SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS Tables
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YOUTH CULTURE AND VIOLENCE
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
MAY 13, 1999
Serial No. 20
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
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HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
JAMES E. ROGAN, California
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
MARY BONO, California
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., General Counsel-Chief of Staff
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
May 13, 1999
Hyde, Hon. Henry J., a Representative in Congress from the State of Illinois, and chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
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Celmer, Carly, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, Miami, FL
Cornell, Dewey G., professor of clinical psychology, University of Virginia
Daniels, Michelle D., Banneker High School, Washington, DC
Eberly, Don, director, The Civil Society Project, and chairman and CEO, National Fatherhood Institute
Grossman, Lt. Colonel Dave, professor of psychology, Arkansas State University
Hearne, Donna, executive director, The Constitutional Coalition
Mankin, David, president, National Association of School Resources Officers
Medved, Michael, film critic, author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host
Phillips Taylor, Byrl, gun control and victims advocate
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Pick, Brian, Maine South High School, Park Ridge, IL
Rice Hughes, Donna, vice president, marketing and public relations, Enough is Enough
Valenti, Jack, chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.
Woodson, Robert, Sr., president, National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Chabot, Hon. Steve, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio: Prepared statement
Cornell, Dewey G., professor of clinical psychology, University of Virginia: Prepared statement
Daniels, Michelle D., Banneker High School, Washington, DC: Prepared statement
Eberly, Don, director, The Civil Society Project, and chairman and CEO, National Fatherhood Institute: Prepared statement
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Grossman, Lt. Colonel Dave, professor of psychology, Arkansas State University: Prepared statement
Hearne, Donna, executive director, The Constitutional Coalition: Prepared statement
Mankin, David, president, National Association of School Resources Officers: Prepared statement
Medved, Michael, film critic, author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host: Prepared statement
Phillips Taylor, Byrl, gun control and victims advocate: Prepared statement
Pick, Brian, Maine South High School, Park Ridge, IL: Prepared statement
Rice Hughes, Donna, vice president, marketing and public relations, Enough is Enough: Prepared statement
Valenti, Jack, chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.: Prepared statement
Woodson, Robert, Sr., president, National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise: Prepared statement
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YOUTH CULTURE AND VIOLENCE
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 1999
House of Representatives,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Henry J. Hyde (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Henry J. Hyde, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Bill McCollum, George W. Gekas, Howard Coble, Lamar S. Smith of Texas, Elton Gallegly, Charles T. Canady, Ed Bryant, Steve Chabot, Bob Barr, Asa Hutchinson, Edward A. Pease, Chris Cannon, James E. Rogan, Mary Bono, John Conyers, Jr., Howard L. Berman, Jerrold Nadler, Robert C. Scott, Melvin L. Watt, Zoe Lofgren, Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, Martin T. Meehan, William D. Delahunt, Steven R. Rothman, Tammy Baldwin, and Anthony D. Weiner.
Staff present: Thomas E. Mooney, Sr., general counsel-chief of staff; Jon Dudas, deputy general counsel-staff director; Diana Schacht, deputy staff director-chief counsel; Daniel M. Freeman, parliamentarian-counsel; Joseph Gibson, chief counsel; Rick Filkins, counsel; Sharee Freeman, counsel; Steve Pinkos, counsel; Sheila F. Klein, executive assistant to general counsel; Patrick Prisco, assistant to the deputy general counsel-staff director; Michele Utt, administrative assistant; Samuel F. Stratman, communications director; James B. Farr, financial clerk; Sharon L. Hammersla, computer systems coordinator; Shawn Friesen, staff assistant/clerk; Michael Connolly, press assistant; Patricia Katyoka, research assistant; Ray Smietanka, chief counsel, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law; Cathy Cleaver, chief counsel, Subcommittee on the Constitution; Bradley Clanton, counsel, Subcommittee on the Constitution; Paul J. McNulty, chief counsel, Subcommittee on Crime; Glenn R. Schmitt, counsel, Subcommittee on Crime; Daniel J. Bryant, counsel, Subcommittee on Crime; Julian Epstein, minority chief counsel and staff director; Perry Apelbaum, minority general counsel; Sampak P. Garg, minority counsel; Samara Ryder, minority counsel; and Ted Kalo, minority counsel.
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OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN HYDE
Mr. HYDE. The committee will come to order, if our guests could take their seats.
The recent violent assault by two teenagers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, both saddens and alarms us. It is another example of the carnage caused by some of our Nation's children. Most troubling, this saga of terror is not an isolated incident. Similar tragedies have occurred at other schools across the Nation. In addition, we have violence perpetuated by and against our children outside of the classroom daily.
Today the Judiciary Committee meets to conduct its first hearing to examine issues related to youth culture and violence. Our hearing today will focus on the causes of what has been called a culture of death. We will have additional hearings in the near future to discuss potential solutions to some of the problems that may be identified today. Today we ask why, why is this senseless violence occurring in classrooms and on the streets around the country? Why are our children so cavalierly taking the lives of others? What influences their behavior?
Some people point to the near saturation level of violence in the movies our kids flock to and ask whether movies and TV programs that display extreme violence anesthetize the moral sensibilities of both adults and teenagers. Others criticize the violent nature of video and computer games that allow kids to simulate killing, and ask whether violent video games that glorify death desensitize our youth and lead to violent behavior.
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Furthermore, concerns have been raised about easily accessible information on the Internet that can be corrupting and dangerous, including web sites and chat rooms that provide explosive-making instructions and expose children to inflammatory rhetoric and violent philosophies. Of course we are all disturbed by illegal possession and proliferation and the use of firearms by the underaged.
Many have raised the issue of parental responsibility, and have asked to what extent the lack of parental control and attention contribute to the reason children become immersed in violence. Are latchkey children or children in one-parent households more susceptible to violent influences? Does society, including our schools, need to do a better job of teaching and enforcing morality and ethics and the simple difference between right and wrong? How do you do that?
Our culture has changed, and to ensure our children's future, we need to address these problems and quickly. We are still a great Nation and we can accomplish much together. We will hear from a number of witnesses today who can speak to us with expertise to this wide range of issues.
We will also listen to four high school students from cities and suburbs who will lend us their insights into teenage society and what is actually going on in their schools and what life is like for them and their peers outside the classroom.
The tragedy at Columbine High School and the ongoing carnage on our inner streets present us with a complicated cultural moment and an important opportunity to thoughtfully search for and examine the root causes of a crisis among our young and our failure as adults to effectively cope with it.
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However, the purpose of the hearing today is not to blame any one group or industry or find a scapegoat for the Columbine massacre. To do so would be shortsighted and irresponsible. This does not mean that there are not important questions of accountability and responsibility involved here. Everyone dealing with children, whether it is parents raising them, companies marketing to them or schools educating them, should evaluate how their work may be contributing to the problem of youth violence.
In addition, today's hearing is not designed to lead to a quick conclusion or to new Federal legislation or regulations. New Federal laws or programs may or may not ultimately be helpful. We should resist the temptation to rush legislation in an attempt to score political points, because this spiritual emptiness and disenchantment among America's youth defies simple and politically expedient explanations.
This debate is not about politics. Rather, it is about the important dialogue that we should all engage in to try to come to grips with the nature of the culture in which our children are being raised and its relationship to the propensity of some children, and I emphasize some, to commit terrible acts of violence.
If the future means anything to us, then our children should mean everything to us. The children of America are our future and all of us, mothers, fathers, grandparents, educators, politicians, have a vital interest in their health and prosperity. I personally look forward to a direct and civil discussion today in working together with our colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, casting aside political differences and predispositions, as we open our hearts and minds to this critical problem.
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And I am pleased to yield to Mr. Conyers, the ranking minority member.
Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Chairman Hyde. This is an important hearing, and I am glad that it has been called. I look forward to working with you and the members of the committee.
No one claims that there is a single solution to the problem of school and youth violence. As much as I want to hear from everyone, this opportunity gives me a chance to say this. We are not funding the programs that would help young people or that would help the families of young people that are in need of help or give signals of cries for relief.
In other words, this could be a hearing in which we go into a lot of important and interesting things, but in the end I have got a list of a half dozen programs that are being zero funded that would help kids, that would help schools, that would help communities. And so I want to lay some of this responsibility at the doorstep of Congress right from the beginning.
I notice Robert Woodson is with us again for the umpteenth time, and Henry Hyde and myself have gone out to visit some of the really positive work that they have been doing. You could call it a miracle; but, you know, if anybody else had been doing that, the same result probably would have occurred. What we need are people that have an understanding and a commitment to work with young people, and that has got to go not only throughout the communities and the schools, but into all levels of government as well.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, no one claims that there are single solutions, but we know that there are many prongs to the solution. We need better prevention and earlier intervention programs. Our game and entertainment industries have a role, and we need to stop the easy access to automatic and other weapons which in many cases makes it easier for kids to get firearms than it is to get fast food.
Now, let me raise the second thing that I want you to be thinking about as we listen to you today. The access to guns by young people is what distinguishes the homicide rate of young people in America, which is high, from the homicide rates of young people in other industrial societies, which is comparably low. In other words, the access question cannot be avoided. Many times the children are looking at the same kinds of violence and cultural things that I would consider negative, but there is no access to a gun so you don't have the 13 kids every day that die because of handgun deaths in America, whereas it is much lower in other places.
Director Rob Reiner has been telling us about the critical first years of children when violent proclivities of infants are first developed.
The Rand Institute has told us that prevention programs are cost effective, and we have been trying to institute them in legislation for a better part of a decade, sometimes with strong opposition from Members in the Congress.
Now, that brings me to point three, and that is it is great to have all of these outside organizations talking about nonviolence, but the fact of the matter is if you are a youngster living in a home where there is violence, you are getting the wrong kind of training. And one of the things, one of these prongs of the solution is to reduce the violence in homes. Spousal violence is very, very important in terms of a reduction program to make things happen.
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Hollywood and the game industry have to do more. The gratuitous violence and smut and gore can be reduced.
Now, every day in America 13 youngsters are killed in homicides with guns. 4,463 young people are killed by firearms in a year. 2,800 were murdered and the rest were either suicides or deaths in unintentional shootings.
The rate of firearm death in America is 12 times higher than all other industrial nations combined, because kids can get guns, like the TECDC9 used in the Columbine tragedy. In many instances the availability is shocking. Maybe we will hear something about that today.
Because of that, the epidemic of gun violence, I have introduced President Clinton's bill to reduce youth access to firearms and promote safety by raising the age of youth handgun ban from 18 to 21, to ban juvenile possession of semiautomatic assault rifles and to require the Brady background check for purchases at gun shows. These are small but common sense measures that are important in stemming the availability of firearms. And I know that many Members, including the chairman, have been willing to support modest gun safety measures in the past, and I look forward to working with you in the future on these as well. It is my hope, therefore, that we can do that.
Now just yesterday in the Senate the National Rifle Association helped shoot down modest Senate proposals to close the Brady loopholes at the gun shows. So our work is cut out for us. These are critical issues that face everybody, but in the African-American communities it is much, much worse. The violence and the problems of guns are particularly pernicious. For every high-profile suburban shooting, there are 10 or 20 in our inner cities across America. And unless we take action quickly, we risk losing an entire generation to gun violence.
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So I thank everybody that is here, and I look forward to all of the testimony from our young witnesses. Thank you, Chairman Hyde.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Conyers.
We will forego opening statements from the other members. If you have one, it will be printed in the record at this point without objection, but you will all have 5 minutes to question each of the witnesses when they are finished testifying, and perhaps you can employ that time to make whatever statements you wish.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Chabot follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. STEVE CHABOT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing in such a timely manner.
On April 20, 1 was sitting in this very room when I received word of the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. I was deeply saddened that this type of tragedy could occur yet again. When I went back to my office that afternoon, the television footage I watched struck me as surreal. The next day we were told the sad news that 12 teenagers and one teacher lay dead.
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As we learn more and more of the details of that dayabout the cold blooded nature of the killings and the 60 bombs found in the school and at the homes of Eric Harris and Dylan KleboldWe are left wondering: How did this happen? How did no one see this coming? And why did the anger of these two boys go unnoticed and untreated?
But the most profound question we can ask about that day is the one we have come here to address todayHow did we as a society create a culture in which these types of incidents are becoming tragically commonplace?
Do we blame movie makers? Video games? Violent music? Gun manufacturers? Can we blame the lack of religion in the life of so many of our young people, and the lack of basic morals instruction in our nation's classrooms? Or can we look even closer to home to Parents, siblings and peers?
As a parent of two adolescents, I understand that the moral and emotional well being of my children is my primary responsibility. My wife and I have tried to teach our kids right from wrong, and ingrain in them a sense of responsibility for their actions. There certainly is no substitute for responsible and attentive parenting. All the societal influences I just mentioned become ancillary when children are raised with clear expectations, boundaries and rules.
The truth is, no one really knows for sure what happened in the lives of these young people to turn them into killers. But I suspect that no one person or group is to blame. The likely answer lies in a myriad of factors all interacting in just the precise way at just the right time to create a profound tragedy.
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I grieve for the families of the Littleton victims as well as those Killed in Jonesboro, Paducah, Springfield and Pearl, Mississippi. How could life have gone so tragically wrong for these people?
Nationally we are faced with staggering statistics. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 1997, there were 2,500 juveniles (ages 17 and younger) arrested for murder. That represents a 90% increase from 1986. Additionally, 2,100 juveniles were murdered in 1997. 2,100 young people killed. Our nation's youth are now among the most likely to fall victim to violent crimescrimes often committed by their peers in our nation's schools.
We are faced in this nation with an epidemic of youth violenceone which we must confront head on. But we should also not lose sight of the fact that an overwhelming majority of our children are good kids who go to school to learn, make friends and participate in positive activities.
Thank you Mr. Chairman; I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HYDE. Today we are fortunate to have three outstanding high school students with us to share their perspective on life as teenagers today. We greatly appreciate all of you joining us.
First is Brian Pick, a senior at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Next is Michelle Daniels, a junior at Banneker High School in Washington.
Third, we will hear from Carly Celmer, an 18-year-old senior at our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami, Florida.
If you would use about 5 minutes for your statement, and your written statement will be made a part of the record, and we will have an opportunity to ask you questions. Mr. Pick, please proceed. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF BRIAN PICK, MAINE SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL, PARK RIDGE, IL
Mr. PICK. Thank you. Good morning.
Teen violence is an extremely important topic, and I thank you for making it part of a national conversation. Allow me to paint a picture of what high school culture is like at my school.
The halls of Maine South are filled with a vast array of people: athletes, actors, scholars, technology whizzes, and more. Unfortunately, this wide scope of people itself can lead to an act of violence. As a result of stereotypes and prejudice, violence between different groups is an imminent danger.
While Maine South does not harbor much gang activity, it is home to several groups of students that choose to dress and express themselves uniquely. These groups give the teens a sense of belonging and control when it is lacking in their lives. An acceptance and tolerance of these groups needs to be stressed to all students at an early age.
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In regards to the causes of violence, there are many factors which must be considered. We would be remiss to signify only one. The media plays an important role, but not an overly dominating role in the cause of youth violence.
My fellow students have expressed concern about the large amount of attention given to the perpetrators of the Colorado tragedy. They fear that students who are seeking attention will view violence as a quick and easy way of gaining the spotlight. This plea for attention is often a result of poor self-image and a desire to fit in caused by isolation, neglect and peer pressure.
Last Friday Maine South held an all-school assembly. The previous Tuesday a student threatened to bring a gun to the assembly. Our school officials responded by contacting the police, and the situation was controlled. In addition, a dozen police officers attended the assembly to assure our safety. However, over a hundred students did not attend, as their parents called them out.
Other factors influencing violence include a history of misconduct, a desire for rebellion, and a lack of positive role models. In addition, guns must be kept out of teens' hands. A school is no place for a weapon.
I am relieved to say that not many guns have been found in Maine South, but about 2 months ago a student did bring a gun to school, given to him by his grandfather. He brought it to school to show it off to his friends. Fortunately, one student who saw the weapon had the good sense to report it to the deans. The student who brought the unloaded gun was reported to the police and suspended from school. This event created both a fear and a heightened awareness in many students and faculty.
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My school has several programs to both prevent and deal with problems. First, a group called Peers Reaching Out consists of trained peer counselors who help freshmen and transfer students in their transition to high school. This group also acts as a watch group for potential problems.
In addition, we have a peer mediation program where a peer counselor facilitates a discussion between two opposing parties to peacefully resolve a conflict. Furthermore, we just began a program called Project Connect where students are paired with faculty mentors.
In regards to security, our school requires all students, staff, and faculty to wear identification cards around their neck at all times. While the immediate transition to this policy was challenging, it now works well and school officials can identify who belongs in the school and who does not. In addition, Maine South hires two security guards and places faculty at all unmanned entrances.
Moreover, this year a school spirit program called Hawk Pride was established to foster a sense of community through the pillars of purpose, respect, integrity, dignity and empathy.
Both parents and schools need to assure the safety of students. Giving the subject perspective, Pete Blauvelt states we must ''never lose track of the fact that the vast majority of students are good kids, trying their hardest to get through a period called adolescence.''
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In conclusion, it is extremely important that schools admit that conditions do exist for problems to arise and recognize that school violence needs to be addressed. I agree with Ronald Stephens, director of the National School Safety Center, who states that it should not require an act of courage for parents to send their children to school.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pick follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BRIAN PICK, MAINE SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL, PARK RIDGE, IL
Teen violence is an extremely important topic and I thank you for making it part of the national conversation. Allow me to paint a picture of high school culture at my school.
The halls of Maine South are filled with a vast array of people: athletes, actors, scholars, technology-whizzes, and more. This wide scope of students itself can lead to a violent act. As a result of stereotypes or prejudice, violence between different groups is an imminent danger. While Maine South does not harbor much gang activity, it is home to several groups of students that choose to dress and express themselves uniquely. These groups give teens a sense of belonging and control when both are lacking in their lives. An acceptance and tolerance of these groups needs to be stressed to all students at an early age.
In regards to the causes of violent acts, many factors must considered. We would be remiss to signify only one influence. The media plays an important but not an overly dominating role in the cause of youth violence. My fellow students have expressed concern about the large amount of attention given to the perpetrators of the recent Colorado tragedy. They fear that students who are seeking attention will view violence as a quick and easy way of gaining the spotlight. This plea for attention is a result of a poor self-image and a desire to fit-in, caused by isolation, neglect and peer pressure. Last Friday, Maine South held an all-school assembly. The previous Tuesday, a student threatened to bring a gun to the assembly. Our school officials responded by contacting the police and the situation was controlled. A dozen police officers attended the assembly to assure our safety, however over a hundred students did not attend, as their parents called them out.
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Other factors influencing violence include a history of misconduct, a desire for rebellion, and a lack of positive role models. In addition, guns must be kept out of teens handsa school is no place for a weapon. I am relieved to say that not many guns have been found at Maine South, but about two months ago, a student did bring a gun to school. Given to him by his grandfather, he brought it to school to show it off to his friends. Fortunately, one student who saw the weapon had the good sense to report it to the deans. The student who brought the unloaded gun was reported to the police and suspended from school. This event created both a fear and a heightened awareness in many students and faculty.
My school has several programs to both prevent and deal with problems. First, a group called Peers Reaching Out consists of trained peer counselors who help freshman and transfer students in their transition to Maine South. This group also acts as a watch-group for potential problems. In addition, we have a peer mediation program where a peer counselor facilitates a discussion between two opposing parties to peacefully resolve a conflict. Furthermore, we just began a program called project connect where students are paired with faculty mentors.
In regards to security, our school requires all students, staff, and faculty to wear identification cards at all times. While the immediate transition to this policy was challenging, it now works well and allows school official to identify who belongs in the school and who does not. In addition, Maine South hires two security guards and places faculty at all unlocked entrances. Moreover, this year a school spirit program called Hawk Pride was established to foster a sense of community through the pillars of Purpose, Respect, Integrity, Dignity, and Empathy. Finally, our school provides a vast offering of extracurricular activities that appeal to a wide variety of interests, allowing many students to become involved.
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Parents also play an integral role in preventing school violence. All parents should take a greater interest in their teen. They need to be involved in the school and they need to support the school's disciplinary code. Finally, parents should both talk to and listen to their teens, telling them that violence is not an answer to their problems.
In turn, schools need to provide an active student component by allowing input from students on a variety of subjects including safety. This provides an outlet for teens and a sense of control. In addition, schools need far more counselors, my school has over two thousand students but only one social worker, one psychologist, and seven counselors. Furthermore, schools should work closely with local police taking threats and warning signs seriously. Finally, I believe schools should work with the community through service programs and interaction with adults, children, and senior citizens.
Giving the subject perspective, author Pete Blauvelt states that, we must ''Never lose track of the fact that the vast majority of students are good kids, trying their hardest to get through a period called adolescence.'' The media should stress the positive achievements of students as much as, if not more, than the negative.
Personally, I do feel safe at school, but unfortunately this security can be breached anywhere and anytime. In conclusion, it is extremely important that schools admit that conditions do exist for problems to arise and recognize that school violence needs to be addressed. I agree with Ronald Stephens, director of the National School Safety Center, who states that, ''It should not require an act of courage for parents to send their children to school.''
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for allowing me to address the committee.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you. You should have gotten a little more time with the interruption, but thank you.
STATEMENT OF MICHELLE D. DANIELS, BANNEKER HIGH SCHOOL, WASHINGTON, DC
Ms. DANIELS. Good morning. My name is Michelle Daniels.
Mr. HYDE. Can we turn up the volume, Sam? We are going to see if we can get the volume turned up. Well, if you can just kind of speak up, some engineer is working on it somewhere.
Ms. DANIELS. My name is Michelle Daniels, and I would like to take this time to thank you for inviting me to speak out about youth violence. It is very tragic, what happened in Columbine, but within my community violence is an everyday thing.
