Do violent shows on TV make children violent?


Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:

Robert C. Embry Jr., President, The Abell Foundation, Baltimore: As you consider the evidence as to the effect of television on violent behavior, you may want to read the attached article that sets forth some of the findings on this issue.

COMMENT: Thank you for the article from the November/December issue of Harvard Magazine which quotes, among others, a study that makes the claim:

". . . TV viewing at age 8 was an accurate predictor of violent behavior in adolescents and adults."

Even if this study is to be believed, it does not address a key question: Did TV viewing make these kids violent or do already violent kids merely like to watch violent TV shows?

Further, the question I have raised time and again remains unanswered:

If violent TV shows make kids more violent, how come funny TV shows don't make kids any funnier?

But I agree this is a complicated and important subject, one deserving of more study and one that we should all keep an open mind about.

Personally, I feel a small study grant from the Abell Foundation -- a million bucks ought to do it -- would keep my mind way open.


Burt Davis, Easton: There's surely no argument with your column on the need for an investigation of the press [regarding special treatment from the Customs Department on overseas White House trips].

But have the press investigate itself? Hah! DOUBLE HAH!

So who could research this objectively? Perhaps Gallup or some other professional group. Certainly not the press itself.

COMMENT: I understand your reluctance to trust an investigation of the press by the press, but all Gallup could tell us is how people feel about the press.

The good news is that since my column appeared, the Washington Post did a small story and the Los Angeles Times ran a three-part series that examined this issue among others.

The bad news is that the obvious and most cost-effective solution -- setting up a Customs gate at Andrews Air Force base for returning reporters -- will never occur.

The press would never stand for being treated like ordinary citizens.


Arlene Sawicki, South Barrington, Ill.: Your mother was pro-life. Think about it.

COMMENT: That's what I like about the pro-life movement. It's so deep.


Nancy L. Pabst, Glen Burnie: Now that I have found a job -- not easy -- I am sitting around trying to obtain a Maryland drivers license for my Ohio one.

In order to perform that bit of magic I must produce:

* a certified copy of my birth certificate

* a certified copy of my marriage license

* my social security card

* my current drivers license

My problem: no certified copies, only uncertified ones.

I asked if they could make an exception if my very up-to-date passport is produced. So sorry, but not allowed. If my Ohio

drivers license had my full middle name, not just initials, well, maybe.

What is so special about a Maryland drivers license that requires all this special identification?

COMMENT: As near as I can tell, possessing a Maryland drivers license allows you to:

* drive at 85 mph in the slow lane and 25 mph in the fast lane

* change lanes without signaling

* abandon your car at the first sign of a snowflake

* buy beer at age 12.

So you can see why we don't give them out to just anybody.


Valerie Clayton, Baltimore: Sure, half of all doctors finished in the bottom half of their class, but they all finished medical school. Did you? Could you even get in to medical school?

COMMENT: OK, OK, I admit it: My feelings about doctors stem from the fact that I was thrown out of the San Cuspidor School of Medicine For Those Who Can't Get Into American Schools after I was discovered dating my cadaver.

As was the custom in those days, anyone thrown out of medical school was enrolled in journalism school.

L Anyone thrown out of journalism school was made a columnist.

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