Attorneys General, FTC Chairman, and YWCA of the U.S.A. Launch Initiatives to "Tune Out the Violence"

For Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCTOBER 19, 1999 -- "Tune Out the Violence," a nationwide effort to reduce the impact of media violence on young people, was launched today in a first-ever partnershi[ between the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the YWCA of the U.S.A., with two new initiatives aimed at helping parents and their children "tune out" violence from their lives. Tune Out the Violence is timed to coincide with theYWCA Week Without Violence, October 17-23, 1999.

The 1999 Tune Out the Violence initiatives include a Media Violence Inventory which will allow parents to log the violent content of television programs viewed bytheir children. the Media Violence Inventory, a week-long television viewing diary, can help parents learn more about their children's viewing habits and encourage family discussions on theimpact of violence in the media.

Another element of Tune Out the Violence is a wallet-size card developed by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Juvenile Justice and delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice in conjunction with the National Association of Attorneys General, the YWCA of the U.S.A., which contains thorough explanations of ratings systems for films, music CDs, and video games. Parents will be able to refer to the card while shopping for their children during the upcoming holiday shopping season.

"Violent entertainment does not trigger violent behavior in all kids, but it does appear to provide models for those children who are disposed to act out their violennt fantasies in real life," said NAAG President and Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "It's easy for parents to feel powerless when it comes to controlling their children's exposure to violent entertainment. We hope these materials educate parents and help them to open new areas of discussion with their children."

Officials from NAAG, the FTC, and the YWCA of the U.S.A., noted that the ratings systems for various media should be considered a minimum set of standards and an important first step in helping families determine appropriate viewing or purchases.

"The ratings guide wallet card we are releasing today will help parents determine whether a particular film, video game or album is appropriate for their child. Our hope is that parents will use this guide now and during the coming holiday season to limit or monitor their children's exposure to violent materials," said FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky.

"We are pleased that the National Association of Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission have joined the YWCA's efforts to address issues of violence in our communities. The shootings in Littleton, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Fort Worth show that tragic, unpredictable violence has become all too commonplace. As we enter the new millenium, we hope that America can leave the culture of violence behind," said Prema Mathai-Davis, CEO of the YWCA of the U.S.A.

Both Republican and Democatic Congressional representatives have voiced their concerns about the amount of violence in the media and its effect on young people.

"What is on television, in the movies, and over the airwaves--the stories and songs of America--mold and shape attitudes far more that what happens (in Washington, D.C.)," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).

Sen. Brownback's sentiments were echoed by Sen. Joseph Liebermann (D-CT): "As we search for answers, the American people are looking more and more at the environment in which we are raising our children, at all the death and dismemberment and degradation that we expose them to through the media."

The Media Violence Inventory will be available through more than 300 YWCA locations across the United States and through participating Attorney General offices, and can be downloaded from the National Association of Attorneys General web site at: http://www.naag.org. The media ratings guide wallet cards will be available through YWCA locations and the YWCA web site athttp://www.ywca.org, the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov and participating Attorney General offices.

To illustrate the amount of violence to which young people are exposed on television alone, Attorney General Gregoire cited the following statistics:

  • Children watch an average of 28 hours of television each week.1
  • By high school graduation, teens have spent more time watching television than going to school.2
  • By age 70, Americans have spent 7 years in front of the television.3
  • By about age 11, children have seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television.4
  • 5-6 violent acts occur per hour on prime time, with 20-25 acts an hour on children's programming.1
  • 73% of violence on television is rewarded or unpunished, and 58% of violent acts show no pain to victims.5

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) was founded in 1907. NAAG's mission is to facilitate interaction among Attorneys General as peers and to facilitate the enhanced performance of Attorneys General and their staffs. NAAG fosters an environment of cooperative leadership, helping Attorneys General respond effectively, individually, and collectively to emerging state and federal issues.

The YWCA of the U.S.A. is the nation's oldest and largest women's membership movement. Operating out of thousands of locations in all 50 states, the YWCA of the U.S.A. represents approximately 2 million women, girls and their families. Its mission, to empower women and girls and to eliminate racism, is the guiding principle for all YWCA child care, sports and fitness, domestic violence and violence prevention, shelter and social justice programs.

The Federal Trade Commission enforces federal laws and rules prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices or methods of competition. The FTC was created in 1914 and has five Commissioners.

Endnotes:

1. Donnerstein, E., Slaby, R., and Eron, L. (1995). The mass media and youth agression, In L.Eron, J. Gentry, and P. Schlegal (Eds). Reason to Hope: A Psychological Perspective on Violence and Youth, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

2. Sege, R., and Dietz, W., Television Viewing and Violence in Children: The Pediatrician as Agent for Change (1994), Pediatrics Vol. 94, No. 4.

3. Comstock, G., Strasburger, V.C., Deceptive Appearances: Television Violence and Agressive Behavior, Journal of Adolescent Health Care 1990; 11:31.

4. Huston, A.C., Donnerstein, E., Fairchild, H., Feshbach, N.D., Katz, P.A., Murray, J.P., Rubinstein, E.A., Wilcox, B.L., and Zuckerman, D. (1992). Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

5. National Television Violence Study, National Cable Television Association, Executive Summary, 1996. 

For more information on Tune Out the Violence, contact:

Chris Privett
NAAG Communications Director
202-326-6047 

Khristina Lew
YWCA of the U.S.A.
Public Relations/Media Specialist
212-273-7895

Victoria Streitfeld
FTC Communications Director
202-326-2718