I am a 19-year-old senior attending Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, and I am very active within my community. I am presently a member of a community organization called CAYA, which stands for Community Alliance for Youth Action. This organization brings together young people from different schools to solve the problems within their communities, especially issues related to environment, improving education and reducing violence.
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I am very lucky in that the school I attend is extremely safe. As a matter of fact, I feel safer in school than I do on my own front porch. Violence in my neighborhood has increased dramatically over the past 2 years. Just last year a group of my friends and I were sitting on the front porch when all of a sudden a car pulled up and a guy with a shotgun came out and pointed it in our direction. Everyone ran and no one was hurt. Last fall I saw a young teenager right outside my house who wasn't so lucky. He died from a gunshot to the head while riding his bike.
These are just two examples of the dozens that occur every day. Don't get me wrong. Not all youth in my community are living their lives violently. There are still many young people like myself who are looking to make a bright future for themselves and our families.
With our lives surrounded by violence, it is no wonder youth today, especially youth of color, feel abandoned by their parents, their communities and especially by their government. We feel as though you have given up on us and that our lives are not worth living.
When you have grown up around violence, it is likely to consume you and become a way of life. When Bobby has a gun, and Susan has a gun, and Mary has a gun, your thought is that I have to have a gun, too. It is an arms race similar to the one that the U.S. and the Soviet Union once had.
You ask why there is so much youth violence. Well, when you look around at the lack of job opportunities, the lack of educational opportunities, the lack of parental guidance, and the lack of resources for youth programs, and see the abundance of guns, the abundance of drugs, the abundance of poverty, the abundance of violence committed by the adults around us, tell me where are the positive choices for youth today?
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To me, there are clear connections between what is lacking in my community, opportunities and places for young people to go, and what is not lacking, poverty, guns and drugs. What is needed is so clear to me that it makes me wonder if society or even the government just doesn't care about myself and my friends.
I am sick and tired of hearing gunshots. I am sick and tired of seeing gun violence. I am sick and tired of being a prisoner in my own home. I do not know where to buy guns, but I know by the gunshots I hear and what other youth say that it is pretty easy to get a gun.
I have done some research and found that every year since 1989, gun manufacturers and importers introduce an average of 3.5 million new guns into the U.S. market. My question is, why are these guns flooding my community? Someone knows the answer to these questions, but I am not going to sit and wait for the answer to fall in my lap. As a member of CAYA's Student Action Network, I am a part of a group conducting a survey to help find out the causes and impact of youth violence in cities. Armed with the facts and information, we are going to take a stand and take action against guns and violence in our city.
The level of violence that exists today deeply concerns me. Youth are looking for a way out, but they are finding that there is no way out. Youth are looking for heroes, but they are only finding critics. Youth are looking for a positive way to go, but they are finding that there is no way out.
Let me tell you what concerns me even more than what is happening to my generation. I am so afraid of the impact that violence is having on the next generation, my little brothers and my friends' little brothers and sisters. I try to teach my younger brothers and show them that violence is not the answer, but when they turn on the TV and see their own government is using violence to solve their problems, they think it is all right.
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What kind of mixed messages are we sending to the next generation? What kind of vision are we giving them? Without a vision, people perish. We are looking for an answer, and find that there is no way out. Like Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ''Violence is anything that denies human integrity and leads to hopelessness and helplessness.''
When we look around and see that funding for education is being cut and new prisons are popping up everywhere, we feel like you are abandoning us. When we look for guidance and see violence, we feel like you are abandoning us. I hope it is not too late. I hope that my generation can find an answer, a way out of this cycle and this arms race. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you very much, Michelle. That was a very helpful statement.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Daniels follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MICHELLE D. DANIELS, BANNEKER HIGH SCHOOL, WASHINGTON, DC
Good morning, my name is Michelle Daniels and I would like to take this time to thank you for inviting me to speak out about Youth Violence. It is very tragic what happened in Columbine but within my community, violence is an everyday thing. I am a 19 year old senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School and I am very active within my community. I am presently a member of a community organization called CAYA, which stands for Community Alliance for Youth Action. This organization brings together young people from different schools to solve the problems of their communities, especially issue related to the environment, improving education and reducing violence.
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I am very lucky in that the school I attend is extremely safe. As a matter of fact I feel safer in school than I do on my own front porch. Violence in my neighborhood has increased dramatically over the past two years. Just last year, a group of my friends and I were sitting on my front porch when all of a sudden a car pulled up and a guy got out with a gun and pointed it in our direction. We ran and no one was hurt. Last fall, I saw a young teenager right outside my house that wasn't so lucky. He died from a gunshot to the head while riding his bike.
These are just two examples among the dozens that occur everyday. Don't get me wrong. Not all youth in my community are living their lives violently. There are still many young people, like myself, who are looking to make a bright future for themselves and their families.
With our lives surrounded by violence, its no wonder youth today, especially youth of color, feel abandoned by their parents, their communities, and especially by their government. We feel as though you have given up on us, that we are not valuable or that our lives are not worth living. When you have grown up around violence, it is likely to consume you and become a way of life. When Bobby has a gun, and Susan has a gun and Mary has a gun, your thought is that I have to get a gun too. It's an arms race similar to the one the US and the Soviet Union once had.
You ask why there is so much youth violence? Well, when you look around at the lack of job opportunities, the lack of educational opportunities, the lack of parental guidance the lack of resources for youth programs. And see the abundance of guns, the abundance of drugs, the abundance of poverty, the abundance of violence committed by the adults around us, tell me where are the positive choices for youth today? To me, there are clear connections between what is lacking in my communityopportunities and places for young people to goand what is not lackingpoverty, guns and drugs. What is needed is so clear to me, that it makes me wonder if society or even the government just doesn't care about my friends and myself.
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I am sick and tired of hearing gunshots. I am sick and tired of seeing gun violence. I am sick and tired of being a prisoner in my own home. I do not know where to buy guns but I know by the gunshots I hear and what other youth say, that it is pretty easy to get guns. I have done some research and found that every year since 1989, gun manufacturers and importers introduce an average of 3.5 million new guns into the U.S. market. My question is why are these guns flooding my community? Someone knows the answer to this question, but I am not going to sit around and wait for the answer to fall in my lap. As a member of CAYA's Student Action Network, I am apart of a group conducting a survey to find out what are the causes and impact of youth violence in this city. Armed with the facts and information, we are going to take a stand and take action against guns and violence in our city.
The level of violence affecting young people today deeply concerns me. Youth are looking for a way to solve their problems but are turning to guns and violence as the solution. Youth are looking for community centers but are only finding prisons. Youth are looking for heroes but are only finding critics. Youth are looking for a positive way to go, but are finding that there is no way out.
Let me tell you what concerns me even more than what's happening to my generation. I am so afraid of the impact this violence is having on the next generationmy little brothers and my friends little brothers and sisters. I try to teach my younger brothers and show them that violence is not the answer; but when they turn on the TV and see their own government using violence to solve its problems, they think it is all right. What kind of mixed messages are we sending to the next generation? What kind of vision are we giving them?
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Without a vision people perish. We are looking for an answer and finding that there is no way out. Like Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ''Violence is anything that denies human integrity, and leads to hopelessness and helplessness.'' When we look around and see that funding for education is being cut and new prisons are popping up everywhere, we feel like you are abandoning us. When we look for guidance and see violence, we feel like you are abandoning us. I hope it is not too late. I hope that my generation can find an answer; a way out of this cycle and this arms race.
Mr. HYDE. Now, Carly Celmer.
STATEMENT OF CARLY CELMER, OUR LADY OF LOURDES ACADEMY, MIAMI, FL
Ms. CELMER. Good morning, Mr. Chairman. It is an honor to be here today. My name is Carly Celmer and I am here from Miami, Florida.
Although I am currently a student at a private high school, most of my education was in Miami's public schools. I am still closely connected to the public school system because I am the chairperson of Miami-Dade County's Teen Court and an attorney-advocate for students accused of first time misdemeanors. It is because of my dual experiences that I can see the similarities in all students, regardless of public or private schools, urban or suburban neighborhoods.
First Lady Hillary Clinton's words, ''it takes a village to raise a child,'' are apparent in America because today's children are taking on the characteristics of the role models provided by society, and schools have become microcosms of society itself. The levels of violence in entertainment and the media, as well as the lack of respect for others, have created a pressure-cooker environment where teenagers are screaming for attention.
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Today's society provides a whirlpool of entertainment and information which desensitizes teenagers and even society in general to violence. Through popular movies such as ''Scream'' and ''Halloween'' and video games like ''Mortal Combat,'' teenagers not only have become immune to the negative, hateful behaviors of people, but actually invite and even favor violence that is done out of revenge or as payback for ridicule.
Even the media gives front page notoriety to the teenager who commits a crime, and either buries or ignores the stories about teenagers who excel either academically or through volunteerism. It seems that the only way to make page one or the evening news is to do something wrong, not right.
A second problem in all schools is the blatant lack of respect for authority or other students. In many Miami schools, threats are made to the faculty and administration. Detentions and suspensions are laughed at, and many teachers avoid giving punishments in fear of retaliation. Many students don't see their schools as a safe family environment, but rather one where classrooms are locked during class, panic buttons are placed in classrooms, and students' property is stolen by their peers.
Schools have created an environment of extremes ranging from brains to brutes, and polarizing kids in one or the other category. Unfortunately, the kids who fall in between not only lack identity with either group, but become the brunt of both groups' insecurities and harassment.
The greatest problem that I have seen, however, lies not in the issue of public versus private education but rather in the establishment of a bureaucratic versus a communal environment in our schools. Schools are housing more students than they should be, and as a result teachers do not know their students' names, students do not know their principal and they do not know the administration. Students do not even know each other.
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Although many new schools are being built to house larger numbers of students, this satisfies the safety regulations, but not the students who still remain anonymous. Cliques and feelings of loneliness are inevitable when a school's population grows into the thousands. Teenagers cannot develop a sense of self-esteem when they float through 4 years of high school either unrecognized or unappreciated.
The need to be noticed and accepted is what leads students to join gangs, cliques who then form their own identity. Unfortunately, drugs, guns and extreme clothing is what gets noticed. It is the average nonathletic kid who makes up the majority of students that become invisible and interchangeable to peers and faculty and administration unless they do something drastic to get themselves recognized.
If it really takes a community to raise a child, then America's media, entertainment industry, and political and educational leaders better decide what type of microcosm they want to create in their schools. Today there are more opportunities for teenagers to get respect by buying a gun than there are for teenagers to find self-respect in many of our schools.
If America really wants her schools to act ''in loco parentis,'' then she must create an educational environment where people know and respect each other and a society where kids have more accessibility to computers than handguns. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you very much, Carly. We will now entertain questions, and I would ask the members of the committee to hold themselves down to 5 minutes because we have a very big panel following these young people and we want to get to them, too. Let me say this: All of you made excellent statements and made a big contribution to where we are headed.
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Mr. CONYERS. I am not going to use my time for questions, but Donnie Ray of Cardoza High School is on the way or maybe outside, so if anybody sees him, let's get him inside. He was supposed to have been a witness.
Let me justnow that I have said that I am not going to ask any questions, let me just ask each of you for a couple of ideas of what you would like us to do. This isyour statements are excellent, but let's leave us with some good impressions of exactly where you would like us to be headed after this hearing today.
Mr. PICK. I know that my school has 2,000 kids. We only have seven counselors, one social worker and one pyschologist. This number of support people just doesn't seem to fit the large number of students. When a counselor only sees a student for 10 minutes one time each semester, there is no relationship made. So we need that kind of support system in our schools.
Mr. CONYERS. Excellent. Thank you. Ms. Celmer?
Ms. CELMER. The main problem is the size of the schools. Even if you hire more administration, for example Braddock High School, it can house 5,000 students, but the fact is there are so many students, there are no relationships being formed. The average student doesn't have the same classes with the other average students. It is only the honor or lower level students that actually see the same people throughout the day.
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I believe we need smaller schools. First you should be making sure that schools are not overcrowded and they don't have twice the population that they are supposed to have.
Mr. CONYERS. I think the educational authorities have agreed that they made a mistake building all of these humongous high schools. That is an excellent suggestion. I thank you both.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Conyers.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I am curious about one thing in particular. When we have focus groups of parents who have children in school, the number one thing that they say is the problem with the school or the education is the lack of discipline. I don't know what they mean by that, and I usually ask questions about what they mean.
I am curious as to what you think as students. Is there a lack of discipline in the schools? If there is, what is the solution to that problem, and does it bear on all of this?
Mr. PICK. To address that, I think one of the things that you have to look at, they have all of these codes and rules in place, all these policies, but are they really being enforced? Are people following through? Are teachers following through on these policies? Because once they do not follow through on the policy, the students lose that respect for adult authority. And along with not only schools supporting the codes, the parents need to realize the discipline code and support it as well.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Michelle, what do you think?
Ms. DANIELS. Okay, I think that the students may need to try to be more obedient to their teachers, because it seems as though like students go to school and play and the teachers try to set guidelines and they are not following them. The students need to learn how to behave themselves in school.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Carly, what about you?
Ms. CELMER. In the Miami-Dade County Public School system, it takes so much work or effort to discipline a student that the students know that the teacher is not going to follow through with it. A teacher threatens detention, but when the bell rings the student walks out of class and they never get their detention, or the student retaliates. I know where a student threw a desk at his teacher, and teachers are in such fear of this happening they would rather not waste their time. The teachers are scared of their students. And the roles have to be reversed. Students have to be scared of their teachers.
I am tired of seeing students feel that they control their teachers, and they do. They control the security guards as well. Fights break out in the hallways, and the security guards walk the other way because there might be a knife in the fight, or they don't want to have to fill out paperwork if they have to take someone to the office. Somehow we have to make the administration have the students respect them.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I am going to change the subject completely and ask each of you to comment on the subject that a lot of people will be talking about today, and that is the Internet, and the video games, violence, and pornography that is there. Do you surf the Internet? Do your friends spend a lot of time with that and video games? How much do you think violence in this regard is a factor?
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Mr. PICK. I think the Internet plays a very important role, and whatever we do now to control it would be beneficial. One way to do that is to secure it so that only adults get onto these sites. If a student can accessyou can write in ''bomb making'' on a word search, and you will get a couple of thousand hits for it. Whether or not you need to have an adult verification system with a credit card number or something to that effect, I think that would be most beneficial.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Michelle, what do you think about the Internet and video games?
Ms. DANIELS. My little brothers, they are always playing video games, and they look at TV and a violent TV show, and my little brother runs and pulls out his toy gun. It is like it is becoming a way of their lives because that is all they see on TV and the video games and everything like that. So I think the video games have a great deal to do with this.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Carly, what about you?
Ms. CELMER. I don't understand why I can't buy certain music because of the explicit lyrics, but at the same time I can go buy a video game where I rip someone's heart out of their body. I think we need to be consistent with the limitations.
Movies, I know that there are certain movie theaters where you can see whatever you want and they are never going to ID you. And at the same time there are movie theaters that are very strict and you don't see any teenagers watching ''Scream''. And I think that is what we need to be enforcing, is the restrictions.
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I am a huge advocate of the first amendment and I don't like the limitations on the Internet, but at the same time we can place limitations on entertainment because that is not for our learning environment, to play a video game. I think there should be restrictions placed on these, and the second thing is that they have to be enforced.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you very much. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Berman.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
You have all given us a lot to think about. Just in looking over the testimony, I would like to ask Carly Celmer, she says in her testimony, ''Today's society provides a whirlpool of entertainment and information which desensitizes teenagers and even society in general to violence. Through popular movies such as 'Scream' and 'Halloween' and video games like 'Mortal Combat,' teenagers not only have become immune to the negative, hateful behaviors of people, but actually invite and even favor violence that is done out of revenge or as a payback for ridicule.''
As I listen to you, I don't hear a person who is desensitized to violence or is immune from the negative and hateful behaviors. What do you think it is that makes some people desensitized as a result of this but doesn't affect and have an impact on others?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. CELMER. I would like to go back to the days when I turned on the news and I heard someone was shot, and it actually affected me, and now it is just like another person was shot today because that is becoming a problem. Another person was being shot.
And I think that, as I said in my testimony, the newspapers and the media are giving notoriety to the students who kill people and rob stores, but not to the students who are achieving and doing community service. We have to praise more of the good things that teenagers are doing and focus less on all of the negative things that are going on. While they have to be addressed, when all I hear is how people are killing each other, it doesn't even affect me anymore. It doesn't affect me anymore that somebody else has died, and that should not be what we are infiltrating into our students' heads. I think more positive aspects have to be addressed.
Mr. PICK. I don't have anything to address that. The one thing I would add is, I think some of the kids have lost a sense of reality. They don't have a connection to the real world, and when they see these things on television they view them as being okay. That is how the real world works. And if you build relationships, that deters from that effect.
Mr. BERMAN. Say that again?
Mr. PICK. If you build relationships with teachers, friends, counselors, you have that relationship to see how a real relationship works, not a relationship depicted on television.
Ms. CELMER. I know that there is probably nothing that you can do about this, but in entertainment, revenge seems to be such a huge issue. So many students are ridiculed in schools. There are students caught in between two polar extremes. They are the nerd, not the athlete or the bully. They are picked on by both extremes. The ridicule and the revenge that is going on, that is being praised in society, I think it needs to stop because it give teenagers a turning point where if somebody picks on me, I know that I can get back at them in this way.
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Mr. BERMAN. Which way?
Ms. CELMER. If I am being ridiculed and I bring a gun to school, everybody is going to be scared of me and not come near me. Or if I do the same thing they are doing to me, then we are even.
Mr. BERMAN. But you don't bring a gun to school after you have been ridiculed, my guess is?
Ms. CELMER. Fortunately, I haven't been the product of too much ridicule.
Mr. ROGAN. Try running for Congress! [Laughter.]
Mr. BERMAN. I think you have done a good job of deterring it, as well.
Ms. CELMER. But in high schools there is a lot of picking going on. A lot of students are getting locked in bathroom stalls, and their book bags are getting thrown on the floor. They are looking for any means to get back at students doing this to them.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. (Presiding.) Thank you, Mr. Berman.
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Mr. Gekas, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. GEKAS. I thank the chair. Michelle, when you describe the incident of the drive-by, when you were sitting on the porch, were those responsible identified as students from your school or people that you recognized, or were they never really identified?
Ms. DANIELS. They were not identified, and I am not too sure what school they attend. It was neighborhood kids, not from my neighborhood but other neighborhoods, because I haven't seen them in my neighborhood. We were just sitting on the porch, and this car pulls up and he gets out and literally points the gun at everyone. They were hopping over fences and just running, trying to get out of the way.
Mr. GEKAS. Was he of student age?
Ms. DANIELS. Yes.
Mr. GEKAS. But you don't connect him to your school?
Ms. DANIELS. No.
Mr. GEKAS. So this was not related to school activities at all?
Ms. DANIELS. This was just within the community.
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Mr. GEKAS. Carly and Brian and Michelle, one of the problems it seems to me is for students, that they can identify the troubled students or the troublemaker students or both, and then when they do, that perhaps nothing more is done except there is an awareness among the students themselves.
Carly, you are engaged in, or were, in the trial advocate type of thing for people who commit crimes. Do you see young students who commit crimes, whom you defend or whom are adjudged to be guilty, do they repeat their offenses? Are they cured of further trouble or do you keep an eye on them? What happens to these individuals who get into trouble?
Ms. CELMER. In Teen Court it is a first-time misdemeanor, so the first time they are caught with marijuana or they steal something from a clothing department store, they are brought to Teen Court. And from thatthey continue with the Teen Court process. One of the requirements is, once you have gone to court, you are required to do two jury duties. We hope to instill an awareness of other teenagers and what they are going through.
The majority of students committing the first-time misdemeanors, they are being egged on by students older than them. A lot of them went shopping with their older cousin, and they basically ended up taking the blame and going to Teen Court because they are a juvenile.
And I am not sure whether they repeat these offenses, but I do know that almost half of the people who have come to Teen Court for first-time misdemeanors, have returned to Teen Court and have passed the bar association and now are willing to defend or be an attorney advocate for other students committing first-time misdemeanors. A lot of them are simple mistakes.
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Mr. GEKAS. And Brian, I made a note while you were speaking about how schools should work closely with local police, taking threats and warning signs seriously, which I think all of us agree should be a theme for all schools.
Are you saying by implication here that when a threat does come in or some troublesome student threatens others, that sometimes that does not become relayed all of the way to the police authorities?
Mr. PICK. A threat may be made and it may not even get past the teacher who first hears about the threat. It may stop there and the teacher may try to deal with it in some way and that often doesn't suffice. It needs to be passed on to not only the police but the social worker's office.
Mr. GEKAS. Isn't one of the problems to discern whether it is a serious threat or idle threat, so that the discretion of the teacher and the counselor and the principal and the police, that discretion comes in?
Mr. PICK. Yes, plus a lot of things might be minor threats that have built up for months. Those are a series of minor threats that keep getting dismissed and it takes a major threat to get something done, and those minor threats can lead up to violence.
Mr. HYDE. (Presiding.) The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler.
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Mr. NADLER. Thank you very much. I am struck by the testimony of all three of you, and I have a number of questions.
First of all, I am trying to remember in whose testimony I saw a figure that there were seven guidanceI think in Carly Celmer's testimony, you say, ''Cliques and feelings of loneliness are inevitable when a school's population grows into the thousands. Teenagers cannot develop a sense of self-esteem when they float through 4 years of high school either unrecognized or unappreciated. The need to be noticed and accepted is what leads students to join gangs, cliques who then form their own identity.''
How many students are in your high school?
Ms. CELMER. There are 800 students at my private high school.
Mr. NADLER. How many guidance counselors?
Ms. CELMER. Probably five.
Mr. NADLER. If you had gone to the public high school in your area, do you know how many students there are?
Ms. CELMER. 4,600 approximately.
Mr. NADLER. And you wouldn't know any guidance counselors?
