows right and wrong should accept responsibility for what they do.

    but then again defining right and wrong, thats another issue..but, in this case, yeah these Kids have the ability to choose, i can still remember, quite vividly my life when i was in Nursery school. So, no, i do not blame any media.

    @Pina, what sort of world are you living in.

    I attended a child-protection seminar, and the horrors of wat we were told, a 6year old sexually ausing a nine year old. noow tell me which media, they got that from.

    Until we humans open our eyes, and stop the pretence, things would be better. being a ‘child’ doesnt cover for anything.
    Me sef i’m a ‘child’ in my mid-twenties (my mam thinks so)

    Happy Childrens Day.

  6. It is absolutely disingenuous to claim that the media should not be blamed for the negative effects it creates on our kids or adults. You do not not need an empirical study to come to a clear conclusion on the matter. One major case you can infer from is how much African’s have been swamped with Western ideas and way of life? How did that come? Only through colonialism? Of course not! Colonialism only began the process to which the media has solidified. Be that as it may, I also do not subscribe to fighting the media to correct its way, that will never happen. So the onus is left to the individual to take responsibility for what he consumes in the media. You are the only person you can regulate, so regulate your life because outside you, you have no control.

    And great note Tomi!

    • Sanmi Gbadegesin says:

      Reginald, I agree with you totally. It all comes down to individuals taking control of themselves. You don’t have full control of what you get exposed to due to the numerous daily activities we get engaged in but you can control yourself from being sunk in and getting polluted.

  7. Dennis says:

    There are some true and traceable points in the previous comment – but also certain statements I have strongly to disagree with.

    “Disingenous”? As usual, discussions on such a controversial topic become very fast very emotional – which makes it even more complicated to have a productive debate on the issue. One could also argue that it is “disingenous” to blame the media instead of laying the responsibility on the parents (as well as the social environment). A lot of crucial terms remain rather unclear…what media are we talking about? What do the “effects” look like? How do they cause these effects exactly?
    I agree with you that there are certain negative effects – but we have to critically revise the actual impact of them. Bad behaviour is not caused by watching R-rated media content alone. If it was that simple, our whole society would have already broken down because we all went nuts after watching one evening of TV.

    “You do not need an empirical study to come to a clear conclusion on the matter” – I doubt that. Things are far away from being clear and what might be a self-evident truth to you can be completely implausible to another person with a different perspective. If it was as simple as you have described it, why are we arguing anyway?
    An argument needs evidence and a comprehensible, logical theoretical background. I’m not saying that empirical sciences are perfect – they cannot and will never deliver an absolute truth; however, if properly applied they are still the most appropriate way to come close to “objectivity” and substantiated findings. Of course, all of us are free to criticize and discuss them.

    Concerning “responsibility” I strongly agree with you, though I do not share your perception of “the media”. Furthermore, I also think that this is a good and important note Tomi wrote – as it caused a pluralistic and interesting debate. That’s always a good sign.

  8. tami alamina says:

    well am left with a summary of wat every other person has said about the relationship between the media and responsibility of parents and the individual behavioure of children alike. my opinion as touching this matter has to do with the part of the globe were this sexual crime is percieved to have taken place and the values or moral fabrics that binds such society together… If for instance as i have come to see in the uk that the individual child is encouraged to take personal responsibility for himself at an early age compaired to his mates from other parts of the world then i would like to subscribe that if “Tabular Rasa” has any sociological implication then the media shuold be curssioned and parents as well to understand the implication of allowing a child to be exposed at an early age expecially when such a child can hardly distinguish good from bad..in this instance weather such a parent is in Africa or in a western country..such a parent should be held responsible for morally devalueing their child…becourse the presence of a parent it to help a child build thier moral cultural and social values of which it can be said that most modern parentas are allowing the media exchange their personal responsibility to thier children …tami pls forgive my spellings

  9. Chichi says:

    RESPONSIBILITY, RESPONSIBILITY RESPONSIBILITY……that is what it all boils down to. The world we live in thanks to the media- which makes information readily available- is jam packed with all sorts of ideals that are pushed to different audiences be it kids, adults or whatever and anyone can stumble upon anything….Be open and teach your children moral responsibility. THE MEDIA IS FORCING US TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS…

    Expose them to what is right and necessary.
    Yes Sex is very sacred, teach your children that.

    @ pina….i do not entirely agree with the prince charming thing which has messed up so many young girls……instead of being go getters…they wait and wait for their prince charming….anyways that is a whole different story.

    The media in the US for one has provided all sorts of things to be accessed by children. Just educate your children, know your children, provide a well balanced environment from them, and hopefully they wont go around raping or sexually molesting other kids.

  10. Justino says:

    Hmmmm! I cant believe i went down the terrain of this rather scholarly article. I must confess, i respect the ontological stance of everyone who has contributed to this article. However, as an addendum to this body of knowledge I will draw my argument from 2 pristine parlance:

    First, speaking from day to day pragmatic experiences, i can assert “ipso facto” and “ipso jure” that the insidious effect of the MEDIA on this present day generation(this encompasses both kids, teenagers, youths and even adults) cannot be overemphasised. In other words, Im a strong proponent of this school of thought. This took me back the reminiscence of a module i did during my Msc…”The Media: a friend or enemy?” However, the answer to this question tandems both in corroboration and collaboration with my fellow learned colleagues especially @ Reginald Bassey’s comment…..since it is rather impossible to dissociate ourselves from the media, we are rather left with the option of choosing what we “gulp in”. For example, keep watching sex scenes for 1 month you will definitely want to practice it in reification (Experiment shows). In compedium, THE MEDIA CAN MAKE OR MAR, and i think in this aura it is lugubrious to note that it is doing more of the latter.

    Lastly, although this sounds rather spiritual than academical. I tried to go back to the underpinning tenets of this write up, and a question kept coming. How on earth can a young lady of 8years attract young boys of 10years to the point of rape? (least age of commencing puberty in ladies, meaning that ceteris paribus to all anatomical and physiological functioning, ladies cant start puberty less than 8 years). As i challenged my perspication on this conundrum, i discovered it can only happen for 3 reasons: what they have seen(either physicallly or on TVs), what they have heard (this first 2 has already been justified) and lastly as a result of the unconscious lust for sex which sprees everywhere by the ENDTIME SPIRIT, SERVING AS A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION…..That is why you an see young boys and girls kissing and caressing each other in open alfresco without any iota of panic.

    May God help us all!!!
    Bless you Tomi, u are too much

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