Feature

A widely publicized congressional conference highlighted research done by psychologists on the link between entertainment violence and aggressive behavior in children--and called for more funding to be directed to this area of research.

"It is my hope, and strong belief, that this summit today will be a watershed in the way people think about entertainment violence and that through empowering parents with more information on the health risks it poses, they will be better equipped to protect their children," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R­Kan.).

The July Public Health Summit on Entertainment Violence was hosted by Brownback, Sen. Robert Byrd (D­W.V.), Sen. Kent Conrad (D­N.D.), and Reps. Tom Coburn (R­Okla.) and Tim Roemer (D­Ind). The event was organized to send the message to parents and the entertainment community that the lessons kids learn through violent video games, television programs, movies and music lyrics can be destructive.

APA, along with the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, released a joint "Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children" at the summit, a document that declared a consensus within the public health community on the negative effect violent entertainment has on children.

"The verdict on virtual violence is in now," said Brownback. "This statement reveals exactly what the consensus of the public health community is: that violent entertainment is a public health hazard."

Conference speakers included psychologist Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, assistant professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who discussed her research on the impact of violent media on young African-American females. Another psychologist, Karen Dill, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C., explained her research, which has shown that the more violent video games a person plays, the more aggressive he or she is in real life, and that people with aggressive personalities are more vulnerable to the influence of violent video games.

"Video games teach kids how to be violent, reward them for that violence and demonstrate that violence has no negative consequences," said Dill. "This generation of children is being schooled in the art of violence by a private tutor, while parents remain unaware of the problem."