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Ms. CELMER. I probably wouldn't even know what they looked like.
Mr. NADLER. Michele, how many students are in your school?
Ms. DANIELS. Four hundred and something.
Mr. NADLER. How many guidance counselors?
Ms. DANIELS. We have five.
Mr. NADLER. Mr. Pick?
Mr. PICK. About 2,100, and seven guidance counselors.
Mr. NADLER. So you have 5 guidance counselor for 800 over here, and over there 7 for 2,100.
Let me ask you a different question. Much of the comment that we have seensome of the comment we saw after Columbine was that these kids who did it, they were obviously maladjusted, that they were picked on all of the time and that no one seemed to care or notice.
Do you think, let me ask the three of you, one after the other, that there is a large problem that ought to be addressed, that teenagers, especially perhaps in larger high schoolsand let me ask you, it was also observed that in suburbs as opposed to cities, there are only two places for youth to congregate, and one is the school and one is the mall, and that is where they spend a lot of their timeand that kids who are not part of the jocks or some other group can often feel very excluded and picked upon, and can be in fact very picked upon, and that no one notices this, and they get very enraged and this rage is bottled up, which can lead to violence. Is this true?
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Ms. CELMER. Fortunately in my high school there are 800 students and there are plenty of teachers. What ends up happening is teachers are a little overprotective. Like if I lose 10 pounds, I have 10 teachers and the guidance counselor telling me that I might be anorexic.
Mr. NADLER. So you have a small school and there is plenty of attention.
Ms. CELMER. If I went to a public school, I could wear a swastika and no one would say anything to me. People reach out for so much attention, and they are still not getting it.
Mr. NADLER. Michelle?
Ms. DANIELS. At Banneker it is very similar. Our guidance counselors and teachers are always concerned about us. They treat us like children.
Mr. NADLER. And you go to a small school?
Ms. DANIELS. Yes.
Mr. NADLER. Brian, you go to a bigger school.
Mr. PICK. You said whether or not people care and notice about these kids. I think they notice, but I am not sureI think they care also, but I don't think there are time and resources.
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Mr. NADLER. That is my question. Are there the resources to do anything about it?
Mr. PICK. And there are 2,000 students and that does cause a problem. How do you fit that into your schedule? How does one social worker fit that in?
Mr. NADLER. You have one social worker for 2,100 kids?
Mr. PICK. Correct, and then another one for the special education department.
Mr. NADLER. Michelle, you say, ''When we look around and see that funding for education is being cut and new prisons are popping up everywhere, we feel like you are abandoning us.'' I would agree with that observation.
I have a question, though. Do you think that lots of high school kids watch State budgets and notice that State funding for education is being cut and new prisons are being built? Are people aware of this in high school?
Ms. DANIELS. They may not know about the stock market, but you can tell in your community that you have nowhere to go. Within my community, I have nowhere to go. The only thing that they have is the streets because we have nowhere to hang out.
Mr. HYDE. The gentleman's time has expired.
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The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Coble.
Mr. COBLE. I want to put questions to each of you three. Brian, you go first, and Michelle and then Carly.
Do you all or your friends find it difficult to gain admittance to R-rated movies when you are underage?
Mr. PICK. It depends on what theater. Again, it is an inconsistency in the enactment of the policy. Some, you know you are never going to have to show ID. They want the money, basically. Other ones, like my local theater, every time you goI tried to get in once, and there was no way that I was getting in.
Ms. DANIELS. You can ask an adult to buy it for you, just get the ticket and you walk in there and get into the movies.
Mr. COBLE. Carly?
Ms. CELMER. In my area, I don't know if anything has changed, but before you could walk into any theater and see any movie you wanted to see. Theaters are cracking down on the age limit now, but it is inconsistent.
Mr. COBLE. Brian, what are the most popular web sites among the kids, A; and, B, do you know what kind of chat rooms are the most popular?
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Mr. PICK. I am not sure that I can address that. The search engines are obviously very popular. We do have a core of computers with Internet access in the library, but there is a service restricter placed on it. On the whole, I think quite a few students use the Internet for the purposes that are beneficial to them, for research and such.
Mr. COBLE. Michelle?
Ms. DANIELS. It is the same thing within my school. We use the Internet to research, and a few students use it to check their hot mail.
Ms. CELMER. There are limitations placed on the Internet access at my school. And at home I would say that the majority of teenagers who sign on line use it for innocent reasons. I am a huge advocate of the Internet, but at the same time I receive tons of pornography in my e-mail, and I delete for 5 minutes before I get to my real mail.
There is so much junk mail on the Internet. I don't know because of first amendment restrictions if there is a way to protect that, but there is a lot of smut on the Internet and there is a lot of website access pages that you don't want to go to and you end up finding yourself in.
Mr. COBLE. Many experts and counselors tell us there is a growing emotional distance between parents and children. Do you all find it easier to engage in dialogue with your peers and your friends or with your parents? And speak for your friends as well.
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Mr. PICK. Personally, I can talk to my friends and my parents. That is my own experience, and that is part of the reason that I got here today to speak to you. But I think that our school has addressed that issue by having peer initiated programs, peer mediators, because it is true, students do talk to their friends more than they talk to adults. And these kinds of programs where students are taught by adults to respond to problems seem to help at our school.
Mr. COBLE. Michelle?
Ms. DANIELS. I can talk to my mom and my peers, but I talk to my mom more than my peers. But for other students, their parents are sometimes not even home for them to even talk to, and so that is a big problem.
Ms. CELMER. I have a great relationship with my teachers, parents and my peers. But the teachers that I have a great relationship with are the ones who get themselves involved. It is not enough for a student to join an activity if the teacher does not have their heart in it.
For example, the ''We the People, the Citizen and the Constitution'' competition, the teachers that are involved in that competition have all of their heart involved in that competition, and those teachers have amazing relationships with their students. And that is what we need more of, these programs where teachers give up so much of their time to students that they share a life with them.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COBLE. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Coble.
The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to thank the students for their very excellent testimony.
I have a couple of questions, one to Ms. Celmer. You mentioned Teen Court. Can you explain why Teen Court is more appropriate for first-time misdemeanors than regular juvenile court?
Ms. CELMER. You are tried by your peers. Before Teen Court was implemented in Miami-Dade County, for example, if I was caught shoplifting I would get a letter in the mail saying I had to do 35 service hours and write an apology essay, and sometimes people get away without doing these service hours.
So when you implement Teen Court, the student has a day that they have to go to court. They have to have someone that they might have gone to elementary school with prosecute them, the same type of person defending them, and an entire jury of their peers. So they are facing a community of very responsible students, and from this they not only have to verbalize what they have done wrong, and at the same time their service hours are enforced, they have to serve at least two jury duties for Teen Court. And the majority of these students end up coming back to Teen Court and passing a bar examination and defending other teenagers who have made mistakes. So it is an amazing process, and it really does get students involved.
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Mr. SCOTT. Have you done any analysis to show whether or not the recidivism rate is less going through Teen Court than juvenile court?
Ms. CELMER. Teen Court only deals with first-time misdemeanors. If they commit another crime, I never see them again. If you join Teen Court, you basically take a pledge that you are never going to create another misdemeanor or another problem again. From this pledge and seeing so many students return and take the bar examination and join the jury duties, I am assuming that they are not doing this again. Otherwise they would be kicked off.
Mr. SCOTT. What is the cost of running a Teen Court?
Ms. CELMER. Dade County has been wonderful. I don't know the cost, but I know that Dade County just donated approximately half a million dollars. Because of this there are so many new people working under Teen Court, and there are hundreds of students calling up to get involved. There is almost an overload of cases because it has been so successful. I know in Tallahassee it is successful as well.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you. Many of you mentioned the isolation. That tends to be one of the recurring themes amongst people who do get in trouble. You mention more counselors. Do you have other suggestions that we might adopt that would reduce the isolation among students?
Ms. CELMER. My suggestion quickly is that we need more schools. It is not good enough to hire more counselors because you still have a humongous building. And no matter how many counselors you have, there is no way that you are going to individually reach every student in that school. I think there have to be more smaller schools built, and we need the faculty in the small schools as well.
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Mr. PICK. To address that, I think we need to look past just athletics as an outlet for after-school activities and extracurriculars. Funds need to be placed into areas like drama, computers, people that are interested in working with computers, all different clubs so that everyone can find something to do that fits their interests.
Ms. DANIELS. Besides programs in schools, I think neighborhoods need recreation centers so the teenager has something else positive to do than just hanging on the street corners.
Mr. HYDE. I would like to ask the panel, if you are able to stick around, some of the members of the next panel have to leave very shortly after testifying, and we want to hear them but we don't want to abbreviate your responses to questions, and I certainly don't want to cut off the members from asking questions. So it is somewhat of an imposition, but could we interrupt your questioning now and could you stick around?
Ms. DANIELS. Sure.
Mr. HYDE. That would be great. We will get to the next panel, then, and then we will get back to our teenagers who are doing such a great job.
Our second panel, starting with Michael Medved, Mr. Medved is a film critic, author and nationally syndicated radio talk show host. He graduated from Yale University, worked as a screenwriter and chief film critic for the New York Post. He also served for 12 years as co-host of ''Sneak Preview,'' a nationally televised weekly movie review show on PBS TV. Mr. Medved is the author of eight nonfiction books, including ''What Really Happened to the Class of '65,'' ''The Shadow Presidents,'' ''Hollywood Versus America'' and ''Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence,'' which he coauthored with his wife, Diane.
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The next witness is an old and dear friend, Mr. Jack Valenti. He is chairman and chief executive officer of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. Mr. Valenti is a graduate of the University of Houston and Harvard Business School. He cofounded the advertising and political consulting agency of Wheatley and Valenti. He served as special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, and became the third president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America in 1966. Since that time Mr. Valenti has presided over many changes in the film industry and has authored numerous books and essays.
Next is Mr. Eberly. Mr. Eberly is the founder of several nationally recognized initiatives, including the Civil Society Project, which promotes community-based solutions to social problems, and the National Fatherhood Initiative, a nonpartisan, nonsectarian civic organization seeking to increase the number of children who are raised by committed, involved fathers. Mr. Eberly has also served on several national commissions investigating the state of American social life, including the National Commission on Civic Renewal and the Council on Civil Society. Mr. Eberly is the author of four books on issues of American society and culture, including ''America's Promise: Civil Society and the Renewal of American Culture.''
Next, Dr. Dewey Cornell. He is a clinical psychologist, associate professor in clinical and school psychology at the Currie School of Education at the University of Virginia. He received a B.A. in psychology and philosophy from Transylvania University in 1977, an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan in 1979, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1981, also from Michigan. Dr. Cornell is the director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project of the University of Virginia. He has written numerous articles, reviews and reports in the area of child psychology.
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Next, an old and dear friend, Robert L. Woodson, Sr. He is the founder and president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and demonstration organization founded in 1981. This organization has been at the forefront of the movement to empower low-income Americans and works with neighborhood based organizations to reduce crime and violence, restore families, create economic enterprise and employment and revitalize low-income communities. Mr. Woodson received a B.S. from China University and an M.S.W. from the University of Pennsylvania. During the 1970's, he directed the National Urban League's Administration of Justice Division, and then served as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Woodson has also authored several books, including ''The Triumphs of Joseph, How Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods.''
Next, Officer David Mankin. He is president of the National Association of School Resources Officers. He is also a school resource officer in Richardson, Texas.
Next, Donna Hearne. She is a teacher, researcher, and currently executive director of the Constitutional Coalition in St. Louis. In 1981 she began a 10-year stint serving in several positions within the Department of Education of the United States. As vice chairman of the policy-setting board for the National Council on Education Research, she oversaw the Federal laboratories and centers. As chairman of the Fund for the Improvement of Schools and Teaching, she awarded grants for new and innovative programs in the schools. She has written widely on education and educational movements.
Next, Ms. Byrl Phillips Taylor. Her son Scott had just graduated from high school, and was shot and killed with an assault rifle by a former classmate whom Scott had had some verbal confrontations with. Since that tragedy, Ms. Phillips Taylor helped found Virginians Against Handgun Violence, and has testified before other legislative hearings and has lobbied for gun control. She also is a victims' advocate in the State of Virginia and a realtor in Sandston, Virginia.
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Next, Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman. Lieutenant Colonel Grossman served for 25 years in the United States Army, from which he is now retired. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbus College in Columbus, Georgia, in 1984, and a Master of Education Counseling Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin in 1990. Lieutenant Colonel Grossman was a psychology professor at West Point Military Institute, and now teaches psychology at Arkansas State University, and is president of the Killology Research Group in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In 1995 he authored ''On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.'' Lieutenant Colonel Grossman is recognized worldwide as a professional trainer to military and law enforcement organizations. In March 1998 he was the lead counselor to the West Side Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, after that school experienced a tragic shooting of its students. Lieutenant Colonel Grossman also served as a counselor after the Paducah, Kentucky, shootings in December 1997.
Donna Rice Hughes is vice president of marketing and public relations of Enough is Enough, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to make the Internet safe for children and families. Mrs. Hughes has led Enough is Enough's efforts regarding the issue of on-line child safety, and has played a pioneering role in the national effort to make the Internet safe for children and families. She also is the author of ''Kids On-line: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace.'' In 1999, Mrs. Hughes received a congressional appointment to the Child On-line Protection Commission to examine technological solutions to protect children on-line.
A very distinguished panel. I ask you, I plead with you to hold your remarks to 5 minutes, give or take, if you can. You will be questioned, and your full statements will be made a part of the record and will be carefully studied, I assure you.
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We will begin with you, Mr. Medved. Thank you for being here.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL MEDVED, FILM CRITIC, AUTHOR AND NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST
Mr. MEDVED. Thank you. Mr. Chairman. I suppose the question that everybody is addressing at this moment is: Does the popular culture, does the entertainment industry
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, we are having a little trouble hearing.
Mr. HYDE. Pull that mike a little closer.
Mr. MEDVED. I suppose the question that everyone is addressing right now is: What role does the entertainment industry, what role does the popular culture play, in shaping what some people have called a culture of death among American young people? Does it play a role at all?
And the answer is, of course it does. Simply look at the amount of time committed. The average American child, by the time he or she reaches the age of Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold, will have spent more time watching TV, renting videos, going to movies, than that child will have spent in every classroom that he or she has ever sat down and tried to learn within.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You might say, how can that be? It is very simple. Kids begin watching TV in this country at age one. They begin school usually at age five. And then most kids take vacations from school, summer vacations, Christmas vacations. Very few kids ever take vacations from television.
One of the situations that we have to address is, we live in a Nation where the average American child by the age of seven will have invested more hours of his or her life watching TV than that child will spend speaking to his or her father in a lifetime. Of course there is a profound influence.
We have hundreds of thousands of remarkable teachers in this country. But no matter how good a teacher is, can that teacher be as skilled at conveying information, values, messages, as the most effective selling agency in the history of the human race? Which is the American entertainment industry. Of course there is an influence.
Now, having said that, to say that entertainment is the only factor in creating a climate of violence or a culture of death would be just as idiotic as saying that it is no factor. Clearly it plays a role. What role can be played in response to the messages and the images then, is the appropriate conveyed in the overwhelming investment of time that children spend with American entertainment?
I have two modest suggestions. Actually, one of them is modest, it is reasonable. It is something that leaders of the industry like Mr. Valenti could act upon this week, now, immediately, and do it. The other suggestion is radical and visionary, obnoxious and important.
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The modest suggestion first. The V-chip is being introduced to American television this year, as you all know. This is an achievement of the Congress of the United States and the Government of the United States. That V-chip will be virtually useless unless something is done to enable American parents to understand the TV rating system that it is based upon. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that the majority of American parents have no idea what this TV rating system is. We have separate rating systems right now for video games, television, motion pictures, and for music.
It seems to me tremendously important that we regularize it. Mr. Valenti set up a rating system 30 years ago, all Americans know what it means: G, PG, PG 13. Why not apply those same abbreviations and standards across the board? That is the modest suggestion.
The radical suggestion, very briefly, is that we look at the real problem. The real problem in America is not too much violence in the media, it is not too much sleaze, it is not too gratuitous sex. It is too much TV, period. The problem is not just the low quality of entertainment, it is the high quantity of television.
The average American watches 28 hours a week. I don't care if you are watching 28 hours a week of CSPAN, fat chance, it is still too much. It has a devastating effect on family relationships, on community involvement, on school work. Television addiction tends to make children impatient, restless, dissatisfied, with a short-term attention span. It makes them self-pitying, it makes them alienated, it makes them superficial.
The real need now is to do something that was done with the awareness of tobacco as a problem. Initially when tobacco was recognized as a problem, people talked about putting filters on cigarettes, lower tar and nicotine. That is what you are talking about is changing content. Eventually America realized that you had to cut down on the amount of tobacco itself, and that is the situation we need right now.
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Let us understand that yes, we need better TV and we can benefit from better entertainment, but we also need to encourage kids in particular, and adults as well, to understand that this will be a better country with less consumption; a supply side solution that could be valuable. Even more important are demand side solutions, and reducing the consumption in every home. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Medved follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MICHAEL MEDVED, FILM CRITIC, AUTHOR AND NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST
PARENTS NEED A UNIVERSAL RATING SYSTEM FOR ALL FORMS OF ENTERTAINMENT
After all the anguished conversation about media violence in the last three weeksthe Congressional hearings, the entertainment ''summit conferences,'' the probing TV specials, and the solemn pronouncements of politicianswill we once again shrug our shoulders, change the subject, and do nothing? Americans of every political persuasion have reached an overwhelming consensus that brutality in the popular culture exerts a destructive influence on the attitudes and behavior of our kids. Is it enough to respond to this consensus by stating the obvious: that the chief responsibility for protecting the young from damaging ultimately falls upon their parents?
No, it is not enoughespecially when the entertainment industry itself could easily seize this unique opportunity to make one obvious, immensely important reform to help parents cope with the media onslaught.
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We desperately need a universal rating system to cover all elements of pop culturea clear, consistent means of labeling movies, television, CDs and video games so that consumers can make more informed choices in the marketplace.
Even Hollywood's most shameless apologists must face the fact that the current situation with ratings and parental warnings amounts to a chaotic, incomprehensible mess. Sure, a typical parent may have some idea what the Motion Picture Association means by designating a given film as ''PG13.'' But how many among us could even begin to explain the television rating of ''TVY7'' or ''TVMA''? And does anyone out there in the real world fully grasp video game ratings of ''M'' or ''AO?''
Continued confusion is not only unnecessary; it is indefensible. Leaders of the various mediawho, after all, often represent the same huge parent companies like Warner Brothers or Disneyshould come together to clear away all the puzzling abbreviations and contradictory standards. The movie ratings''G,'' ''PG,'' ''PG13,'' ''R,'' and ''NC17''should provide the basis for a new across-the-board system that offers parents with far more meaningful guidance. That guidance will be particularly important when, in the near future, most TV sets will be equipped with a V-chip, a device that is only as useful and usable as the ratings the industry provides.
During informal conversations, both network and movie studio executives displayed a positive and open-minded response to the notion of creating consistent ratings for all media. Establishing one unified system with recognizable abbreviations seems, in fact, particularly appropriate at a time when the big entertainment companies are trying to emphasize ''synergy'' and ''convergence'' in their multi-faceted operations.
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The movie industry began rating its releases more than 30 years ago, so its designations are far more familiar to the public than the new categories established in other areas of entertainment. Of course, there are subtle distinctions between a television rating of ''TV14'' and a film label of ''PG13,'' but are these differences important enough to justify perpetuating the current muddle? Surveys show that few parents make use of the new TV ratingsin part because so few understand them.
Establishing a universal rating would both facilitate and encourage greater parental supervision in the entertainment that children consume. At the moment, the only information provided about music releases, for instance, is an all-purpose advisory affixed to CDs and tapes that warns of ''explicit content.'' This is an all-or-nothing categorization that gives adults little information or assistance in understanding the nature of the usually unfamiliar titles their children may purchase. Many parents would feel grateful for some guidance as to which releases might qualify as ''PG'' or ''PG13,'' and which have earned an ''R.'' At the moment, albums only get tagged if they are, in effect, ''NC17.''
None of this amounts to censorship of any kind, nor would it require governmental intervention. The universal ratings, like the well-established system for feature films, would remain entirely voluntary. If consumers choose to ignore it, they remain totally free to do so.
Of course, some ratings decisions for specific TV shows or musical releases or video games will seem capricious and illogicalthat's certainly been the case with some controversial movie designations in the past. But even imperfect efforts to provide parents with more adequate guidance would serve to empower them.
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Nor should anyone argue that consistent, comprehensible across-the-board ratings would inevitably lead to more emphasis on racy materialwith producers trying to maximize their revenues by going for the harsher, hipper, more popular ''R'' designation. In movies, producers appeal decisions of the ratings board all the timebut always to get the softer rating, not the harder one. They have recognized for years now that ''PG'' titles fare, on average, far better than ''R'' titles precisely because they appeal to a broader audience. Some movieslike ''Saving Private Ryan,'' for instancerequire an ''R'' for their creative purposes, and find a huge audience in spite of it. The same will prove true for some video games, musical albums and TV shows.
But at least a universal system that the public understands will make it harder to market graphically violent material to unsuspecting kids or to pass it off as ''family fare.'' An ''R'' rating may not keep all customers away from a piece of popular entertainment, but at least it serves as fair warning.
In recent years, the people's entertainment preferences proved that many Americans mean what they say when they demand more wholesome alternatives. The new industry-wide ratings system would help them find what they're seeking. Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association, industry elder statesman and the godfather of the well-known movie ratings, might well be enlisted to spearhead this new effort. At the very least, it would amount to a good faith response to the unmistakable public concern.
If the potentates of popular culture feel sincerely worried over disturbing messages reaching our kids, then why should they resist this moderate, common-sense step? It involves no new restrictions; just new informationnew tools many families will choose to use. Few parents expect government bureaucrats or entertainment executives to take their places when it comes to guiding entertainment choices of their kids. Yet it shouldn't be too much to ask of media moguls if, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, they would ''give us the tools, and we shall finish the job.''
