Sexual violence in the mass media: Legal solutions, warnings, and mitigation through education

Depictions of sexual violence in the media can promote antisocial attitudes and behavior. Three approaches to the problem of sexual violence in the media are explored: (a) legal restrictions, (b) informational labeling, and (c) formal education. It is premature to advocate legal restrictions since existing research leaves too many questions unanswered. Informational labeling is not a viable solution because of problems inherent in the most widely used scheme, including the basic assumption that ratings should be based on what is offensive to parents rather than on what is assumed to be or known to be "harmful" to viewers. Research on educational interventions designed to mitigate the effects of exposure to sexual violence is discussed, and several promising procedures are identified.
Wilson,Barbara J.
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Journal of Social Issues
Adolescent exposure to violence in the mass media may result in detrimental societal effects. Research suggests that exposure to violent materials, whether or not they are sexually explicit, results in less sensitivity toward victims of sexual violence. Three solutions to the problem are addressed. The solution of strengthening the obscenity laws was found to be ineffective because the laws focus on sexual explicitness and not violence. The film rating system was also found to be ineffective because it is found to be inconsistent with social science research on the effects of sexual violence. Finally the solution that holds the most promise is educational interventions directed to changing beliefs about rape and sexual violence. A program is presented that is based on prior research with college students.
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Adolescent/High School, Community Attitudes/Responses
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