Curran urges students to turn off TV violence Md. attorney general asks elementary school pupils to 'stand up in protest'

November 14, 1997|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

As part of a nationwide effort to curb media violence, Maryland's attorney general is asking elementary school students rather than their parents to turn off violent television shows and videos today.

Students across the state are being urged to write letters expressing their views about violence in the media and how it affects them, as Maryland's contribution to the nation's second Tune Out the Violence Day.

The effort is sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General.

"I believe it is time our kids make their voices heard on the barrage of violence piped into their homes each day," said Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. "Last year my message was to parents. This year I'm calling on children -- let Nov. 14 be the day you stand up in protest."

Of the students who send letters to Curran's office, three will be chosen to read their opinions in a public service announcement to be shown on cable channels throughout the state in early 1998.

"This is an effort to bring attention to the subject a first step in educating the public," said Dr. Paramjit Joshi, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the lead author of a recent survey on the sources of violence in adolescents' lives.

"I'm a big fan of prevention, even though you wait longer for the results. Kids get so in tune with all of this violence, they don't understand the long-term impact," Joshi said. Nor do adults seem aware of the cumulative effect when youngsters are bombarded with images of violent behavior that goes unpunished and often appears to do little harm, she said.

Studies show that children watch an average of 28 hours of television per week, and that by the time an average youngster has graduated from high school, he or she will have spent more time watching television than in school.

Curran will launch the Kids' Campaign Against Media Violence this morning at Chevy Chase Elementary School in Montgomery County, where fifth-graders were to take an anti-violence pledge that they wrote.

All public elementary schools in Maryland were to send home fliers this week promoting the tune-out/speak-out effort, but a Curran aide said she did not know how many schools are participating.

"On a school-by-school basis, we are participating," said Baltimore County schools' spokesman Donald Mohler. Some teachers may be working the letter-writing assignment into their lesson plans; other schools may not distribute the fliers because of other demands, he said.

Joshi's survey of 700 Baltimore County high school students showed that more students were exposed to violence through media than in their homes, neighborhoods or schools. Though not surprising, the findings indicate that teen-agers cannot escape violence, even if they are safe at home and school, she said.

The study also showed that about 10 percent of those surveyed had sought psychological help because of violence they had experienced through the media.

To participate in the letter-writing campaign, students may send letters by Dec. 12 to Media Violence Project, Office of the Attorney General, 200 St. Paul Place, Baltimore 21202.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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