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Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Medved. Mr. Valenti.
STATEMENT OF JACK VALENTI, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
Mr. VALENTI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Do you realize, Mr. Medved, yours is the first critical comment of CSPAN I have ever heard? CSPAN presents the Congress in session. Are you suggesting that will be devastating to the children of America?
Mr. MEDVED. Twenty-eight hours a week.
Mr. VALENTI. Mr. Chairman, I am not up here to say that movies don't have an influence on people's lives. They do. I just don't know how much, and to what extent. I am doing my damnedest to try to
Mr. HYDE. Excuse me, we are having trouble hearing. I don't know what the problem is today, but we do have one. If you can swallow that microphone.
Mr. VALENTI. What I had to say was so enchanting, I don't know if I can say it over again. Can you hear me now, Mr. Chairman? It is right in my upper molar at this moment.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am not going to be up before you gentleman and ladies and retain credibility by not telling you that I believe movies do have some influence, I just don't know how much and to what extent.
I am doing all that I possibly can to enlist as many of the creative community as I can to make these judgments on their own, with neither nagging nor commandments from anybody else, so that they can continue on as the arbiters of their artistic direction to try to ask a question, is the creative work I am about to complete, does it have gratuitous violence or sensuality or language? And if the answer is yes, and I define ''gratuitous'' as that which is more than enough, and then on their own to exile that part of the creative work without obstructing or dismaying the dramatic narrative which is the core of the story.
I have been at that quite a few months before Columbine. In 10 days I will be back in L.A., and over the next 6 months there are a number of meetings that I have set up. I have found a growing interest on the part of a good many of the creative community to be involved in that kind of self-exiling exercise.
When we make 550 to 600 films a year, some are bound to be slovenly produced. We don't have enough first-class talent in America to make 550 to 600 movies. There are some movies that I will not defend if my job and career depended on it.
But the great majority of films, Mr. Chairman, some of them rising to the highest point to which the creative spirit can soar, are not that kind of film. Our films go all over the world, and I might add are devoured by Japan and Western Europe and other countries, where in Japan the crime rate is the lowest in the known world, and where in Europe crime rates are way, way below America.
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Maybe we ought to investigate the connecting link between these low crime rates devouring all of our creative material and the high crime rates in America on the same material. Is there a connecting link? I think there is.
One of the connecting link is that Japan and Western Europe have Draconian gun laws. I won't get into that now; that is something for later.
We have a movie rating system that Mr. Medved talked about that has been in effect for 30 years. Parents like it. It gives advance cautionary warnings to parents so they can make their own judgments about what movies they want their children to see and not to see. We have a TV rating system that is in effect, and I agree that it needs explanation. The Kaiser Foundation and Katherine Montgomery, the head of the Center for Media Education, are on that right now.
The V-chip is coming in, where a parent will, for the first time, be empowered to set their own TV schedule for their children. I think that is what is wonderful.
We want to be part of this national solution, Mr. Chairman, whatever it is. I attended the White House conference with a group of Americans from all over this country of all occupations and the science and medical community, and they all agreed this is a complex, a complicated problem.
And finally, they all agreed there are only three places, Mr. Chairman, which are going to insert a moral shield inside a youngster so they can resist the blandishments of their peers and the enticements of the mean streets, and that is home with parents, school with teachers, and church with clerics. And if we don't do it there, Mr. Chairman, then we as a nation are lost. Thank you.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Valenti follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JACK VALENTI, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
What happened at Columbine High School in Colorado was a senseless act of mindless malice. Every sane American recoils in horror. There is rage in the land. There are outcries to ban, abolish, and quarantine by legislative fiat what many believe to be source beds of fatal mischief. But we have to be clear-headed in our response to the query: How does this nation make our schools proof against such grotesque intrusions?
What ghoulish molecules infected two teen-agers, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in 1924, seventy-five years ago, to callously kidnap, torture and murder fourteen-year old Bobby Franks?
What bred the inhumanity in teen-ager Charles Starkweather who in 1951, forty-eight years ago, with his fourteen year old girlfriend, roamed across Nebraska and Wyoming shooting, stabbing and strangling eleven people. Caril Fugate, his girlfriend, confessed she shotgunned her own mother. Caitlin Lovinger reported in the New York TIMES (April 23, 1999) that hours before Starkweather was strapped in an electric chair, he was asked if he would like his eyes donated for medical research. ''Hell no,'' he said, ''no one ever did anything for me. Why should I do anything for anyone else?''
What was the dark force that invaded teen-ager Kenneth Skinner and caused him in 1952, forty-seven years ago, to bum down an apartment building that was on his paper route. He casually admitted later then he knew none of the eight people who died in the blaze?
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What compasionless evil prompted Charles Whitman to climb the Tower at the University of Texas in 1966, thirty-three years ago, and without mercy gaze down the sight of his rifle to shoot fifteen innocent people to death?
Wherein lie the roots of the madness of Starkweather, Skinner, Fugate, Whitman, Leopold and Loeb? Do they have any connection to the unfathomable urgings which infected the brains of the kid killers at Columbine?
KID KILLERS ARE INHABITED BY DISMAL RHYTHMS AND MENTAL DISCONNECTS.
One doesn't have to be a medical seer to understand that youngsters who kill, wantonly, casually, are inhabited by dismal rhythms which dance in an emotional bubble perilously off-center. There is within them a mental disconnect swarming with dark and primitive transactions. Unhappily, no one knew that behind the fresh faces of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold lurked the picture of Dorian Gray. Why did not anyone sense that these two seemingly non-violent youths were seething with hatred, on the edge of detonation, even though it was writ clear and large they were in terrible emotional disarray?
But when something incomprehensible like Columbine occurs, fear is infectious. In a NEWSWEEK poll last week, 64% of adults believed a shooting incident at their local schools to be ''very likely'' to ''somewhat likely.'' But factually in 1996 only ten percent of schools reported even one serious violent crime.
The statistics are revelatory. Fewer than one percent of homicides involving school-age children occur in and around schools, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Since 1992 the annual death toll from school shootings has ranged from twenty to fifty-five, says the National School Safety Center. There were forty-nine deaths in the last school year. Forty-three percent of all schools had no crime at all in the 19961997 school year, said the Department of Education. In 1997, eight percent of high school students said they had carried a weapon to school in the preceding month. This was a decrease from the twelve percent in 1993.
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In 1997, the murder rate in the USA was the lowest in thirty years. The juvenile violent arrest rate rose between 1988 and 1994, but peaked in 1994, and since then has decreased steadily. The FBI reports that the number of persons under eighteen in the U.S. is some 70 million. The rate of arrests for violent crimes in this category,has declined from its high water mark in 1994 at.51% to.41% or forty-one hundredth of one percent (287,000). This also means that 99.59% of young people under eighteen (69.7 million) were not into violent crime.
The children of this country do not deserve being all herded into a category that labels them as something they are not. They are not all killers. They are not all brooding, menacing figures, filled with hatreds, emotional abnormalities which house a defective mythology. Though all children more or less inhabit the same entertainment and community enclaves, ninety-nine percent of them are decently formed good citizens.
Yes, I know that statistics are frail reeds on which to lean, but they ought not be ignored. Yes, it is absolutely true that one death is too many. Columbine happened. The nation weeps. Now we have an overpowering responsibility, as a nation, to make our schools safer.
HOW CAN WE AS PARENTS AND CITIZENS CONTRIBUTE TO MAKING OUR SCHOOLS SAFER AND OUR CHILDREN SAFE?
It takes no stretch of the intellect to know beyond doubt there are three pillars which support the rostrum from which springs the conduct of youngsters as they grow to adulthood. They are Home, Church and School. These are the central nervous systems of a child's future behavior. Neither Presidents nor Congress nor regulatory agencies can substitute for the three essential imperatives through which children are molded, Home, Church and School.
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Mothers, fathers, ministers, rabbis, priests, principals and teachers must construct within the minds and hearts of children an impenetrable moral shield, against which the blandishments of peers, the enticements of the mean streets, clannish cliques, and visual and aural images, will shatter and break. That moral armor plate has to be woven from a clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong, founded on God's inviolate commandments (which are pretty much the same in every religion). If that moral armor is sturdily assembled, and fitted in the early years, no momentary lapse will dissolve its bindings.
But absent that moral shield, absent the loving embrace of parents, church and school, absent the early years' learning of right and wrong, no abolition of constitutional rights, no executive order, no congressional law, no fiery rhetoric will ever salvage a child's conduct or locate a missing moral core. If we as a nation don't understand that, we are lost.
WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS PLAINLY WRONG:
Education experts assert that the most sensitive time span in the life of a child is in the first seven or eight years. That is the period when the child's character is shaped and formed, perhaps forever. Yet it is in those sensitive early years where most of us lag in inserting an ethical code within our children, barren of which youngsters grow up with a threadbare morality. Why not, then, beginning in pre-school, moving through kindergarten and grades one through five, for at least one half hour each day, teach children how to live a life both decent and worthy? Why not summon the best minds in education and child behavior to construct a course which could be called WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS PLAINLY WRONG? (In high school or college this course would doubtless be labeled ''Ethics'' or ''Moral Judgments.'')
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All religions are anchored to the same moral platform. What is wrong in one religion is usually wrong in another. Therefore there ought be no barriers to the teaching of a course that is not religious, in the constitutional sense, but is the seedbed from which flows a firm and fluent embrace of life-giving essentials: honor, duty, compassion, sacrifice, decency, integrity, self-worth, civic values and, above all, the cleansing precept that one should treat others as one wants others to treat him or her. If we squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to insert in the child that indispensable moral code which will guide him through an uncertain future, we will have blundered, badly. As someone wrote: ''When error is irretrievable, there can be no repentance.'' If such a course were to be put in place, I would ask the member companies of MPAA, and others in the creative community, to help produce brief videos which would personalize the examples offered in the course.
EARLY WARNING SIGNALS:
Early warning alerts given off by disturbed children must be heard and countered immediately. They cannot be dismissed. The schools have experts, or ought to have, whose alarm bells clang when troubled students come into view.
Parents have to be watchful for problematical behavior in their children. When those kids are inadvertently crying out for help before they walk off the edge of the precipice, parents cannot be dismissive, cannot remain mute and blind. They must contact diagnostic experts before it is too late.
The Department of Education in August, 1998 has published a most important document titled Guide to Safe Schools. This Guide is signed and sponsored by Richard Riley, Secretary of Education and Janet Reno, Attorney General, and its substance was supplied by experts in education, law enforcement, juvenile justice, mental health and other social service. This Guide demands to be examined for it verifies Early Warning Signals, which every parent ought to read and absorb. These early warning signs are:
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''Social withdrawal; excessive feelings of isolation and being alone; affiliation with gangs; inappropriate access to, possession of, and use of firearms; excessive feelings of rejection; being a victim of violence; feelings of being picked on and persecuted; low school interest and poor academic performance; expression of violence in writings and drawings; uncontrolled anger; patterns of impulsive and chronic hitting; intimidating, and bullying behavior; history of disciplinary problems; past history of violent and aggressive behavior; intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes; drug use.''
It is a must-read for parents, school teachers, principals, and clerics. It is also a recipe for saving a child's life, as well as saving the lives of those with whom disturbed young children associate.
The movie/TV industry can be of assistance by helping to distribute the Early Warning Signals. It is a venture that we would be willing to discuss with the Department of Education.
ACCUSATORY FINGERS POINT TOWARD MOVIES
Let's discuss movies. Accusatory fingers point toward films as a prime villain. Last year the entire movie industry produced over 550 films. When that many movies are made, some of them are bound to be slovenly conceived. In a free society, no one can command 'only good movies be produced.' Which is why I will not defend all movies. Some few in my judgment cross a smudged, ill-illuminated line where the acceptable becomes unsuitable, and I'll have no part of them. But the great majority of films, some of them rising to the highest point to which the creative spirit can soar, don't warrant being lumped with a number of movies whose worth is questionable. Edmund Burke was right when he said, ''You cannot indict an entire society.'' Neither should anyone condemn the many because of the porous quality of the very few. Moreover, American parents have the supreme right not to patronize what they judge to be soiling to their childrens' future. The parental bill of rights declares the power of parents to turn away from that which they don't want their family to listen to or watch. Banish them from your home, refuse to patronize them outside the home.
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THE MOVIE/TV INDUSTRY HAS AN OBLIGATION TO BE RESPONSIBLE
I do earnestly believe that the movie/TV industry has a solemn obligation. Each creative team must examine their work from a personal perspective. Is there gratuitous violence, language or sensuality? If there is, then the creative team, on its own, without any nagging or commands from anyone else, ought to exile whatever is gratuitous without dismaying the dramatic narrative that is the core of the story. I wholeheartedly endorse that kind of creative scrutiny.
Years ago many of us in the movie world came to the conclusion that we had a duty to inform parents about film content. This is the prime reason why for over thirty years a voluntary movie rating system, created and implemented by film producers and theater owners, has been in place. These ratings give advance cautionary warnings to parents so they can decide what movies they want their children to see or not to see. Only parents are capable of making such decisions. Some 75% of parents with children under thirteen find this rating system Very Useful to Fairly Useful in helping them guide their children's movie viewing.
A comparable rating system is operative in television, offering information to parents about TV shows. Soon, there will be available in large supply the so-called V-Chip whose aim it is to give parents more power over the TV viewing of their children. Parents have to tend to their children's TV viewing, seriously, tenaciously, else they cannot indict others for their lack of monitoring TV watching in the home. For example, too many parents are agreeing to give their young children their own TV set, in their own room, thereby losing control over what their children are watching. But that is a parental decision they alone can make.
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The movie industry has played, and is playing, an important role in our society, and will continue to do so. American movies travel the world, where they are hospitably received and enthusiastically patronized. Our movies, from Mr. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, from BEN HUR to STAR WARS, captivate audiences everywhere. Entertainment created in America is one of this nation's proudest artistic and commercial assets. We produce for this country huge amounts of surplus balance of trade at a time when the country bleeds from trade deficits. (It is ironic that Japan, which devours American films and TV programs, has one of the lowest crime rates in the world!)
LISTEN TO THE CHILDREN
We (meaning parents and citizens, Congress, White House, professionals in the field of education, science and business) should listen to the children, the youngsters in grammar school, middle school and high school. They are best equipped to tell us if the media is the complete villain, if what they hear and see infects them, and soils their best intentions. They know better than their elders about peer pressure and rejection and cliques and the mean alternatives that tantalize and entice them. Are we truly listening to them?
On Thursday, April 29, 1999, Jeff Greenfield (CNN) had a 'conversation' with students. Two of those students were from Columbine High School. One of them, a lovely senior named Alisha Basore, was queried about the impact of the media on unnatural behavior. She responded that the media was a minor force in distorting students' values. If the media was at fault, she said, everyone of the some 1,850 students at Columbine would all be killers because, as she pointed out, the students all watch the same movies and TV programs, listen to the same music, play the same video games. By her side was the other Columbine student, Josh Nielsen, who confirmed Alisha's remarks and said it wasn't the media, but rather that the two killers were crazy.
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Let's listen to the children.
WHY KIDS GO WRONG IS FULL OF COMPLEXITIES AND CONTRADICTIONS.THERE IS NO 'ONE THING.'
As we debate and discuss the phenomenon of 'killer kids' we have to understand there are areas in the human brain which even the most advanced medical skills have not yet been able to penetrate. We just don't know the 'why.' There is no one element in the society, no one thing that if revised, would be 'the solution' to societal violence. It is all so very complicated, so complex, because we are dealing with the human condition which is unknowable in so many ways. Just as it is true that computers can do everything except one thing: they cannot accurately predict human behavior. Though we ache for it, there is no Euclidian geometry with its simple clarity available to us in our search for quick answers when youngsters explode and others die.
But we ought not leap to conclusions without verifiable evidence and professional guidance. The Department of Education/Attorney General's GUIDE TO SAFE SCHOOLS has peered deeply into the problem and concluded that Early Warnings must be observed and acted on with urgency. Additionally, the Surgeon General can build on this Guide by enlisting the finest professionals in the land who know best how to navigate and map the dimly lit corridors of the human mind. From that assembly of the most knowledgeable must come evidence, not theory, not tenuous links, not opinion, not personal view, not surmise, but confirmable evidence.
It is these men and women of medical science and education on whom we should rely to provide us with real facts. And then the great majority of citizens can act wisely and prudently, not wildly axing that which ought not be dismantled.
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We should heed the words of Oliver Goldsmith who, in discussing what he called 'the good natured man', wrote: ''We must touch his weaknesses with a delicate hand. There are some faults so nearly allied to excellence that we can scarce weed out the fault without eradicating the virtue.''
There is a long road ahead, but the goal is reachable. It will require all factions and elements in the society to be involved. The movie/TV industry is ready to be part of a national crusade to make our schools safer and our children safe.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you very much, Mr. Valenti.
STATEMENT OF DON EBERLY, DIRECTOR, THE CIVIL SOCIETY PROJECT, AND CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INSTITUTE
Mr. EBERLY. Thank you. Can you hear me?
Mr. HYDE. I can hear you. Yes, they can hear you.
Mr. EBERLY. I think I was identified as the founder and chairman of the National Fatherhood Initiative which I am, and I would like to talk a little about the role of parenting or especially fathers. But most of my testimony really concerns the role of communities for, as Robert Bella said, we live through our institutions. We tend to have neglected as Americans the very process of socialization.
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I found very interesting the comments of a couple of the students, if I may digress immediately from my statement, speaking to the issue of order in the schools; indicating that the kids are in charge, the teachers aren't in charge, even the security guards aren't in charge, and I would really like to suggest to you that you keep that picture in mind, because to a large extent we are dealing with a decades-long process of fairly substantial transformation.
I would commend to you the book by Alan Ehrenhalt, who is the editor of National Journal here in Washington, and it is called ''The Lost City.'' And he went back to his native city of Chicago and was curious to know why it was that his neighborhood which he grew up in is now pretty much controlled by neighborhood drug lords, and occasionally you have kids fighting over sneakers with AK47s, and he compared that to the neighborhood in which he was raised in which most people got a job and raised their kids, et cetera. In other words, it worked.
And he speculated, as most of us speculate, on the theories as to why this is so. And of course there are issues of joblessness and economic deprivation, issues of white flight and racism, and we need not neglect these important topics. But after looking at all of the theories, he said, ''What is not only true in these neighborhoods but now common in America as we embrace this welter of diverse values, the one thing we have in common, is our deep commitment to emancipation from social authority as we once knew it.''
So picture the schools, picture the teachers. We have withdrawn from our notion of legitimate social authority which, as we are increasingly beginning to learn, leads directly to State power which leads directly to rules and laws which are ineffective and illegitimate, and which experience declining support among the people. They describe teachers imposing more and more rules, but rules become irrelevant when you don't have authority. And what Alan Ehrenhalt pointed out was that throughout the streets of his boyhood Chicago there were priests and other adults and teachers all working in common to socialize the young. The means were there, the will was there, and the rules existed. There was a common consensus over what the rules should be operating in public spheres.
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I want to commend as well, and since the topic is so vast and the time is brief, another piece to you, and that is in this month's edition of Atlantic Monthly and that is by Francis Fukuyama, who wrote a piece called ''The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of the Social Order.'' It is by far the most comprehensive treatment of the radically disrupting impact that this entire modernizing process has had.
And we are all for the modernizing process, but we must appreciate how our technological society is increasingly leveling and hollowing out our communities and our social institutions. It is not that they don't exist. We still have local communities, but they are being hollowed out of their authority and the authority is being transferred to the individual.
He said the essence of the shift in values at the center of this great American disruption is the rise of moral individualism and a consequent miniaturization of community. Of all my colleagues involved in the civil society debate and movement in America, no one has captured it better. There is no lack of interest in moral values. We have, however, created moral individualism whereby we can't gain any kind of consensus regarding what might operate in public spaces and public spheres, and we have miniaturized community and its role.
Let me talk about the socialization of males which, as the founder of the National Fatherhood Initiative, is closest to my heart. We have a serious problem and many social scientists have come up with a term for it. It is called the male problematic. We have missed out on this tremendous challenge, and for a father the exciting challenge of raising up young boys. Please note, as we are talking about the violence and the outbursts around the country, we are talking about predominantly working or middle class or suburbanite communities like Littleton, and we are talking about males.
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There is a huge amount of literature emerging discussing the unique role that fathers have to play, and this is no longer the problem that we once had of an occasional father-absent household, we are talking now about father-absent neighborhoods and father-absent cities, and we are talking about small towns as well. It is remarkable, 40 percent of the kids going to bed today in households in which the biological father does not live, and the correlation between the absence of the father and any number of negative emotional or behavioral or social outcomes among children is really remarkable.
And I want to stress that there are a lot of great families out there and a lot of great single parents out there and a lot of great popular culture out there, but if you want to look at determinants, I would commend to you the evidence that I have in my statement, that I can supply to you or the staff, regarding the important role that fathers have to play.
I saw in the media commentary following Littleton a tremendous emphasis on parenting, and this is convenient and reflects our notion that parents are responsible, which indeed they are. There is a public agenda study that came out recently talking about how we as parents blame parents for the problem, but it is the case that there are a lot of parents, I would say that our generation has raised up a huge number of the best parents that America has ever produced.
And as I travel across the country and I interact with the moms and dads, intact and single family parents, they are saying it is not good enough to be a good parent any more, that parenting should not require a heroic struggle against the entire exterior world. There are now influences that are pervasive in the world beyond and intrusive in the home, that render even the best parents often ineffective.
