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The Impact of Mass Media on Gang Violence - Research Paper Example

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The impact of mass-media on gang violence “Violence isn't always evil. What's evil is the infatuation with violence" Jim Morrison Violence and acts of aggression among the youth is one of the most infamous forms of violence witnessed in our society in recent times…
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The Impact of Mass Media on Gang Violence
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Download file to see previous pages The key underlying themes of these images which were blatantly promoted by the media, included groups of youths and delinquents, especially from economically disadvantaged minority backgrounds, sporting high-power weaponry and swanky motor-vehicles to execute illegal activities such as drug trafficking, thefts and even murders. Since most of the images portrayed included vulnerable youth, the concept became a cause of public concern, given the exposure of youth to such images (Cummings 257). This paper on gang violence among the youth seeks to explore the role of mass media in popularizing and fuelling the trend, and the likely impact of exposure of such images on the youth. The concept of gangs and the precise definition of the same have been researched and debated by authors and scholars alike, with hardly any consensus regarding the same. There has been a dominating presence of youth gangs, as is evident from recorded history (Pitts, Hagedorn). Although the systematic study of the phenomenon and its likely association with mass media portrayal is a relatively recent phenomenon. The concept of youth oriented gangs, initially suffered from definitional ambiguity; since there was no common consensus among the scholars regarding what comprised 'youth gangs'. Role of mass media in perpetuating the youth gang culture: The fact that media plays a dominant role in perpetuating stereotypes, and the culture of youth gang violence has been often misrepresented both in print as well as television media. The mass media essentially feeds on stereotypical misrepresentations of cultural phenomenon which are likely to attract widespread public attention, in a bid to sensationalize the issue and gain a wider audience. The topics of youth gangs, hold an aura of mystic appeal which has the capability to capture the imagination of the public, and hence are persistently used by the mass media to incite moral panic (Sheldon et al; Zatz). Such misrepresentations, however untrue, finds large scale acceptance among the audience due to its tendency to sensationalize and glamorize the issue, and is known to have a significant impact and influence on the young minds, since the youth are emotionally volatile and disoriented, to a large extent, and the depiction of youth gangs provide them with a sense of emotional relativity (Short and Hughes). The concept of gang violence is particularly found to be highly appealing to the youth, and its constant portrayal and glamorization by the mass media further adds to the formation of a societal culture, whereby such immoral activities not only find wide scale acceptance but tends to promote, encourage and at times even demand such violence. The media images of gangs are particularly perceived as attractive by the youth, who are known to spend considerable time on viewing television, and listening to music which has high amount of violent lyrics (Moore). According to statistics, the incidence of gang violence among the youth has increased substantially over the past couple of decades. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention states that the gang related homicide increased by 10 per cent during the period from 2009 – 2010. Figure 1: Source: U.S. Department of Justice. Some researchers have argued that the mass-media plays a dominant role in reinforcing certain social norms and values which due ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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