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Youth Violence and Music

The prevailing opinion in the media is that listening to violent lyrics tends to lead to violence. This idea permeates nearly all media, news and entertainment. According to the conservative organization Empower America, the issue at heart is such music leading us on a "slide toward decivilization" (Bennet and Tucker, 1995). The idea being that by glorifying subjects like rape, murder, suicide and homophobia [the fear of homosexuals and their lifestyle], these lyrics erode the judgement and thought capabilities of adolescents.
In recent history, the popular solution to the problems of our society has been censorship [the mandated editing or suppression of the music thought to be at fault]. The Parents Music Resource Center [PMRC], headed by Pamela Howar and including such big Washington names as Tipper Gore [wife of Democratic Presidential Nominee Al Gore] pushed for Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA] style ratings of music (Deflem, 1993). The PMRC's efforts resulted in the widely noticed "Parental Advisory" warnings.
While the adults seem to agree, the youth, adolescents and artists alike, seem to take a different direction. The dominant point of view among younger audiences is that no one is responsible for teen violence but those who act out. But there is a second view. We are all equally guilty for the violent acts of youths (Manson, 1999).
Such violent acts, while increasingly spoken about by news and entertainment media, the Centers for Disease Control report that violence in adolescents is down (Youth 2000).
Given the perceived impact of violent lyrics, and the immense popularity and friction of this issue, it is surprising that little or no actual study has been done to back up any of these claims (Hogan et al, 1996).
The ultimate goal of my research is to determine whether there is a real, causal connection between violent lyrical content in music and violent feelings in teens. How…

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