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So I want to say that this is serious business. This is about socializing tomorrow's citizens. This is about inculcating the capacities and the values of democracy, and which is about self-mastery and respect of others. This is serious business, and it seems to me that it comes down to our respect for the democratic system that we have and our need as concerned Americans to push back at all levels against the influences that are now so toxic. That would be my recommendation. Good parenting is not good enough.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Eberly follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DON EBERLY, DIRECTOR, THE CIVIL SOCIETY PROJECT, AND CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INSTITUTE
Good Morning. My name is Don Eberly and I am here as the Director of the Civil Society Project, a non-profit organization promoting the renewal of social institutions and popular culture, and as the founder and Chairman of the National Fatherhood Initiative, a national non-partisan civic initiative seeking to build a society-wide social movement to reverse father absence. I have written or edited four books on issues of community, character and culture.
I would like to focus my remarks on the role popular mass culture now plays in the socialization of the young. We must ask ourselves what really is different today about the content of cultural programming reaching the young; what is different today about the power of popular mass culture, and why does any of this matter outside of an occasional catastrophe like Littleton?
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am hoping that my remarks may shed light on how it is that the issues confronting us today are, in fact, different and not merely part of a recurring problem on the American scene, especially in regard to how we are raise our young males. After all, it is young males who are blowing up our schools, and as we have seen, they are often not from the urban underclass.
The leading family sociologist David Popenoe, who has written extensively on parenting, is heard regularly saying that the success of every society depends upon its ability to produce a large number of adults who are good citizens and who uphold high moral standards. The central task of democracy, therefore, is for older generations to devote themselves to socializing infants into adults, a process which transforms self-interested private individuals into public spirited citizens. Democracy is heavily dependent for its success upon those institutions which perform that socialization task, starting with the family, but including other vital social institutions as well.
The issues before us are not merely about private matters. Those who cherish democracy must care a lot about the process by which individuals come by their capacity for self-governance. We need to be asking ourselves, in light of Littleton: how are we doing in developing human conscience and the capacity for such things as self-mastery and empathy for others in the young?
I am not here to offer a causal theory regarding the brutal killings. The tragic story of Littleton seems to defy simplistic theories, and the complexity of the case may actually take the national conversation in more productive directions. The Littleton slaughter may cause us to focus, as we haven't for a long time, on what some have called the ''social ecology'' that now shapes our lives, beliefs and values. In this context we might ask: was the world and life view of Eric Harris, the self-described philosopher who had a web page dedicated to his hate-filled ideology, the isolated work of a psychopathic killer who came by his violent urges by means of bad genes, prescription drugs or some compulsive disorder? Or might it have been nourished by a cultural environment that is now toxic and fundamentally corrupting of character.
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The process involved in leaving what the philosopher Thomas Hobbes called ''state of nature'' and becoming helpful, trustful, respectful citizens involves far more than formal democratic institutions; it requires social institutions which shape the character and habits of a people. For most of American history, this function was carried out by a multitude of community institutions. Alexis de Tocqueville, the foremost observer and analyst of American democratic society, marveled at how well we Americans performed this socialization task, and attributed our system's success to it.
Voluntary associations of a thousand kinds dotted the local landscape, inculcating the habits of citizenship and maintaining the bonds of mutual obligation. These ''mediating structures'' as they are often called, cultivated sympathies among individuals for others and for the common good. In and through these ''subdivisions'' of society, Tocqueville observed, ''feeling and opinions are recruited, and heart is enlarged, and the human mind is developed,'' as Tocqueville described the process.
This process has never been easy in a highly individualistic society. Until very recently, society's adults were able to join in partnership to cultivate character in youth. Parents had both the means and the inclination to provide discipline and order for their children that extended well beyond individual households. Most importantly, parents could look out for each other's kids because, by wide consensus, shared a basic agreement over the rules.
I would like to suggest that our growing violence and inhumanity in American is due in large measure to both the decline in the authority of these core institutions combined with the rise of a popular mass culture that has not accepted this sense of collective responsibility for inculcating democratic character. The producers of popular mass culture view themselves as capitalists, but not citizens. Their ethic seems to be: whatever someone wants, we have a right and even an obligation to produce it.
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It is hard to capture how fully the entire social order has been reconstituted since Tocqueville's day. I'm sure that if he were writing Democracy in America today he would describe at length the place that the internet, ''walkmans,'' computer games, and television have in the lives of many Americans. I would strongly commend to each of you the lead essay in the May, 1999 copy of Atlantic Monthly by Francis Fukuyama, entitled The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of the Social Order. It is, by far the most comprehensive treatment of the radically disrupting impact the modernizing process has had on the human person and on community.
What is most relevant about this transformation to the topic before us today is that: one, many of the mediating structures that we could once take for grantedthe family, civic associations, local webs of connectionare in a weakened state, and two, the authority they once enjoyed has been transferred to the individual and to the consumer marketplace. These older community structures still exist to varying degrees, as recent surveys have pointed out, but their authority to socialize has been hollowed out. When the institutions of civil society atrophy, the individual becomes the arbiter of all that is right and good.
The family, in particular, has been weakened, both through fragmentation and through a real erosion of parental authority. Any reference to family fragmentation must be understood to be synonymous with father absence, since the consequence of family breakup in over 90 percent of the cases is children being raised apart from their fathers.
While it is true that the human race has had family struggles ever since there have been families, the scale of father absence today is unprecedented in history. Whereas the number of children raised in father absent households in 1960 was 5.6 million, the number of children today who go to bed at night in a household in which the biological father does not live has risen to 24 million, or almost one third of all children. If current trends continue, one in every two children born in the 1990s will spend a portion of his or her life living apart from the father before leaving the house.
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The case regarding the family is very well known, and does not need to be repeated here. However, as the founder and Chairman of the National Fatherhood Initiative, I do want to take a moment to talk about the most delicate and profoundly consequential challenge of socialization, and that is the raising up of young males, a topic which until very recently has not gotten the attention it deserves.
If youth in general are under pressure in today's society, many young males are in state of crisis. Three out of four children diagnosed as learning disabled are boys. Boys are much more likely to have drug and alcohol problems. Ninety-five percent of juvenile homicides are committed by boys. Four out of five juvenile court cases involve crimes committed by boys. As a leader in the fatherhood movement, I believe I can report from personal observation that there is a greater number of bitter and alienated young men in our society than before.
Curbing the aggressive impulses of young males is perhaps the most important task that falls to fathers. Noted social scientist James Q. Wilson has said that ''every society must be wary of the unattached male, for he is universally the cause of numerous social ills. The relationship of father absence to numerous negative outcomes among children and youth is now well documented, and especially the relationship of poorly fathered males to crime and acting out. Studies show that the chief predictor of crime is not race or poverty, but the presence or absence of a father.
Obviously, only a small minority of troubled kids turn to slaughtering others in cold blood, and certainly father absence is not the only factor in this growing epidemic. But we must certainly acknowledge it as a factor, even a major factor. Shawn Johnson, a forensic psychologist who has conducted over 6,000 evaluations of adult and juvenile criminals concludes: ''this is the price we are paying for the number of fathers who have bailed out on their children.''
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A society of too few mature fathers ends up with what psychiatrist Dr. Frank Pittman calls ''toxic masculinity,'' where essentially weak, insecure and poorly fathered men chase after a socially destructive masculine mystique. Men who have not fully felt the love and approval of their fathers are men who live in masculine shame. Says Pittman, boys who want to become men have to ''guess at what men are like'' which usually turns out being what he calls a ''pathologically exaggerated masculinity'' that involves ''a frantic tendency to compete over just about anything with just about anybody.'' There is only one way out of this shame-filled masculinity, says Pittman, and that is recovering the ''lost profession of fatherhood.'' Says Pittman: ''we are not going to have a better class of men until we have a better class of fathers.''
Young men badly need to see mature masculinity modeled out. Well seasoned masculinity fundamentally transforms the aggression of young males by capturing their masculine energy and directing it toward socially constructive pursuits, toward self restraint, and respect toward others. Young men need order and rules, but they also need dignity, purpose and a healthy sense of the heroic.
The Littleton case reminds us that all of these things can also be lacking in intact, two-parent, father-present families. As we are learning, it is possible to be physically present, but otherwise checked out. In this context, there is an issue that may or may not be directly tied to the Littleton tragedy, but which needs to be addressed, and that is the deep and growing problem of alienation for many in American culture. American society is very slow to come to terms with how deeply alienating modernity and even more so, post-modernity, is. Man, being by nature a social creature, has a real need for connection, continuity and coherence. Modern and post-modern people are an uprooted peopleestranged from others and cut off from genuine community and a sense of heritage, purpose or place.
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We especially refuse to come to terms with what is a unique form of alienation that accompanies prosperity. Prosperity can be more deadly to the soul than poverty. Most assume that it is poverty or injustice that induces people to embrace extreme ideologies or turn to violent revolt, but as the violent outbursts in Pearl, Mississippi, West Paducah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and now the Denver suburb of Littleton illustrate, this is obviously not necessarily so.
People can withstand enormous hardship and devastation, providing they can make sense out of it. It is the collapse of the structures of meaning and belief that impose an unbearable burden on the human psyche. It is often a longing for real membership and a belief structure that produces extreme behavior. In a materialistic society such as our own, in which killers have a pocket full of cash, extreme agitation can arise out of boredom. A good many kids have seen and experienced everything that life has to offer by the time they've graduated from high school, such has been our failure to preserve for many kids a normal childhoodunhurried, innocent and filled with wonderment and adventure.
In ways that too few are willing to acknowledge, materialism has been adopted as an alternative belief system. There is no society on earth that combines such mindboggling prosperity with such high levels of both social pathology and spiritual barrenness. American society is seriously out of balance when it comes to the real needs of the human person. American culture overwhelmingly promotes a one-dimensional view of the human person: one who spends his/her days in pursuit of acquisitions and consumption. It is not only the case that Americans are busier than ever, or that they are more stressed out than ever; it is that they are busy and stressed out pursuing things that provide little or no meaning.
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There may be no corner of society in which this disease is more rampant than suburbia. The middle class used to joke disapprovingly about ''keeping up with the Jones.'' Today there is almost no value other than keeping up. If you sit down and talk to suburbanites, you will find that life for many is remarkably unsatisfying. There is a semblance of normalcy: the three car garage and the late model sports utility vehicles, which shuttles the kids from the mall to the soccer game to the overnight party. Everyone appears nice and normal on the surface, but how many are truly connecting with their kids is anyone's guess.
People are simply not connecting, whether with neighbors or family members, as many individuals themselves report in surveys. This failure to find connection and purpose in community can nourish either isolation or an exaggerated, narcissistic sense of self. Those who have been deprived of genuine community often search it out by joining groups of equally alienated peers, which as we saw in the case of the Littleton killers, can be extreme.
People need to connect. Wondering why so many American teens are depressed or alienated in the midst of our current prosperity, the Gallup Organization searched for answers by surveying the youth themselves. Gallup concluded that a deprived family life seems to be the key ''cause'' indicator of youth alienation. According to the survey, there is often a huge disconnect between the lives of parents and kids: too little time to talk, too little in common, too little to talk about.
Which brings me to popular mass culture and its influence in the lives of kids. Into the vacuum created by distracted parents and hollowed out communities, rushes the culture. Kids are raised by everyone and everything: by peers, by CDs, by movies, by the world of the internet, the vast majority of which lies beyond the knowledge of even the most vigilant parent.
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Prior to this century, there was no such thing as popular mass culture. The technological revolution in the twentieth century would change this. The history of socialization is consists of the steady transfer of power away from traditional authority centers. In fact, what is unprecedented in our experience, and what is perhaps revolutionary in the human race, is the power that popular mass culture now has to supplant other forms of authorityparental, educational, religious and political. I would argue that it is now the cultural sector that is shaping the quality of life for citizens and the direction of our nation. It is the single greatest shaper of values, attitudes and behaviors. And it is the single, most powerful engine driving social breakdown.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer captured this well in a recent column in which he stated: ''Never before in history have the purveyors of a degraded, almost totally uncensored culture had direct, unmediated access to the minds of society's young. An adolescent plugged into a Walkman playing 'gansta rap' represents a revolutionary social phenomenon: youthful consciousness almost literally hardwired to the most extreme and corrupting cultural influences.''
This phenomenonthe displacement of core social institutions with an omnipresent entertainment and information media culturemust be a core concern. Whereas parents, priests and pedagogues once presided over the socialization of the young, television, film, music, cyber space, and the celebrity culture of sports and entertainment now dominant this process of shaping the attitudes of the young. It is popular mass culture that largely informs our most basic understanding of society, our public life, our obligations to each other, and even the nature of the American experiment. Studies show that large majorities of kids can name a particular rock group but can't identify the most elementary aspects of America's history or constitutional system.
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How, we might ask, have those who gained from this huge transfer of power reacted? It must be pointed out that there are great numbers of conscientious people who make their living in music, entertainment and film. Many others, however, would find the very idea of sharing responsibility for ''civilizing the young'' laughable. That's not the role of entertainment, they will say: the role of entertainment is, in fact, to challenge and to stretch standards. ''Break the rules!'' ''Have no fear!'' ''Be yourself!,'' are the common themes within mainstream cultural programming designed to discredit parental authority.
As many will correctly observe, there is nothing particularly new about the young finding new ways to subvert the authority of parents and teachers. Every generation of American youth has revolted in its own way against established rules and moral norms, and every generation of adults has concluded that standards are collapsing. People will say, ''remember our shock at the first appearance of Elvis's gyrations on stage,'' or if they're old enough, they'll recall the public's reaction to new forms of lewd dancing that emerged in the 1920s.
Unfortunately, this reasoning, while partly true, only encourages the worst kind of cultural relativism and spreads a sense of futility among those who would seek to clean up the culture. Such reasoning reflects our loss of capacityand more importantly our willingnessto think critically enough about these things to distinguish between that which is merely new and trendy but nevertheless socially harmless, and that which can turn a marginal and alienated kid into a genuine sociopath. The refusal to distinguish between Elvis' hips and music that graphically portrays the simultaneous rape, hacking and dismemberment of women represents a profound sickness in itself.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This cultural relativism also leaves us is with kids having fewer and fewer mainstream ways to challenge the status quo represented by their parents. What happens when such things as tatoos, body piercing or male ear rings instantly become mainstreamed, even adopted by adults? Or what happens when there are few things left that will truly shock or offend? Is it possible that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold turned to a fascination with Hitler and death because nothing else remains that is considered socially provocative enough to build a unique identity around?
When this reasoning leads nowhere in the cultural debate, as it usually does, the defenders of bankrupt culture will resort to that ultimate conversation stopper: the first amendment. This argument basically says: this is about freedom, get used to it, next subject. While I believe we should have a fresh debate about the first amendment itself, what often passes for a discussion of the first amendment is nothing of the kind.
When defenders of the entertainment industry invoke the first amendment, they are rarely referring to a constitutional right to expression: often they are saying ''what I am free to do, I have an obligation to do.'' In other words, if someone wants the degraded or extreme material, I have an obligation to produce it. The reasoning here basically holds that a freedom not exercised is a freedom denied, or even a freedom threatened. In point of fact, it is this expansive and irresponsible view of freedom than could very well lead in time to the erosion of freedom. Just ask the schools that have been forced, in the wake of Littleton, to take draconian measures against those suspected of being capable of committing copycat crimes. The irresponsible use of freedom can quickly erode core rights of privacy and expression when the public panics over safety concerns.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing, I want to return to the topic of parenting. Of all the commentary following Littleton, the most frequently stated concern seemed to be directed toward parents. This is convenient and seems to fit with a broadly held perception of today's parents.
A very comprehensive survey conducted twice over the past two years by Public Agenda for the Ad Council has found a persistent pessimism among today's parents both toward the next generation of kids and toward parents. It is ''irresponsible parents'' that large majorities of adults blame for the problems of children and youth. But, as one is out championing parentingnamely fatherhoodevery day of the week, let me also issue a caution here. It is certainly true that there is a well-documented deficit in time and attention on the part of many parents, and many are blowing it altogether.
This generation has certainly produced its share of neglectful parents, but I would be prepared to argue that we have among us today perhaps the largest crop of outstanding parents of any generation as well. While many report disconnection, as I pointed out earlier, many surveys indicate that kids themselves give their parents fairly high marks.
What more and more parents are concluding, however, is that good parenting is not good enough in today's world. Parents feel powerless and they feel helpless in the face of forces that are both invading the home and pervading the world beyond. Parents find it next to impossible to ensure that the rules regarding videos and computer games they attempt to enforce in their own homes are enforced in locations outside the home. They are intimidated by the thought of appearing ''puritanical'' in the eyes of their kids, their kid's friends, or other parents.
The same Public Agenda survey that found parents blaming parents for the failings of youth found that 78% of the public believes it is harder to be a parent today, with nearly seventy percent siting violence and sex in popular entertainment as a ''very serious'' problem. Ninety-one percent of the public think it is either ''very common'' or ''somewhat common'' for parents to sacrifice in the face of these challenges.
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It is naiAE4ve to think we will conquer the problem of culture by merely insisting that parents build thicker and higher hedges of protection around their families. This would require a degree of isolation that the vast majority of parents are incapable of or unwilling to carry out. This is not only naiAE4ve: it is wrong. As David Blankenhorn, Author of Fatherless America, has put it: ''parenting should not require a heroic rebellion against the world beyond.''
If it is a mistake to think we can compensate for cultural ruin through a new generation of super-parents, it is also wrong to think that the answer is merely providing better protection in the form of more V-chips, better rating systems, or more effective ''net nannies.'' Even though I strongly support all of these measures, they are not enough, and at some basic level they wrongly absolve the producers of cultural pollution of their responsibility.
How is it that we have excused the executives of major entertainment companies of their most elementary duties of citizenship? When corporations pollute our air, we don't simply hand out gas masks and hope that individuals will take the initiative to use them. It is the pollution itself we declare to be bad. We mount up and resist the polluter, and we demand that emissions be cut. That is precisely what we must do in the area of popular mass culture.
There is no short cut here. No silver bullet. We must fix American problems the American way. At times of social breakdown and cultural loosening in the past, leaders and citizens joined together to promote responsibility movements throughout the key sectors of society. Yes, renewing parenting must be one of those priorities, as it was in the past, especially by confronting father absence in its many forms, as well as divorce. I believe that we are in the middle of a huge turn-of-the century awakening in the area of family.
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Part of that renewal of the family must consist of pushing back against the power of popular culture, where there is far more work to be done. Last year, the Council on Civil Society, which is an ideologically diverse group of prominent citizens and leaders that works under the auspices of the Institute for American Values, released a ''Call to Civil Society,'' which contained some sensible recommendations in this area. In ''The Call to Civil Society'' we urged the National Association of Broadcasters, the trade association of television networks and local television stations, ''to refurbish and re-adopt a television code that establishes minimum industry standards regarding the content and frequency of television advertising and the content of television programming. We described the abandonment of this code in 1952 to be a serious, far-reaching mistake.
Voluntary codes of this kind should be promoted, not merely among the major networks, but across all entertainment sectors. Voluntary codes of ethics and standards exist in the vast majority of professional fields. What not in the entertainment profession?
Whatever else we might have learned from Littleton, we have learned about our need to be serious about the degradation of our cultural environment. We must bring the same seriousness to improving our social ecology as has been brought to our natural environment.
The Civil Society Project
3544 North Progress Avenue, Suite 101
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe National Fatherhood Initiative
One Bank Street, Suite 160
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878
Mr. HYDE. Thank you very much, Mr. Eberly.
STATEMENT OF DEWEY G. CORNELL, PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
Mr. CORNELL. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members, I am Dr. Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and a professor in the School of Education at the University of Virginia.
I am here this morning with my colleagues Dr. Peter Sheras and Dr. Ann Loper. I direct the Virginia Youth Violence Project which studies school safety and violence prevention. For the past 15 years, I have conducted research on juveniles who have committed murder, and I have professionally evaluated many juvenile offenders, including the 14-year-old boy from Paducah who killed three of his classmates in a prayer group.
The recent high-profile shootings deserve our attention because they are symptomatic of more pervasive problems in our youth and culture. As we have seen across the country, there have been numerous bomb threats and hit lists, and we have identified other groups of youth who have conspired to commit similar acts of mass violence. We have probably prevented more school shootings than we have experienced.
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What is wrong with these young people? There is no single profile on the juvenile offender. There are three major categories.
First are the mentally ill, psychotic youth who constitute only about 5 percent of the juveniles who kill someone.
Second are the antisocial youth, about two-thirds of our serious violent offenders. They have a clear history of aggressive impulsive and defiant behavior, with problems evident in early childhood. They usually come from dysfunctional and disadvantaged families.
But the third group, the emotionally conflicted group, are involved in most of the school shootings. These youth are alienated, angry and depressed. They may be intelligent and capable, but they are not satisfied with their achievements, and they often feel treated unfairly by others. They are highly sensitive to teasing and bullying. They become more angry and depressed and their judgment becomes distorted, much like the suicidal person who thinks that life is not worth living and there is no way to solve his problems.
The school shootings were committed by white, middle-class youth who had many social and economic advantages. Although it is common to blame their parents, this cannot explain what their children did. At worst, we can say that these parents failed to recognize what was happening to their children. Instead, we have to recognize and focus on the role of broader cultural factors outside the home. There are many risk factors for violence, and many young people today have one or more risk factors but do not engage in violent behavior.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In order for violence to occur, there must be three factors: a motive, a method of committing violence, and a means of carrying out the violence.
Motive. The motives for the school shootings are not new. They are familiar to anyone who remembers their teenage years. These young people are the angry outcasts who join rebellious, countercultural groups, whether they are beatniks, hippies or goths.
Method. More disturbing is their method of violence. To charge into a building and try and kill as many people as possible is an enactment of video violence, the kind of violence that you see on movies and play on video games. Today, extreme violence is a primary form of entertainment, and through the Internet, children are exposed to antisocial attitudes and hate-filled ideologies. We protect adults from consumer fraud and deceptive advertising better than we protect our children from these salesmen of hate and violence.
