Source: The Herlad Sun, Thursday, October 27, 1994, p.4


Children in fear of TV cruelty

 
By PAUL DOWSLEY and 
TERRY BROWN 
 
MOST children have been so 
disturbed by television shows 
they left the room or changed 
channels, a major survey has 
found. 
 
   And the Australian Broadcasting 
Authority survey of children's 
viewing revealed scenes of cruelty 
to animals and child abuse were 
the most traumatic. 
 
   But it found children were less 
worried about sex and nudity and 
were only minimally affected by 
seeing overseas disasters such as 
earthquakes. 
 
   Boys were big fans of action 
shows with guns, cars and 
fighting while girls preferred 
programs with teenagers or light 
kissing. 
 
   The survey was seized on by the 
Australian Council for Children's 
Films and Television as evidence 
stations failed children by 
showing too much death and 
titillation. 
 
   But the authority instead said the 
survey proved children were 
responsible, discriminating and 
were practising censorship. 
 
   The study, of 1710 children 
mainly aged from eight to 12 
years and 517 parents, is believed 
by the authority to be Australia's 
most comprehensive on the 
subject. 
 
   Authority chairman Mr Brian 
Johns said it would give 
broadcasters, parents and care- 
givers an insight into children 
and television. 
 
   "This is the International Year 
of the Family and our research is 
aimed at giving children a much- 
needed voice on issues about 
television," he said. 
 
   "The ABA has previously 
conducted research into adult 
attitudes on the classification 
issues of violence, offensive 
language and nudity on 
television. 
 
   "This research is important in 
that it looks at these issues from 
the child's perspective." 
 
   The survey found 66 per cent of 
girls and 44 per cent of boys had 
been sufficiently upset by a show 
to stop watching. 
 
   Children were most distressed 
by violence against children, 
animals and fighting in the home. 
 
   Of those surveyed, 62 per cent 
watched television every day and a 
further 27 per cent viewed almost 
every day. 
 
   About 58 per cent of children 
said they watched television be- 
fore school. More than half said 
they ate dinner in front of televi- 
sion. 
 
   One-third of the boys said they 
watched television alone and 11 
per cent of all children said they 
could watch whatever they liked. 
 
   Survey co-author, broadcasting 
authority senior researcher Ms 
Milica Loncar said the study was 
the biggest of its kind. 
 
   She said it showed children were 
discerning viewers capable of 
censorship and most families had 
viewing rules. 
 
   "It's very interesting that 
children are exercising self 
censorship. If something does 
come on they don't like, they 
switch over or leave," Ms Loncar 
said. 
 
   But Australian Council for 
Children's Films and Television 
president Ms Barbara Biggins said 
the survey showed self-regulation 
by television stations was not 
working. 
 
   Ms Biggins said news programs 
were "too busy showing death and 
destruction, titillating tales and 
exploitative material, rather than 
the serious treatment of what's 
really happened on any given 
day". 
 
   "The children's concerns about 
violence echoes what groups like 
ours have been saying," she said. 
 
"I watched a movie at my 
slumber party about a man 
killing people by chopping 
them in different places 
with scissors. The reason it 
scared me was because I'm 
going on camp next week 
and the man was killing 
people at a camp." 
 
- Girl, 12 
 
"We usually get our tea 
when the news is on and 
therefore I don't like 
watching it when all the 
blood and guts and all that 
sort of stuff is on when 
you're eating " 
 
- Boy, grade 3/4 
 
"I don't like (watching) 
much kissing. I just like 
mochineguns and 
everything." 
 
-Boy, grade 1/2 
 
"I feel like I want to get a 
bazooka and blow the two 
up and get rid of it because 
I hate fighting and 
sometimes I leave the 
room" 
 
-Boy, 10, on fight scenes 
 
"It makes me feel sick and I 
want to leave the room and 
it sometimes makes me 
scored and upset." 
 
- A girl, 9, commenting on 
dead bodies and blood on 
TV 
 
"(It) gives me nightmares 
but keeps you on the 
lookout for criminals." 
 
- Boy, 12, talking about 
shows based on real 
criminals 
 
Fights, fast  
cars for  
boys 
 
By TERRY BROWN 
 
GUNS, fights, fast cars 
monsters and gory dead 
bodies - that's what 
boys like 
 
   Girls? They prefer 
programs about 
teenagers with perhaps a 
little kissing. 
 
   The Australian 
Broadcasting Authority's 
survey found broad 
differences between what 
girls and boys like on 
televi-sion. 
 
   And the results follow 
sex stereotypes of rough, 
tough boys and quiet, 
sensitive girls. 
 
   Three-quarters of boys 
said they really liked to 
watch action movies with 
fights, guns and car 
chases. 
 
   Only one quarter of 
girls agreed. 
 
   And boys were much 
keener on programs 
showing people being 
beaten up, 45 per cent 
really liking to watch 
them compared with just 
6 per cent of girls. 
 
   Programs showing dead 
bodies with lots of blood 
scored top marks with 39 
per cent of boys but 11 
per cent of girls. 
 
   More than three times 
as many boys as girls 
really liked people using 
very rude words. 
 
   Almost four times as 
many boys as girls liked 
seeing scantily clad  
women, although girls 
and boys were equally 
unenthusiastic about near- 
naked men.
 
   Programs with kissing 
and teenagers were the 
favorite with girls. 
 
   And girls found 
violence in families and 
harm to animals their 
greatest turn-off. 
 
   The survey found 71 
per cent of girls didn't 
like programs where it 
appeared animals were 
hurt or killed, 71 per cent 
didn't like parents 
arguing and fighting and 
72 per cent hated seeing 
children being hurt. 
 
   About half the boys 
also found those subjects 
distressing. 
 
Parents 
watch 
out 
 
CHILDREN watch 
more television 
than their parents 
realise, the 
Australian 
Broadcasting 
Authority survey 
found. 
 
   While 53 per cent 
of children surveyed 
said they watched 
before school, only 
35 per cent of 
parents agreed. 
 
   Parent responses 
showed 34 per cent 
of children watched 
while eating dinner, 
but 54 per cent of 
surveyed children 
said they did. 
 
   About 32 per cent 
of children said 
they were allowed to 
watch only a certain 
amount, while 67 
per cent of parents 
said that was the 
rule.


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