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This free website has been created especially for you by Bibi Baxter (International Author, Teacher & ESL/EFL Materials Specialist)  <>()<> This website contains 'something' for everyone <>()<> Established since 1993, Musical English Lessons International are the only world-wide suppliers of special ESL/EFL study ideas by Bibi Baxter (formerly Bibi Boarder)

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AN ARTICLE BY MARCUS STRIFE ABOUT TEEN VIOLENCE

Am important correction has been made to the references given in the following essay.  Details

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Teen Violence and Music: The Real Connection

contributed by Marcus Strife

(Age 16 from Indiana - Written 2001)

Does music encourage teen violence? This question has acted as a catalyst for a large and heated debate fueled by weak evidence of a few isolated incidents in America. In a time of modern witch hunts we need to work hard to prove that there either is or isn’t a connection. People are to eager to point a finger and find sense and reason for a few horrible acts committed by angry teens. What people fail to see is that the people who commit these crimes are not inspired by music, rather indignation caused by family or school. No one listens to a song and then feels the urge to steal or murder. This concept is ridiculous and parallels the closed-mindedness and rash thinking of the plague, or ancient China’s burning of the books. Fearful and sheltering parents have had a literal frenzy attacking music that teens use as a backdrop to their lives.

Parents see music as a cancer consuming their innocent children and what morals they still have. They attack all forms of music except their own; not even the Rolling Stones are safe from parents. As Prof. Peter Christenson of Lewis and Clark college states: “music can make a good mood better and allow us to escape or “work through” a bad one,”(see references below). Music is mainly used as a background activity; for example, a teen will turn on music to help them get to sleep or relax. Despite this, parents see music being associated with pain, sex, and, violence. They use tired and cliché examples, for example the two boys involved in the Columbine shooting listened to Linkin-Park and played Doom. The real reason behind this horrific tragedy was the way they were being treated both at home and at school. When someone is treated unfairly, or isn’t accepted as a member of “popular society” they can lash out in violent ways. They spend their spare time fantasizing about revenge of the people who have treated them badly, in their emotionally disturbed mind they have been victimized and they are simply serving out justice. Irate parents fail to see that no one group can possibly be blamed. The notion that loud music equals horrible violence is laughable.


There is no proof on either side that music contributes to violence, but for some reason parents feel content with conjecture and casual observations. On a subject that affects so many one can’t make rash judgements. People need to think everything out and rationalize, not jump at the chance to point blame at something. There are other circumstances that must be looked at, such as criminal history, mental status, and family life.

 

There are some solutions that fit the needs of both groups; however, no one is willing to give them a chance. One possible solution is extensive research on the effects of music in correlation to violence. This research would finally prove whether or not music does have an effect on human behavior. The tests would be simple and effective: simply monitor the seritonin, adrenaline, and testosterone levels in the subject, then interview the subject to see if his/her behavior has changed. This would finally give people some evidence with some substance. However, as with all things there is a slight downfall: these tests would require paid staff willing to do the work and it would take time for the results to come into view.


Another solution would be to hire a committee to censor the music and decide whether or not the album should get a warning label. The committee will be large and diverse; it will mimic a republic with representatives of different groups. A small group of over protective and passive aggressive moms is not condemning music upon arrival. If the music is still in question after the evaluation, the artist will be asked to come in and explain the meaning of the piece. This gives the artist say in how his or her music is going to be sold. If the music is still deemed too violent, it will be given a warning label. The warning label will cause the cost of the album to go up substantially and it will be a deterrent to some teens. There will also be age restrictions placed on "labeled music"; the restrictions will be similar to going to see an R rated movie. To buy the restricted music, you either need a parent or guardian to give permission, or you need to be over the age of 17.

 

There are downfalls to this solution as well. Because there will be several different groups in the committee, there will be conflict and debate. There would be question as to the guidelines that define violent or mature material. When these guidelines are finally set, people would debate over weather or they are fair. Substantial amounts of time would be required to simply find representatives for the committee. People would not be happy with the raised prices and restrictions that are placed on labeled music. This would cause substantial drops in profits for record labels, record stores, and the artists themselves. And finally artists, stores, and record labels may not be willing to corporate with the regulations, defeating the entire purpose. Again the music providers could sue for loss of profit, as Kathleen O’toole states in her article (based on the 1998 book from Professor Donald Roberts of Stanford University and Professor Peter Christenson of Lewis and Clark College, "It's Not Only Rock & Roll: Popular Music in the Lives of Adolescents" (Hampton Press Communication Series) by Peter G. Christenson, Donald F. Roberts)  “Labels warning of explicit lyrics on recordings prompt adolescents in general to like the music less. They see it as ‘tainted fruit’ rather than as ‘forbidden fruit’ they must try.” 


Teenagers today are caught in the middle of an endless debate with seemingly no fair solution. Teens are forced to choose between what they love to do and what they are told to do. From the days of the “flappers” of the Roaring Twenties to present day’s alternative rock, music continues to be a catalyst of debate among parents and the artists behind the music. However people view today’s music, as with all music throughout history, music in any form has represented sociological and historical change. In the words of the virtuosos of rock music “the times they are a-changin. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand…” (Bob Dillon:  “The Times They Are a-Changin”)

Amended References:

Marcus was partly inspired by an article by Kathleen O’toole, entitled:  Rock & Roll: does it influence teens’ behavior?  However, Ms. O'Toole is not an expert on this subject and was only reporting the opinions of Professor Donald Roberts and Professor Peter Christension of Lewis and Clark College, as stated in their 1998  book, "It's Not Only Rock & Roll: Popular Music in the Lives of Adolescents" (Hampton Press Communication Series) by Peter G. Christenson, Donald F. Roberts.   (Therefore, please DO NOT quote Kathleen O'Toole;  her full letter is included below)

  • From :O'Toole, Kathleen
  • Sent : 04 November 2004 16:43:17
  • Subject : please revise article

Dear sir or madam "Bibi," Could you please change an article on your website that is misleading lots of students and even a few professors?  They call me as if I were some expert on pop music, when, in fact, I am just a journalist/editor who reported in 1997 on some studies conducted by a couple of professors. The citation in your story  should attribute the information  to the professors I  quoted or to their book. (I am referring to the article "Teen Violence and Music: The Real Connection
contributed by Marcus Strife"(Age 16 from Indiana - Written 2001) located at http://www.musicalenglishlessons.org/contributors/marcusstrife.htm  The base source for the article that your writer, Marcus Strife, quotes  is at this web address:
http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/1997/november12/teenmusic.html

As you will see, the real sources of this information are listed in that story as: Professor Donald Roberts of Stanford University and Professor Peter Christenson of Lewis and Clark College, and their 1998  book, "It's Not Only Rock & Roll: Popular Music in the Lives of Adolescents" (Hampton Press Communication Series) by Peter G. Christenson, Donald F. Roberts.
 
I would very much appreciate it if you could remove the references to me because that seems to be misleading a lot of people. Please let me know if you will do this.
 
Sincerely,
Kathleen O'Toole
Editor, Stanford Business magazine

 

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