Scientific studies provide overwhelming evidence that television violence encourages aggressive behavior and has a long-term effect on children, yet the entertainment industry cannot accept these scientific findings any more than the tobacco industry could accept that cigarette smoking results in cancer.
Representatives from the entertainment industry will simplistically point out that millions of children are exposed to video violence and never commit a violent crime. In reply, be sure to ask them how can it be that when millions are exposed to a flu virus, only a small proportion become ill and only a handful die. We need to recognize that the violence pervasive in our culture is like an environmental toxin. Everyone is exposed, but only those who are most vulnerable or have the greatest exposure are effected.
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Today, we have a lot of children infected with violence, but it is not a virus, it is a learned behavior. Someone taught these kids in the trench coat mafia to admire Hitler and how to make pipe bombs rather than teaching them tolerance and respect for others.
Finally, means. The means to carry out these violent plans is the ready availability of firearms. Guns are not the cause of the violence, but they provide the means.
Here are my recommendations. All public schools should conduct regular instruction on conflict resolution and understanding violence. We have programs which we have examined with controlled outcome studies, and we know that they work.
Second, all public schools should have a professionally trained staff member designated solely to provide risk assessment, crisis intervention and short-term mental health counseling with potentially violent students.
Regarding the method, all video games and movies with extremely violent content should carry clear and simple warnings, not an obscure code. We need a person on the screen who says something straightforward like, ''Parents, this is an extremely violent show. Violent shows do have a negative effect on children, and you may not want your children to watch this show.''
Next, children under 18 should not be able to purchase extremely violent video games or movie tapes. Extremely violent websites should be labeled so that their parents can lock them out with their browser software.
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Finally, minors should not possess firearms unless under the immediate supervision of a parent or adult guardian. It should be a crime to allow a child unsupervised access to firearms.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Dr. Cornell.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cornell follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DEWEY G. CORNELL, PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
PSYCHOLOGY OF THE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members, Ladies, and Gentlemen. I am Dr. Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and a professor in the School of Education at the University of Virginia. I direct the Virginia Youth Violence Project which studies school safety and violence prevention. For the past 15 years I have conducted research on the psychological profiles of juveniles who have committed murder, and I have professionally evaluated many juvenile offenders, including the 14-year-old boy from Paducah who fired into a prayer group and killed 3 of his classmates.
Let me begin with some good news. Violent crime by juveniles is down. After ten years of steady increase, juvenile violence has declined substantially for the past 5 years. We can no longer say ''nothing works.'' There is now a substantial body of scientifically rigorous research telling us what works (see reviews by Cornell, 1999; Lipsey and Wilson, 1997; Sherman et al., 1997). Problem-oriented, community policing works. Controlled studies tell us that teaching young people how to resolve conflicts, linking them with mentors, and giving them healthy and constructive activities after school prevents delinquent behavior. Rehabilitative treatment for juvenile offenders, especially with community-based and in-home follow-up, reduces criminal recidivism. Well-run, adequately staffed programs are highly cost-effective (for example, see Karoly, et al., 1998).
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Despite our progress, we have a problem with violence and threats of violence in our schools. Although overall crime in schools has not increased, in the past two years we have had a series of high-profile shootings with multiple victims. The media attention given to these shootings has generated substantial fear and concern in the general public. Although I am concerned about the effects of sensational and exploitive news coverage of traumatized victims and terrified parents, these shootings deserve our attention because they are symptomatic of more pervasive problems in our youth culture. Across the country we have had waves of bomb threats, angry youth have drawn up hit lists, and in some cases we have discovered groups of youth who have conspired to obtain weapons and commit similar atrocities. We have probably prevented more school shootings than we have experienced.
Profiles of Violent Youth
How do we understand these troubling events? Who are these young people and what is wrong with them? First let me emphasize that there is no single profile of the violent juvenile offender. Over the past 15 years my work has focused on 3 major categories of violent youth (Cornell, Benedek, & Benedek, 1987; Cornell, 1999). First are the mentally ill youth who are psychotic and suffer from delusions that guide their behavior. This constitutes only about 5% of the youth who kill someone.
Second are the antisocial youth. About 2/3 of the juveniles who commit homicide have a long history of delinquent or disruptive behavior, with problems evident in early childhood. They are aggressive, impulsive, dishonest, and generally below average intelligence. Drug use and gang membership are common. They tend to come from disadvantaged homes and dysfunctional families. These are the youth who drove up violent crime in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
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The third group is most puzzling, because they often appear to be normal youngsters whose acts of violence surprise us. However, these youth are emotionally troubled and conflictedalienated, angry, and depressed. They may be intelligent and capable, but they are not satisfied with their achievements and often feel unfairly treated by others. Although they may have some friends, they feel lonely and isolated. They are highly sensitive to teasing and bullying, and are deeply resentful, ruminating over perceived injustices. As they become more depressed, their judgement and perspective becomes distorted, like the suicidal person who thinks life isn't worth living and that there is no way to solve their problems other than dying. In this case, however, the conflicted youth decides to kill others rather than himself. These are the youth who are involved in most of the school shootings.
We can learn from these school shootings because they reflect factors not typical of the antisocial offenders. They challenge our stereotypes and force us recognize violent influences we otherwise might overlook. They were committed by white, middle class youth who had many social and economic advantages. Many of them came from good homes where they were loved, not abused, by their parents. Many of their parents were well-respected citizens and good role models for their children. Although it is common to blame the parents in these cases, this cannot explain what their children did. At worst, we can say that these parents failed to recognize what was happening to their children, not that they caused it to happen. A breakdown in parental supervision is a serious problem, but it is not the full explanation. Instead, we have to recognize the role of broader cultural factors affecting children outside the home.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are many risk factors for violence, and many young people today have one or more risk factors, yet do not engage in violent behavior. In order for violence to occur, there must be a motive for violence, a method of committing violence which the child has learned, and a means of carrying out the violence. Let's consider the motive, method, and means of the recent school shootings.
Motive. The motives are not new, they are familiar to anyone who remembers their teenage years. These are young people who are outcasts from their peers. Often they are victims of bullying and teasing. They join rebellious cliques that are attracted to counter-cultural ideas, whether they are beatniks, hippies, or goths. Within these counter-cultural groups some youth are especially vulnerablemore angry, alienated, and depressed than their peers, and more susceptible to friends who encourage them to act out or take revenge. In case after case I have seen youth who discussed the possibility of murder with their friends and were advised to go ahead and do it.
Method. Even more disturbing is the horrific method of these murders. To charge into a building and try to kill as many people as possible is an enactment of video violence. This is the kind of violence you see in the movies and play on video games. Children of today live in a social environment where violence is a primary form of entertainment, and they are exposed to values and ideas which reinforce and glorify violence. In case after case I have observed just how easily the lessons of well-meaning and capable parents are overpowered by the compelling and pervasive messages of violence in our modern video culture. We protect adults from consumer fraud and deceptive advertising better than we protect our children from these salesmen of hate and violence. As a society, we must be more concerned about the daily doses of extreme violence administered to our children through television, video games, music, and the internet. Repeated exposure to messages of violence and hatred over time desensitize many young people, distort their perceptions of personal safety, and erode inhibitions against harming others.
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Scientific studies provide overwhelming evidence that television violence encourages aggressive behavior and has a long-term effect on children (see reviews in Berkowitz, 1993; Donnerstein, Slaby, & Eron, 1995; Hughes, & Hasbrouck, 1996). Yet the entertainment industry cannot accept these findings any more than the tobacco industry could accept that cigarette smoking results in cancer. Concern over our children is cunningly transformed into a debate over constitutional freedom. We have trouble appreciating causal effects that are subtle, indirect, and cumulative over long periods of time. What's the harm in one video game or one cigarette?
I know you will hear representatives from the entertainment industry who simplistically point out that millions of children exposed to video violence never commit a violent act; in reply, be sure to ask them how it can be that when millions are exposed to a flu virus, only a small proportion become ill, and only a handful die. The violence pervasive in our culture is like an environmental toxin; everyone is exposed to it, but only those who are most vulnerable or have the greatest exposure, are affected.
Today we have a lot of children infected with violence, but it's not a virus, it's a learned behavior. Violence is learned (Berkowitz, 1993; Perry, Perry, & Boldizar, 1990). Someone taught the kids in the Trenchcoat Mafia to admire Hitler and how to make pipebombs rather than to tolerate differences and respect others.
Means. Finally, the means to carry out these violent plans is the ready availability of firearms. Without access to guns, none of these school tragedies could have taken place. Guns are a critical risk factor. When juvenile homicide tripled in this country in just ten years, all of the increase was in gun-related killing (Cornell, 1993; Snyder & Sickmund, 1995). There was no increase in juveniles stabbing or beating one another to death. Guns are not the cause of the violence, but they provide the means.
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A comprehensive policy to reduce youth violence and prevent more school shootings should address the motives, methods, and means I have just described. Here are some ideas for your consideration:
Motive. First, address the motives for violence through education and training for students and their parents. All public schools receiving Safe and Drug-Free Schools funding should:
1. Conduct at least 1 hour of instruction each month on conflict resolution and understanding of violence. Students at all grade levels should participate. In addition, there should be voluntary instruction available to parents on child discipline, conflict resolution, and understanding violence.
2. Have a professionally trained staff member designated solely to provide risk assessment, crisis intervention, and short-term mental health counseling with potentially violent students. There should be the equivalent of one full-time position for every 1,000 students.
Method. To address the methods by which children learn to engage in violence, we should give parents information and tools to supervise their children's exposure to extremely violent entertainment.
1. All video games and movies with extremely violent content should carry clear, simple warnings, not an obscure code. We need a person on the screen who says something straightforward like, ''Parents, this is an extremely violent show. Violent shows do have a negative effect on children. You may not want your children to watch this show.''
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2. Children under age 18 should not be permitted to purchase extremely violent video games or movie tapes.
3. All websites with extremely violent content or advice on how to engage in violence (e.g., make bombs, commit murder) should be labeled so that parents can lock them out with their browser software.
Means. Finally, to limit the means by which youth can engage in homicidal violence, we must reduce their access to firearms.
1. Minors cannot possess firearms or have them in their cars unless under the immediate supervision of a parent or a parent-approved adult supervisor.
2. It should be a crime to allow a child unsupervised access to firearms. Persons who purchase a firearm should receive notification that it is illegal to allow an unsupervised child access to firearms, and that they must take reasonable precautions to keep firearms out of the hands of unsupervised children.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today. I hope my testimony will be of some assistance.
Berkowitz, L. (1993). Aggression: Its causes, consequences, and control. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
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Cornell, D. (1993). Juvenile homicide: A growing national problem. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 11, 389396.
Cornell, D. G. (1999). What works in youth violence prevention. Charlottesville, VA: Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. (Available at http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/youthvio.)
Cornell, D. (1999). Child and adolescent homicide. In Vincent B. Van Hasselt & Michel Hersen (Eds.). Handbook of psychological approaches with violent criminal offenders: Contemporary strategies and issues (pp. 131152). New York: Kluwer Academic.
Cornell, D., Benedek, E., & Benedek, D. (1987). Juvenile homicide: Prior adjustment and a proposed typology. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 383393.
Donnerstein, E., Slaby, R. G., & Eron, L. D. (1995). The mass media and youth aggression. In L.D. Eron, J.H. Gentry, & P. Schlegel (Eds.). Reason to hope: A psychological perspective on violence and youth (pp 219250). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Hughes, J. N., & Hasbrouck, J. E. (1996). Television violence: Implications for violence prevention. School Psychology Review, 25, 134151.
Karoly, L. A., Greenwood, S. M., Everingham, J. H., Kilburn, M. R., Rydell, C. P., Sanders, M. R., Chiesa, J. R. (1998). Investing in our children: What we know and don't know about the cost and benefits of early childhood interventions (Document No. MR898TCWF). Santa Monica, CA.
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Lipsey, M. W., & Wilson, D. B. (1997). Effective intervention for serious juvenile offenders: A synthesis of research. Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies. Nashville, TN.
Perry, D. G., Perry, L. C., & Boldizar, J. P. (1990). Learning of aggression. In M. Lewis, S. M. Miller (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychopathology (135146). NY: Plenum.
Sherman, L. W., Gottfredson, D., MacKenzie, D., Eck, J., Reuter, P., Bushway, S., (1997). Preventing crime: What works, what doesn't, what's promising: A report to the United States Congress. Washington, D.D.: National Institute of Justice. (Available at http://www.ncjrs.org/works/).
Snyder, H. N., & Sickmund, M. (1995). Juvenile offenders and victims: A national report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
WHAT WORKS IN YOUTH VIOLENCE PREVENTION
April 25, 1999. A version of this paper will appear as a chapter in Cornell, D., Loper, A., Atkinson, A., and Sheras, P. (in press). Youth Violence Prevention in Virginia: A Needs Assessment, prepared for the Virginia Department of Health. For additional information call 8049248929.
For many years violence prevention strategies have been based largely on theoretical or ideological assumptions about ''what works,'' in the absence of objective, scientific evidence. Indeed, so many ill-conceived strategies were so often found to be ineffective, that many delinquency prevention critics popularized the cynical view that ''nothing works.'' Such a pessimistic view is no longer tenable. Juvenile violence can be prevented and juvenile offenders can be rehabilitated. One goal of this report is to bring attention to the existence of a substantial and growing body of scientifically credible evidence which can be used to implement sound and cost-effective prevention programs.
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This chapter will present a selective overview of prevention strategies found to reduce juvenile violence and associated problems such as substance abuse, property crime, and disruptive behavior. Readers interested in the scientific evidence can turn to several extensive, quantitative evaluations of literature (Greenwood, Model, Rydell, & Cheisa, 1998; Lipsey & Wilson, 1997; Sherman et al., 1997).
Some caveats: No strategy is effective for all youth or all settings. Every prevention program will have youth who fail, and unfortunately, failure inevitably receives more attention than success, and can distort perceptions of program effectiveness. All programs are vulnerable to these misperceptions if they fail to routinely and rigorously document overall success rates. Programs which can reduce violent crime by even 1020% are likely to be cost-effective, in light of the high cost of juvenile crime for victims, communities, and the criminal justice system.
Finally, even the best validated program will not succeed if it is not adequately funded and faithfully implemented by competent staff. A new treatment program must be sufficiently well specified in training manuals and guides, or through supervisory oversight by qualified practitioners, that it can be replicated in a new setting. More generally, programs must demonstrate adequate treatment fidelity, i.e., they must faithfully implement the actual treatment program as it was designed. All too often programs have rushed to implement new treatment programs without adequate training and preparation, so that treatment failure is a result of poor implementation, not an inadequate treatment model (for example, see Henggeler, Melton, Brondino, Scherer, & Hanley, 1997). Staff training and general quality control have often been neglected in prevention settings.
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Mentoring is a relatively inexpensive program in which adult volunteers spend time each week with children or adolescents, typically engaged in recreational or educational activities. A controlled experiment with 959 youth in 8 cities found that the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program resulted in a 46% reduction in drug use, a 32% reduction in hitting people, and a 52% reduction in truancy (Grossman & Garry, 1997; Tierney & Grossman, 1995). Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America can be contacted at 2155677000.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) supported the expansion of mentoring efforts through its Juvenile Mentoring Program (JUMP; OJJDP, 1998). JUMP has funded 93 mentoring projects as well as 6 SafeFutures community grants which include mentoring programs. Mentoring is also supported through the State Formula Grants program of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
Despite the widespread popularity of mentoring, there has been relatively little research on the characteristics of successful mentors or successful mentoring relationships. What criteria should be used in selecting mentors and matching them to youth? How should mentors proceed to establish positive relationships with at-risk youth? These are important questions since some studies report that approximately half of mentor pairings fail to develop into ongoing relationships (Freedman, 1993; Morrow & Styles, 1995).
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A descriptive study by Morrow and Styles (1995) offered some hypotheses and directions for future research. The authors distinguished between ''developmental'' and ''prescriptive'' styles of mentoring. Developmental mentors were more flexible and relationship-focused in their approach to their youth, while prescriptive were more directive and tended to prescribe activities and topics of discussion. At follow-up nine months later, developmental mentors were more likely to still be working with their little brothers/sisters while most prescriptive relationships had terminated.
Supervised recreational programs
The peak times for juvenile crime occur during the hours immediately after school (Sickmund, Snyder, & Poe-Yamagata, 1997). The level of juvenile offending at 3 pm on school days is over three times greater than it is at noon or midnight. Many youth are unsupervised after school because their parents are at work. The lack of coordination between school and work in our society is an underlying structural problem in controlling juvenile crime. For this reason, after-school programs are of great potential value and deserve serious consideration in prevention planning for any community.
Most recreational programs have not been adequately tested. For example, there is little hard evidence concerning midnight basketball. However, several controlled studies have found that well-supervised after-school recreational programs substantially reduce juvenile crime, drug use, and vandalism. The Boys & Girls Club recreation and drug prevention program (Schinke, Orlandi, & Cole, 1992) was effective in two studies conducted in a series of public housing projects. A Canadian study (Jones & Offord, 1989) of another intensive after-school program (using sports, music, dancing, and scouting) demonstrated a 75% reduction in juvenile arrests, while arrests at a comparison site rose 67%.
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The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has over 1,700 affiliated clubs serving over 2.2 million children (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1995). Clubs provide a wide range of educational and counseling recreational services in addition to recreational programs. The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs is to provide supervised recreational and educational programs to at-risk youth. Specific programs vary from club to club depending on what is needed in the community. A study of ten Boys & Girls Clubs by the U.S. Office of Substance Abuse Prevention reported 22% lower levels of drug activity and increased levels of parent involvement (Schinke, Cole, & Orlandi, 1991). A rigorously designed three-year longitudinal study of 16 Clubs in eight states (St. Pierre, Mark, Kaltreider, Aikin, 1997) also found reductions in alcohol and drug use, particularly in clubs which included active parent involvement. Clubs typically are open 56 days a week for 45 hours each day and are staffed by full-time youth workers as well as volunteers. Contact Boys & Girls Clubs of America (4048155751) or the Bureau of Justice Assistance Clearinghouse (8006884252).
For the most criminally active and dangerous gangs, no method has more demonstrable success than aggressive law enforcement leading to the arrest and incarceration of gang leaders. Although new leaders may emerge in some cases, in many instances gangs have been neutralized or eradicated (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1997). One of the more effective means of preventing firearm-related juvenile crimes is stringent enforcement of laws against illegal gun carrying (Kennedy, Piehl & Braga, 1996; Sherman et al., 1997).
In its report, ''Promising strategies to reduce gun violence,'' the U.S. Department of Justice describes 60 methods of responding to gun violence (Sheppard, 1999). These methods focus on three basic strategies: interrupting the supply of illegal guns, deterring illegal possession of guns, and aggressive prosecution and sentencing of those who commit gun violence or illegally supply guns to juveniles. For additional information contact the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse at 8006388736).
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Recently the National Institute of Justice (NIJ; Sherman et al., 1997) released a massive report on ''what works'' in preventing crime, based on reviews of hundreds of studies. Among the most effective policing strategies are:
increased patrol of high-crime street corners
arrests of serious repeat offenders
arrests of drunk drivers.
Notably ineffective policing practices are:
neighborhood block watches
arrests of juveniles for minor offenses
drug market arrests.
Community policing is a broad term and some programs labeled as community policing are not effective (Sherman et al., 1997). The most effective community policing programs seemed to have strong community participation in priority setting and a problem-oriented focus. Also noteworthy is the new research emphasis on the importance of strengthening police credibility and legitimacy with the general public, which suggests that it is important from a prevention perspective for police officers to maintain trust and respect through the quality of their everyday interactions with citizens (Tyler, 1990). Contact the Bureau of Justice Assistance (8004216770). The NIJ report is available through the world wide web (http://www.ncjrs.org/works/).
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Parents can be taught to be effective in managing their children's behavior, but a brief course is not sufficient. Effective programs involve parents in ongoing relationships and training sessions that last from six months to several years. This investment pays off in reduced delinquency and better school adjustment for many years afterwards. Several parent education programs are available from the Communities That Care organization (Hawkins & Catalano, 1992), and can be obtained from Developmental Research and Programs, Inc. (8007362630).
There is good research evidence that parent management training is effective with aggressive and disobedient children (Brestan & Eyberg, 1998; Cedar & Levant, 1990; Kazdin, 1997). Parent training for families with aggressive young children is a verifiably cost-effective strategy for preventing future crime (Greenwood, Model, Rydell, Chiesa, 1998). Here are some of the more well-validated approaches to parent education:
Parent Management Training for Conduct Disordered Children is the most influential parent training model for antisocial children. Developed by Patterson (1992) at the University of Oregon Social Learning Center, the program teaches parents more effective methods of disciplining and managing their children.
The Barkley Parent Training Program provides an explicit manual used widely to train parents of children with severe behavior problems (Barkley, 1997). The program teaches a 10-step model supported by regular consultation with a therapist.
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The Parenting Program for Young Children developed by Carolyn Webster-Stratton (Webster Stratton, 1982, 1992, 1997, 1998) is a well-validated psychosocial intervention program. This 24-week program is delivered to groups of parents in 2-hour weekly meetings using video vignettes to demonstrate positive parenting techniques.
Family and Schools Together (FAST) is a more comprehensive program which incorporates parent training and home visits along with school-based efforts to improve the social skills and academic performance of elementary school children. FAST has been implemented in more than 26 states. Notably, the program has a high retention rate; 88% of the families which attend one multifamily session go on to complete the program (Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group, 1992; McDonald, Billingham, Conrad, Morgan, et. al, 1997).
As part of parent education, parents should also be encouraged to limit their children's exposure to violent television shows, movies, and video games. Despite mixed public opinion, and objections by the media industry, there is extensive, conclusive research establishing that television violence has a detrimental effect on children (American Psychological Association, 1997; Donnerstein, Slaby, & Eron, 1994; Hughes & Hasbrouck, 1996). Numerous formal experiments in clinical settings and schools, as well as long-term prospective field studies following young children into adulthood, demonstrate conclusively that exposure to media violence increases aggressive behavior. Among the effects of media violence are that children learn to expect and anticipate violence in their daily life, they are desensitized to violence and may even develop positive attitudes toward the use of violence, they may fail to fully appreciate the negative consequences of violence, and in some cases they engage in violence because they believe it to a source of social status or an effective way to solve problems.
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Few social influences are more pervasive than entertainment media violence, yet it has been difficult to convince parents to make greater efforts to supervise their children's viewing habits. In some respects, this represents a public health problem comparable to other public health challenges, such as reducing smoking, increasing exercise, and improving diet. Like smoking, the adverse effects may develop slowly over a long period of time, and only a small proportion of the population may experience the worst outcomes. Moreover, well-ingrained habitswhether it be smoking, over-eating, or watching too much televisionare difficult to change in part because they are so commonplace and socially acceptable. Sustained, widespread public educational efforts undoubtedly have made a difference in such areas as smoking and diet, so it is reasonable to assume that comparable efforts also might be effective. In Canada, a highly successful, grassroots campaign to reduce television violence had substantial impact on national viewing habits as well as media policy and industry practices. For information on this effort, contact the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in Canada (CRTC Public Affairs, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2; telephone 8199970313.
Family therapy refers to a host of different treatment approaches linked by their common emphasis on treating the whole family rather than individuals. The literature on family therapy is too extensive to summarize here. Functional family therapy (Alexander & Parsons, 1982) is one form of family therapy which has been especially effective with delinquent youth. Treatment makes use of cognitive and behavioral methods to improve family relationships and increase reciprocity and cooperation among family members. Outcome studies demonstrated that functional family therapy improved family relationships and reduced recidivism among adolescents referred by juvenile court for offenses such as truancy, theft, and unmanageable behavior (Klein, Alexander, & Parsons, 1977).
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Multisystemic therapy (Family Services Research Center, 1995; Henggeler, 1991) is one of the most cost-effective and demonstrably effective treatments for high-risk or delinquent children and their families. In controlled outcome studies, multisystemic therapy has proven to be superior to standard treatments for chronic juvenile offenders, inner-city at-risk youth, child-abusive families, and other traditionally difficult populations. Multisystemic therapy is a relatively short-term (16 months) but intensive form of therapy which is aimed at strengthening family functioning.
A hallmark of the multisystemic approach is the therapist's role as a problem-solver who works closely with parents to identify and remedy problems in a wide variety of areas, ranging from a child's school attendance to marital discord. Typically, therapists begin treatment by visiting the family several times a week for sessions ranging from 15 to 90 minutes, and later gradually taper contacts prior to termination. Therapists make flexible use of family therapy, parent education, and cognitive-behavioral techniques to improve family relationships, strengthen parental authority and effectiveness, and modify children's behavior. This approach is carefully described in a treatment manual (Henggeler, 1991; see also Henggeler & Bourdin, 1990). It is important that therapists faithfully adhere to MST principles and procedures for this treatment to be effective; a recent study (Henggeler, Melton, Brondino, Scherer, & Hanley, 1997) found that MST effectiveness declined when therapists failed to follow the treatment model. Information is available from the Family Services Research Center for the Medical University of South Carolina (8037928003).
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is extensive evidence that some preschool programs, especially when combined with weekly home visits over a period of years, can have substantial, long-term impact on families and the quality of a child's adjustment (Tremblay & Craig, 1995; Yoshikawa, 1994). Some programs like the Perry Preschool Project found that children randomly assigned to the preschool and home visit program not only did better in school than control children, but had fewer arrests as juveniles and adults (Berreuta-Clement, et al., 1985). A strength of the Perry Preschool Project was its emphasis on facilitating parent involvement in children's academic and social development. Information on early childhood programs can be obtained from Project Head Start (2022058572) or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (8004242460).
The most up-to-date analysis and synthesis of the evidence is contained in a recent RAND report, Investing in our children: What we know and don't know about the costs and benefits of early childhood interventions (Karoly, Greenwood, Everingham, Hoube, Kilburn, Rydell, Sanders, & Chiesa, 1998), available from RAND Distribution Services (3104516915 or e-mail email@example.com). This report distinguishes between the weak evidence supporting many programs and strong evidence in support of several programs which have verifiable, long-term benefits.
Conflict resolution and peer mediation
The heart of conflict resolution is teaching students to listen carefully and respectfully to another person's point of view, accept that there are meaningful differences, and develop creative, mutually satisfactory solutions. Furthermore, students can be taught to mediate disputes between peers by facilitating a dialogue through which disputants find their own solution. The National Institute for Dispute Resolution estimates that there are over 8,500 conflict mediation programs nationwide. Although stand-alone peer mediation programs have not been examined in rigorous, controlled outcome studies (Gottfredson, 1997), there is more convincing evidence in support of comprehensive programs incorporating peer mediation and other forms of conflict resolution. For example, Johnson and Johnson (1995a) conducted extensive research in support of the ''peacemaker'' approach, using whole-school or cadre methods, with programs for all grade levels. Their controlled outcome studies (Johnson & Johnson, 1995b) demonstrated that students can learn and retain conflict resolution skills, and subsequently apply their skills to actual conflicts in both school and family settings. Their program reduced overall school problems and facilitated academic achievement.
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There are many resources for additional information, including the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (2024664764; email firstname.lastname@example.org) and the New Mexico Center for Dispute Resolution (5052470571). The National Resource Center for Youth Mediation has extensive training materials (8002496884). The Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse (8006388736) provides a guide to conflict resolution education programs, Conflict resolution education: A guide to implementing programs in schools, youth-serving organizations, and community and juvenile justice settings. Additional information is available from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program of the U.S. Department of Education (2022603954).
Violence prevention counseling
Violence prevention counseling can help aggressive youth cope with their frustration and hostility, and resolve conflicts without fighting. For example, the Duke University ''Coping Power'' program developed by Lochman (1992) to teach aggressive youth to cope with their anger has been shown to help children correct distortions in their perceptions of social interactions and choose non-violent alternative courses of action. Hammond and colleagues have developed the Positive Adolescents Choices Training (PACT) program for work specifically with African-American youth (Hammond, 1991; Hammond & Yung, 1993). PACT uses culturally sensitive videotapes to teach youth social skills such as strategies for expressing and responding to criticism and negotiating solutions to disputes.
The Violence Prevention Curriculum for adolescents is part of the Teenage Health Teaching Modules (THTM) program. Developed by Deborah Prothrow-Stith, the curriculum lends itself to working in schools with anger management, family violence, media violence and dating violence. Teachers use handouts and videos to teach the program. Evidence of program effectiveness is available (Grossman et al.,1997).
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Overall, there is considerable research in support of cognitive-behavioral approaches which not only reduce aggressive behavior, but in some studies also improve school attendance and grades, and reduce substance abuse (Bry, 1982; Izzo, & Ross, 1990; Lochman, 1992; Rotheram, 1982). Unfortunately, some briefer, but more popular approaches to violence prevention have not been well-supported. For information on the ''Coping Power'' program contact Dr. John Lochman (9196848732). For information on PACT, contact Research Press (2173523273). For information about a wide range of anger control and violence prevention programs, contact PAVNET (Partnerships Against Violence Network), which is a virtual library of reports and guidebooks from seven different Federal agencies (http://www.pavnet.org/).
Bullying is a pervasive problem which is often overlooked or minimized in schools. Because bullying is so pervasive, it is sometimes regarded as a normal or inevitable part of growing up. On the contrary, research (Boulton & Underwood, 1992; Craig, 1998; Crick, 1998; Crick & Bigbee, 1998; Furlong, Chung, Bates, & Morrison, 1995; Gilmartin, 1987; Kochenderfer & Ladd, 1996; Neary & Joseph, 1994; Slee & Rigby, 1993) indicates that school victimization has substantial and lasting effects on children's social and emotional adjustment. In one study, approximately 3/4 of midwestern school children reported some episodes of bullying, with about 14 percent experiencing severe reactions to abuse (Hoover, Oliver, & Hazler, 1992). Repeatedly victimized children often experience a variety of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Victims tend to feel unsafe at school and are more likely to have school attendance problems than other students. Victims of chronic bullying continue to exhibit social adjustment problems in adulthood. Young bullies develop attitudes and values which lead to more serious aggressive behavior in adolescence. Adult tolerance for bullying sends the wrong message to children and promotes acceptance of coercion, harassment, derogation, and violence as means of controlling others.
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School-wide campaigns which condemn bullying and encourage more appropriate behavior can dramatically reduce bullying, and in turn lower the likelihood of later aggression and delinquency which often follows. Dan Olweus developed and tested a highly successful program used first in Norway and later in the United States and other countries. Olweus (1997) evaluated the effectiveness of this program in 42 primary and secondary schools in Norway. He found a 50% reduction in bully/victim problems, as well as marked reductions in vandalism, truancy, and fighting. For information on this bullying program, the book Bullying at SchoolWhat We Know and What We Can Do can be ordered from Blackwell Press (8002162522).
There are numerous programs and guides for schools to conduct bullying reduction campaigns (National School Safety Center, 1999). For example, Bully-Proofing Your School (Garrity, 1994) is a prevention program designed to make the school environment physically and psychologically safer. Through staff training, student instruction, intervention with bullies, and collaboration with victims and parents, the program uses role-playing, modeling and class discussions to teach anger control and empathy, and strategies for victims. Another guide, Preventing Bullying: A Manual for Schools and Communities can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Education (18774337827 or www.ed.gov/pubs/index.html). A list of resources is available from the National School Safety Center (8053739977).
Social competence development
Children as young as age 4 can be taught to solve interpersonal problems in an empathic and considerate manner. Social competence generally refers to the ability to get along with others and cope with problems effectively. There are several well-designed and rigorously evaluated programs which teach social competence (Greenberg, Kusche, Cook, & Quamma, 1995; Caplan, Weissberg, Grober, Sivo, Grady, & Jacoby, 1992). One of the best-known programs, Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving (ICPS, also known as ''I Can Problem Solve'') was developed by Myrna Shure and colleagues over the course of thirty-five years of research. This approach teaches children to identify problems, recognize the feelings and perspectives of others, consider the consequences of alternative solutions, and then choose the best course of action. There are inexpensive manuals and workbooksfrom preschool to grade 6which can be used by either teachers or parents (Shure, 1992, 1996a, 1996b). Numerous evaluations, including multi-year follow-up studies, document that training improves children's behavior and generalizes across classroom, home, and peer situations (Shure, 1997). Children are less impulsive and disruptive, and more cooperative and prosocial with peers and adults. For ICPS materials, contact Research Press (2173523275).
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The Primary Mental Health Prevention (PMHP) project is one of the oldest and most respected school-based programs for identifying and treating children at risk for emotional and behavioral problems (Cowen, et al., 1996). PMHP has changed and evolved over the course of nearly 40 years, with a basic model involving carefully supervised, paraprofessional counseling for children with emotional or behavioral problems. There are specialized components to teach social problem-solving, assist children with divorced parents, facilitate peer relationships and encourage cooperative learning (the ''Study Buddy'' program). A variety of large-scale, multi-year program evaluations involving thousands of students documented positive changes in the emotional and behavioral adjustment of PMHP children. PMHP has a well-established dissemination and training program; the model is now formally employed in California (180 school districts), Connecticut (23), New York (134), and Washington (34), with more than a dozen other states implementing similar programs in one or more school districts. Dr. Hightower directs the PMHP at the University of Rochester (7162735957).
Drug education programs typically involve school-based instruction about the negative effects of alcohol and drug use, accompanied by efforts to encourage responsible decision making. No prevention program is more popular, or more controversial, than Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.). D.A.R.E. began in 1983 as a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District and has been adopted in over 70% of the nation's school districts, as well as 44 foreign countries (Law Enforcement News, 1996). The original core curriculum was designed for uniformed police officers to teach a specific drug prevention curriculum to students in their last (5th or 6th) grade of elementary school. The core curriculum has been the subject of extensive research, although there are D.A.R.E. programs for other grade levels which have received much less attention.
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In 1994, Ringwalt and colleagues (Ringwalt, Greene, Ennett, Iachan, Clayton, & Leukefeld, 1994) released an evaluation of the D.A.R.E. program based on a meta-analysis of eight methodologically rigorous studies. All eight studies assessed students before and after completion of the core D.A.R.E. curriculum and included control groups of students not receiving D.A.R.E.. Overall, the studies involved more than 9,300 students and 215 schools. The results indicated that D.A.R.E. was most effective at increasing knowledge about drug use and in improving social skills. There was a small improvement in attitudes toward police, attitudes about drug use, and self-esteem. Unfortunately, however, the effect size for reported drug and alcohol use was not statistically significant. These results helped generate a storm of criticism and often contentious debate concerning the merits of D.A.R.E.. Some researchers and reporters who presented unfavorable findings about D.A.R.E. effectiveness were the recipients of harsh criticism and even harassment (Glass, 1998; Rosenbaum & Hanson, 1998).
In defense of D.A.R.E., one limitation of most outcomes studies was that they examined drug and alcohol use shortly after completion of D.A.R.E., when students are 11 or 12 years old and the baseline rates of drug use are so low that the effects of D.A.R.E. might not be evident. To overcome this limitation, Rosenbaum and Hanson (1998) reported results of a six year longitudinal study of 1,798 students from 36 schools. This methodologically rigorous study employed randomized control groups and corrected for many statistical and methodological problems of previous studies. There were expectations that this study would salvage D.A.R.E.'s reputation and demonstrate conclusively that it was effective. Unfortunately, this study again found that D.A.R.E. did not reduce drug use, and in suburban schools, D.A.R.E. was associated with a 35% increase in drug use.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC D.A.R.E. is an appealing, popular program which has fostered cooperation between education and law enforcement. It has many benefits for students, including increased knowledge about drugs and improved attitudes toward law enforcement. Nevertheless, the research evidence about D.A.R.E. effectiveness in reducing drug use has been weak and cannot be discounted (Gottfredson, 1997). To its credit, D.A.R.E. has made changes to its curriculum and focused more efforts on older students who are most likely to use drugs. Recently, D.A.R.E. advocates and critics have met to discuss constructive methods of improving D.A.R.E. and resolving some of the controversial question about D.A.R.E. effectiveness (William Modzeleski, personal communication, February 26, 1999).
Educators are well-advised not to fashion their own alternatives to D.A.R.E., since many non-D.A.R.E. drug education programs are either ineffective or worse, have the unintended effect of increasing drug use (Rosenbaum & Hanson, 1998).
There is, however, evidence that some drug education programs are effective. Interactive programs that emphasize interpersonal skills to counter peer pressure and use a participatory teaching approach are more effective than programs which rely on moral exhortation, fear arousal, or self-esteem building (Gottfredson, 1997; Ringwalt, Greene, Ennett, Iachan, Clayton, & Leukefeld, 1994).
Life Skills Training (Botvin & Eng, 1982; Botvin, Baker, Botvin et al., 1984; Botvin, Baker, Renick et al., 1984; Botvin, Batson et al., 1989) delivers a broad approach to social competency and skills development through 16 sessions for 7th grade students, with eight booster sessions in grades 8 and 9. Information on Life Skills Training can be obtained from the Institute of Preventative Research at Cornell Medical College (2127461270).
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ALERT (Ellickson & Bell, 1990, Ellickson, Bell, & McGuigan, 1993) is another successful program with an emphasis on social resistance skills, and has been rigorously evaluated in 30 schools. Information on ALERT can obtained from Project Alert, 725 South Figueroa Street, Suite 1615, Los Angeles, California 900175410 (18002537810, email email@example.com, web address www.projectalert.best.org).
Treatment of juvenile offenders
In addition to the prevention programs described above, treatment of juvenile offenders constitutes one of the most cost-effective forms of prevention.
Lipsey and Wilson (1997) examined 83 studies of institutional treatment for serious juvenile offenders and identified the kinds of treatment approaches which were most successful in reducing recidivism. How effective is institutional treatment? The average treatment program reduced reoffense rates by about 12% beyond the baseline reoffense rate for the institution as a whole (baseline rates vary by institution). This is probably sufficient to be a cost-effective and worthwhile reduction, when the expense and social impact of juvenile crime is considered. However, the most effective treatment programs reduced recidivism by 30 to 40%, which clearly represents a substantial benefit.
Using the statistical methods of meta-analysis, Lipsey & Wilson (1997) were able to identify the characteristics of the most effective programs. The most effective programs made extensive use of individual counseling and interpersonal skills training. Youth reviewed difficult social situations or past experiences, learned more skillful responses, and practiced their skills using methods such as role-playing, videotape feedback, and homework tasks. Young offenders also improved their ability to identify and cope with angry feelings. Examples of effective programs are Aggression Replacement Training (Glick & Goldstein, 1983; Goldstein, & Glick, 1994; Goldstein, Glick, Irwin, Pask-McCartney, & Rubama, 1989), the Social Interactional Skills Program (Shivrattan, 1988) and social-cognitive training (Guerra & Slaby, 1990).
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Notably, some popular programs were not effective. There is little evidence to support the use of wilderness/challenge programs (Lipsey & Wilson, 1997). Boot camps (also called shock incarceration) are another very popular program which has had disappointing results (Cowles, Castellano, & Gransky, 1995; Cronin, 1994; Henggeler & Shoenwald, 1994; MacKenzie & Souryal, 1994). Although offenders sent to boot camps tend to develop less antisocial attitudes while at the camp, camps have little or no effect on recidivism after return to the community.
It is important to recognize that programs with novel or appealing qualitiessuch as wilderness programs and boot campsoften have little or no lasting impact on juvenile crime, and may prevent the implementation of more effective programs. Despite their political popularity and seemingly down-to-earth emphasis on self-discipline and personal responsibility, wilderness programs and boot camps do not deliver what they promise. However, some boot camps do have lower recidivism than others. The most effective boot camps are not the camps with the greatest emphasis on military discipline or physical training; instead, effectiveness is associated with intensity of aftercare and community supervision.
Lipsey and Wilson (1997) reported that effective community residential programs provide an array of services including group and individual counseling, educational support, and vocational training. The most effective programs utilized a family home approach in which adult supervisors served as ''teaching parents'' working closely with a small number of youth. For example, Achievement Place (Kirigin, Braukmann, Atwater, & Worl, 1982; Levitt, Young, & Pappenfort, 1981; Wolf, Phillips, Fixsen, 1974) places six to eight youth with a couple who serve as surrogate parents and child advocates while administering a behaviorally oriented program. Youth can return to their own homes on weekends and remain in their local schools. Achievement Place group homes are now organized according to a more general Teaching-Family Model (Bernfeld, Blase, & Fixsen, 1990). Critical to the success of group homes is the training and experience of treatment personnel and their faithful adherence to effective treatment procedures.
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Lipsey and Wilson (1997) synthesized the results of 117 studies of juvenile offenders treated outside of institutional settings. In general, noninstitutional treatments reduce recidivism to about half the rate that it would have been without treatment (Lipsey & Wilson, 1997). A wide variety of treatment approaches were effective, with individual counseling the most effective. Several types of counseling were beneficial, including reality therapy (Bean, 1988) and multisystemic therapy (Bourduin et al, 1990). Training programs emphasizing interpersonal skills, parent training, and behavioral contracts also are effective (see also Guerra, Tolan, & Hammond, 1994). Davidson and colleagues (Davidson et al., 1987, Davidson & Redner, 1988) has demonstrated that at least one form of diversion program for juveniles convicted of relatively minor offenses can prevent recidivism, although it must be noted that to be effective, diversion programs should be closely supervised, with clear goals, and specific interventions (Guerra, Tolan, & Hammond, 1994).
Despite some differences in treatment methods, the most effective programs had some common characteristics: greater length of treatment (generally more than the median of 25 weeks for all treatments), greater attention to treatment integrity (i.e., checks to make sure the therapists followed the treatment procedure), and use of mental health personnel rather than juvenile justice personnel to administer treatment. Multisystemic therapy is carefully described in a treatment manual (Henggeler, 1991; see also Henggeler & Bourdin, 1990), available from the Family Services Research Center for the Medical University of South Carolina (8037928003). Other effective treatments are described in the section on institutional treatment.
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Intensive community supervision, also called Intensive Supervised Probation (ISP) is a widely used but controversial approach. ISP programs use a variety of methods to monitor offenders and increase their level of direct contact with probation officers. Early enthusiasm for ISP programs waned when careful research uncovered limitations and problems with the claims of ISP advocates. A scientifically rigorous, controlled study of 14 ISP programs in nine states (Petersilia & Turner, 1993) found that ISP participants overall had a rearrest rate no different from non-participants. Moreover, the average ISP probation violation rate was 65% compared to 38% for controls. The primary virtue of ISP appeared to be that increased monitoring led to increased detection of probation violations. Other studies have found mixed results for ISP, but the general consensus is that the increased monitoring of ISP does not reduce recidivism (MacKenzie, 1997). However, there is evidence that ISP does reduce recidivism if the program includes treatment services beyond simple monitoring (MacKenzie, 1997; Petersilia & Turner, 1993). A recurrent theme apparent in the evaluation of many programs is that effective treatment is often linked to the delivery of high-quality services designed to improve social competencies, prevent substance abuse, and facilitate employment.
An Integrative Model
Communities That Care
Communities That Care (Hawkins, Catalano, & Associates, 1992) is a systematic, theoretically grounded approach to helping communities create conditions and relationships which protect youth against drug and alcohol abuse. The Communities That Care model describes how communities can plan, undertake, monitor, and evaluate a series of programs and strategies to reduce risk factors and strengthen protective factors in individual children, their families, schools, and neighborhoods. In addition to a core emphasis on substance abuse, this ambitious model is designed to improve family functioning, increase school achievement, and generally reduce antisocial and delinquent behavior. The evolving Communities That Care model is both comprehensive and flexible, and can be adapted to individual community needs and goals.
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There is considerable outcome research in support of various components of the approach, e.g., parent education, teacher training, substance abuse prevention, social skills counseling, and others (Hawkins, Catalano, Morrison, O'Donnell, Abbott, Day, 1992; Hawkins, Jenson, Catalano, & Wells, 1991; O'Donnell, Hawkins, Catalano, Abbott, et al., 1995). Communities That Care has an extensive series of planning and training materials, as well as prepared curricula and audio and video materials which can be obtained from Developmental Research and Programs, Inc. 130 Nickerson, Suite 107, Seattle, Washington 98109 (8007362630).
We have made considerable progress in identifying what works in reducing youth violence. Nevertheless, there is substantial work to be done. Even the most effective programs can be improved. A 50% reduction in juvenile crime is a remarkable accomplishment, but not an ultimate goal.
Moreover, we need better means of assuring that programs are accurately disseminated and faithfully implemented in order for them to be effective (Henggeler, Melton, Brondino, Scherer, & Hanley, 1997). The best-validated, proven programs will fail if staff are not ready and able to carry them out according to their established procedures. Workshops and conferences make good introductions, but they are not sufficient training to assure programs function as intended.
Next, it is important to recognize that youth at-risk to engage in violent behavior are not a homogeneous group. We need better means of matching youth to the programs which are most effective in addressing their problems and concerns. This means improved identification and assessment methods, as well as a better understanding of the differential effects of different programs.
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Finally, the criteria for program success or effectiveness require careful consideration and ongoing evaluation. The most obvious sign of program success is a reduction in juvenile crime, but there are other important goals as well, for example, educational achievement and gainful employment. There are many ways to define and measure desirable outcomes for individuals, institutions, and communities as a whole. The complex relationship among these outcomes remains to specified. Ultimately, it will be most useful to identify those outcomes or goals for young children and their families which best facilitate and make possible the attainment of future successhowever definedas those children pass through adolescence to adulthood.
April 27, 1999. This is a working paper subject to ongoing revision. Suggestions are welcome. We could not include all programs with well-documented evidence of their effectiveness.
Our report was prepared in order to assist Virginia schools and communities in assessing program and training needs concerning youth violence and gangs. This effort is being furthered by the Youth Gang Project in Virginia, a project funded by the Virginia General Assembly through a university consortium consisting of the Virginia Youth Violence Project of the University of Virginia and the Center for School-Community Collaboration of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Dewey Cornell directs the Virginia Youth Violence Project at the University of Virginia. Ann Loper is Associate Director for Research and Peter Sheras is Associate Director for Training and Education. Virginia Youth Violence Project staff include graduate students Karen Brockenbrough, Stan Hannah, Mark Hiatt, Tricia Marsh, Lela McKnight, Dan Murrie, Jared VonArx, Heather West, Jennifer Whitney, and Wai Wong.
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For additional information, contact the Virginia Youth Violence Project:
web site: http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/youthvio/
office phone: 8049248929
Virginia Youth Violence Project
405 Emmet Street
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 229032495
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(This list is drawn from the complete needs assessment report, and therefore includes some references not cited in this chapter.)
Mr. HYDE. Mr. Woodson.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT WOODSON, SR., PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR NEIGHBORHOOD ENTERPRISE
Mr. WOODSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The reason that we are paying so much attention to Littleton, Colorado, is not only the magnitude of that tragedy but because it also challenges conventional wisdom about the roots of violence.
In the past, it has been assumed that self-destruction and violence was an inner-city phenomenon resulting from discrimination, political impotence and a lack of economic opportunity. Based on this premise, we have launched over the last 30 years about $5.3 trillion worth of programs. We have minorities elected to office running some of these same institutions. And Washington, D.C., leads the Nation in expenditures in 21 separate categories of poverty-related programs, yet a child born in Washington has a lower life expectancy than any child born in the western hemisphere, second only to Haiti. Indeed an 18-year-old black male would have a greater chance surviving leaving a combat landing craft in Europe in the Second World War then getting off a Greyhound bus in Washington or other cities.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Obviously, conventional wisdom about what solves problemslet me say that this condition in Washington co-exists with the fact that black median income is highest in Washington than anyplace else, so how do you have these conditions co-existing? The problem is that we are applying the same bankrupt remedies in the inner cities that we are now about to apply in affluent and rural America. Psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers descend on these violent areas like locusts. Just as conventional poverty industry social justice professionals profit from poor people, the grievance merchants are profiting from the misery of the rich.
When the students returned to class in Littleton, there was a mental health counselor in every classroom. Their mission was to urge students to share thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, and if this process further distressed them, there were safe rooms staffed by psychologists. Yet studies have shown that the benefit of such debriefing sessions with trauma victims assigned to counseling are, in many cases, worse off than they were. In fact, we should listen to the people suffering the problem who ran away from these grief counselors and went to their church and people in the neighborhood.
I believe that Littleton and the violence that we are seeing in urban and rural communities is a different page of the same book and that is it is a moral and spiritual crisis that defies rational remedies that we have attempted to apply. And I say if the problem is irrational, then the remedy has to be irrational. It is irrational for a rich kid who drives a BMW to school with both parents to take a gun and kill someone. That is not supposed to happen.
So I believe that we should look to sources of solutions, and at the National Center we have done so by looking in the crucibles of low-income neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
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Congressman Chaka Fattah's motherI learned all of what I know about gang intervention by talking to and studying and writing about Sister Fattah. She had six boys back in the 1960's. Chaka Fattah was one of those. And one of her oldest sons was a gang member. She said, bring your friends home. She moved 13 boys into her house and established the House of Umoja. She said, I don't know anything about gangs, but I know something about families.
From that one couple bringing these 13 kids in, they established rules, they reached out in a period of 4 years to 5,000 gang members throughout the city. Philadelphia, that was the youth gang capital of America averaging 42 deaths a year, went down to less than two as a consequence of what she did.
We at the National Center have gone to other communities and taken what she and the kind of value-centered, God-centered approaches that she has taken and helped other grass-roots leaders in these neighborhoods that are experiencing the same tragedies to apply these strategies.
I have three young men with me today: Thomas Anthony Derrick Ross sitting here, Thomas Ross was considered one of the seven most dangerous men in Washington, D.C., by the police. Curtis Watkins, East Capitol public housing, use to rob people, was a drug dealer. Kelvin Cannon, former leader of the Black Gangster Disciples in Chicago, use to terrorize Cabrini Green public housing. Each of these men came to a better understanding of their life. They are now God-centered people, and they are using their influence to change their communities.
The two of you came to Benning Terrace in southeast Washington where we had 55 homicides in a five-square block area. I am happy to report, as a consequence of the intervention, the lives of concerned men, grassroots leaders that are God-centered, we have not had a single death in two-and-a-half years; and we have exported that model to other cities throughout this country.
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And yet, if these men can bring about the kind of dramatic reductions in youth violence by using their influence, why can't we learn from them and begin to support them?
Because rural and suburban kids are inner-city wannabes. You see a white kid wearing sloppy clothes listening to gangster rap because they are listening to side A of inner city culture, and that is the side that Warner Brothers makes films about and Time makes music about. But they are not seeing side B of that same record of people like Thomas Ross, Curtis Watkins and Kelvin Cannon. They do not see the Sister Fattahs, the people who have transformed their neighborhoods into peaceful dens. And I believe if we can transmit negative cultural messages to white suburban kids, then I think we can use those same channels to communicate positive messages to those kids if we would only invest in the inner city Josephs, as I call them, because I think they have much to teach us.
Again, if they can change in the midst of crime-infested neighborhoods without V-chips, without gun control, they are in a state of disarmament. And you create a state of disarmament by changing a person's desire to use a gun. And so when you change a person's desire to use a gun, then that personit is irrelevant whether guns or knives or drugs are there. Guns do not create killers. It is a desire in the hearts of people. So, therefore, you have to change the hearts of people.
And it is fascinating that we can come to a session like this and no one talks about God, no one talks about faith, no one talks about the emptiness that these white kids feel in the presence of affluence. They are spiritually vacant, and that moral emptiness cannot be filled by a psychiatrist sitting across from a person every week asking them how they feel. It has to be filled by people like the men here that have committed themselves to a lifetime of service to these young people. They have committed themselves. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they are committed for a lifetime, and I think that society could benefit.
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Let me just conclude by saying, in June of this year, next month, we intend to assemble around the country 25 of these young men who are no longer at risk and bring them together with some of these young people from Paducah and Columbine and others and have an exchange so that our inner-city young people can teach these kids what it means to live a life. So we think that is a new dynamic that would perhaps add a dimension of knowledge and wisdom to this situation that is lacking, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Woodson.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Woodson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT WOODSON, SR., PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR NEIGHBORHOOD ENTERPRISE
As we, as a nation, seek to understand what happened at Littleton, Colorado, there are who argue that the only reason there is a national focus on youth violence is that most of the victims were white. I say this is not evidence of racism, but a challenge to conventional wisdom about the roots of youth violence.
In the past, we assumed that the self-destruction and violence was an inner-city phenomenon resulting from racial discrimination, political impotence, and lack of economic opportunity. Based upon these assumptions, we sought remedies to address these issues. After spending $5.3 trillion dollars over the past thirty years, and after blacks have been elected to major offices and are running many of the social institutions themselves over the past twenty or so years, the violence continues unabated. Washington, D.C. leads the nation in expenditures in 21 separate categories of poverty-related programs. Yet, a child born in Washington has a lower life expectancy than any other place in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti. Indeed, an eighteen-year-old black male would have had a greater chance of survival leaving a combat landing craft in the Second World War than he would getting off of a Greyhound bus in Washington, D.C. and many other urban centers today.
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Poverty programs, political empowerment, and social justice did not impact the violence, and now it is spreading to affluent communities as well. It is clear that poverty does not produce crime and violence any more than wealth and power exempts people from it. Littleton and inner-city D.C. are different pages of the same book.
Now we are in danger of applying the same kinds of bankrupt remedies that we applied in the inner city to the problems of our affluent suburbs and rural areas of the country. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers descend like locusts on the sites of violence. Just as conventional poverty-industry social justice professionals profited from poor people, the grievance merchants are profiting from the misery of the rich. When students returned to class in Littleton, there was a mental health counselor in every classroom. Their mission was to urge students to share their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. If this process further distressed the youths, they were to be sent to a ''safe room'' staffed by a psychologist. Yet studies have shown little solid evidence of the benefit of such debriefing sessions, and in at least one case trauma victims who were assigned to counseling reported worse psychological outcomes than those who were not. We should be approaching this issue by listening to the people suffering the problem. What the people of Littleton said is that they wanted their own pastors and faith organizationsnot the professionals.
We can only find solutions by starting with the correct assumptions. If addressing poverty and achieving political power didn't work for poor blacks, why are we shocked when people who don't face these challenges still have destructive and life-threatening behavior? As my co-panelist Jim Wilson has saidbut he would say it more elegantlyif you keep introducing a solution and the situation gets worse, or doesn't change, then you have to ask whether you've identified the right problem.
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Destructive behavior, particularly when it is self-inflicted, is irrational. Therefore, the remedy must be at the level of the problemirrational. One night, I was watching an old movie about the sinking of the Titanic. The narrator explained that the radio operator concentrated his efforts and time on communicating messages to and from New York about the performance of the stock market and making party arrangements for the first-class passengers. There was nothing wrong with these messages, but he neglected to report to the captain information about the presence of icebergs in the area. The messages we have been focusing on about the ''Good Ship America'' have been about economic situation and the unfinished business of racial injustice. These messages are not invalid but they have omitted information about the most clear and present dangerthe situation and needs of our young people. Training in conflict resolution, concerns about movies, television, the Internet, or gun control are not insignificant but they are inadequate. We are getting warnings that icebergs of moral decline, spiritual emptiness, and remorselessness on the part of our young people are banging against the ship and we have been ignoring them.
At the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, we have found that if we focus on the correct message, we can produce amazing results. The cause of our young people's violence is a moral and spiritual free-fall that is infecting our entire nation. For years, our nation has floated like the Titanic past icebergs of youths' despair and moral emptiness, while its passengers read news articles about the stock market, racial reconciliation, and other matters of ''national interest.'' With the tragedy in Littleton, the ominous scraping against the keel has sent reverberations that cannot be ignored. Young people are growing up morally and spiritually vacant. These kids are searching for something to fill that void, and, unless something positive and substantial is offered, that void will be filled with things like turf wars, Satanism, and other destructive activities. We need intervention that addresses the problem on the level on which it exists. Yet, we keep offering remedies, and imposing interventions, that do not address the problems of the people and are rejected by the young people.
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We need an irrational remedy, and that is faith in God and those who act in a Godly way. It may not ''make sense,'' but it works. What do I mean by this? First let me give you some evidence. I can take you to Benning Terrace in Washington, D.C., Cabrini-Green in Chicago, Dallas, Hartford, Los Angeles, and many other major urban sites where some of the most violent young people have been transformed. I have with me today several young men who were once gang leaders, considered hopeless, but are now called ''ambassadors of peace.'' One was known as the ''Governor of the Black Gangster Disciples at Cabrini-Green'' in Chicago; another was labeled by the police as one of the seven most dangerous individuals in Washington, D.C. Agents of God's grace reached out and changed them. They did not ''rehabilitate'' them. For rehabilitating means only returning them to the state they were in before they turned to destruction and does nothing to ensure they will not fall again. They were not ''rehabilitated.'' They were transformed. Like a lush field re-planted with new grass, with a positive vision and values, there is no room for the weeds of destruction to reappear.
The problem doesn't exist on a ''rational'' level. It is irrational for us to conclude that poverty programs and racial justice initiatives are the solution, when we have applied these remedies and they haven't worked. That defies rationality. It is also irrational to assume that we can solve the crisis by parachuting therapists into our suburban communities to teach kids how to get in touch with their feelings.
Solutions that have been effective with inner-city youths throughout the nation have been developed by faith-based, grassroots organizations. Several years ago, NCNE conducted a nationwide series of town meetings called ''What Works and Why.'' Those meetings featured testimonies of the leaders of grassroots groups that had successfully transformed young gang memberseven notorious gang leadersto positive, responsible young men and women. Nearly every community leader who testified in those forums said that their outreach was based on faith. These dramatic changes were possible through the commitment of grassroots leaders whom I call our modern-day Josephs. They are committed for the long haul and their dedication does not stop when the funds from a grant expire. They are with the young people when they are in the hospital, when their mothers die, when they are hungry, and when they backslide. They live in the same zip code as those they serve and know, firsthand, the problems they face. They attend funerals and are attendants at weddings. They are available twenty-four hours a day for a lifetime.
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An early model of the effective youth intervention of today's grassroots leaders is the House of Umoja founded in the mid 1970s in Philadelphia by Falaka Fattah, mother of Congressman Chakkah Fattah, and her husband, David. Congressman Fattah knows, firsthand, the transforming impact that the care of such an ''extended family'' can have on the lives of young people. Just last week, I spent time with one of the thousands of former gang members who were transformed by the House of Umoja who went on to become Deputy Finance Minister of Philadelphia and is now president of a $7 million CDC that is redeveloping downtown Philadelphia. Philadelphia had been known as the national gang capital with an average of 42 homicides a year. The house of Umoja effected a citywide gang truce and reduced deaths to nearly zero.
Suburban and rural kids are often inner-city ''wanna-bes.'' Into the moral vacuum that exists in their lives, negative cultural messages have been received from the inner cities. Kids in small towns in states such as Iowa are wearing their caps backward, wearing baggy clothes, and listening to gangster rap music. Criminologist James C. Howell has traced waves of youth violence as they appear in different kinds of communities. He cites a rise in youth crime that was first evidenced in large cities in 1989 and then appeared the following year in suburban communities, three years later in small cities, and four years later in rural communities.(see footnote 1) Little Rock, Arkansas, for example, has a population of only 170,000, yet reports gang membership of more than 500 young people. Echoing the violence of larger cities, Little Rock recently suffered a solid week of nightly drive-by shootings between warring Crips and Bloods.
Yet, just as the inner city has been the purveyor of negative influence, there is hope that it can also be the purveyor of a positive message. The same channel of influence that has conveyed negative behavior can be used to bring a message of peace and prosperity. We at the National Center have clear evidence that inner-city gang members and at-risk youths who are living lives of destruction and self-destruction can be changed. Against the odds of crime-infested urban environments, they have responded to the outreach of faith-centered organizations and individuals who have served as their ''moral tutors'' and ''character coaches,'' who have guided them to focus attention away from themselves and to begin to provide service to others.
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Kelvin Cannon, who is here today from Chicago's Cabrini Green public housing development, controlled hundreds of Gangster Disciples who wreaked havoc in their neighborhood. For the last ten years, he has been a person of peace. Today, he serves as a supervisor of a maintenance crew in Cabrini Green. Not only is he a responsible father and role model for his own children, but he has dedicated himself to reach back and raise up other youths of the community, providing them with opportunities for training and employment.
Kelvin has counterparts in cities throughout the nation, including Derrick Ross in Washington, D.C. Derrick was once an influential leader of one warring faction in the Benning Terrace Public Housing Development. Today, he is the leader of the Concerned Brothers and Sisters of Benning Terrace, an organization of young people who have turned away from gang warfare and are investing in the revitalization of their neighborhood. In addition, he is a successful entrepreneur, having launched his own landscaping company which employs other youths from the community.
These dramatic changes were possible through the commitment of grassroots leaders. I call these dedicated community healers our modern-day ''Josephs'' and have described many of their qualities in my book, ''The Triumphs of Joseph.'' We at the National Center know who and where these Josephs are in 38 states. Research indicates that they have made a profound difference, not only in the lives of young people, but in their communities as well. These youths did not stop their violence because they were disarmed. They achieved, instead, a ''state of disarmament'' when they lost their desire to use guns. It wasn't the access to guns, it was their desire that changed. In Littleton, the youths were using homemade bombs. Are we to outlaw fertilizer and pipes in these areas as well?
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I believe that young people such as Derrick and Kelvin have much to teach the youths in the suburbs and rural areas. If a value transformation can occur among those who have suffered social, economic, and racial injustice, living in crucibles of high-crime, drug-infested neighborhoods, why can't it work for young people who do not face the same challenges?
We must look to the new experts. These are our Josephs, the people in the inner city who have made a difference. We must mine this rich ore. At the National Center, we are seeking to establish dialogue between young people in the inner cities and those in the suburbs and rural communities. Those whose lives have been transformed in the crucible of the inner cities need to reach out and share information and insights about what changed them. They are like antibodies who cured their neighborhoods. It only took 16 youths from Benning Terrace to come to the table to transform an entire neighborhood. On this foundation of civic renewal, it is now possible for economic development to take root in that community. Our goal is to find out what is working in the inner city and to apply the same remedies to the problem of youth violence in suburban and rural America.
If we continue down the path of blaming outside influences such as the media or video games, we are in danger of creating not only a class of ''victims'' as we did with our poverty programs and much of our rhetoric about racial injustice. We are in danger of creating an entire generation of young people who have an excuse to be irresponsible. We cannot afford to create a generation of victims who believe they are compelled to be violent because of environmental influences, and that it is not their fault. There is nothing more lethal than a good excuse for being irresponsible.
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All youth are ''at risk.'' But those in the inner city who have been inoculated and cured have much to teach those in the suburbs. They need to meet with the youngsters that have turned away from gangster rap and hear ''side B'' of inner-city lifethe side Time Music doesn't record and Warner Brothers doesn't film. There are no songs or movies about young people who have given over their lives to Godly purposes and are now agents of life-affirming transformation.
I applaud Chairman Hyde and Congressman John Conyers for sponsoring HB 102, which will help our nation's grassroots leaders to continue and expand their life-salvaging work with our young people. In addition, I have but one recommendation to the Congress today, and it is one that the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise intends to act upon itself. In early June, we will hold a conference of young people that will bring together urban and suburban youths. We will convene a ''Disarmament Youth Summit.'' We will invite young people from Paducah, KY, Jonesboro, LA, and Littleton, CO, and former at-risk youths from the inner-cities. These youths will share their successes, and, in doing so, help others to cope with and affect the violence that surrounds them.
For decades, we have thought of inner-cities as repositories of Dysfunction and, therefore, objects of pity and charity. Now we must look at them with new visionas exporters of antibodies for a spiritual epidemic that has afflicted our nation.
Mr. HYDE. Officer Mankin.
STATEMENT OF DAVID MANKIN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL RESOURCES OFFICERS
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Mr. MANKIN. Good morning and thank you for the opportunity on behalf of the National Association of School Resource Officers and our over 5,000 members for allowing me to speak today.
Before I get started, I want to comment on a comment that was made by one of the young students earlier when she mentioned, in talking about school discipline, that her school has two security officers and those security officers would normally turn and go the other direction when they saw a conflict or a fight in their school.
I am here to tell you that police officers don't turn and run. The officer at Columbine High School did not turn and run. He was outgunned. There is no doubt about it, and the National Association would like for you to know that we are dedicated to supporting laws that would take the guns out of the hands of our children.
Just some brief information in reference to what a school resource officer does, and I am going to confine my comments to one area of a school resource officer's responsibility, and this responsibility is one that we basically came across by accident a number of years ago.
When we go throughout the country and teach new officers their responsibilities in the schools, and it is a unique responsibility to go into a school as a police officer, we stress education; and we tell that officer that they need to be in those classrooms and they need to be bringing topics that are taught in the classroom home to these kids.
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I will give you one example. That is search and seizure, the fourth amendment to the Constitution and talking to the kids how that really works on a day-to-day basis, and that is one of many examples that I can use. By putting an officer in the classroom and telling him that he needs to be accessible to the student body, the faculty and the parents in that immediate community, we found out that the rapport building took place a lot faster than just walking the halls and shaking hands and being an asset in that way.
And as this rapport building took place, what we also found out, and this is the surprise, is that our ability to collect intelligence information was phenomenal. I will tell you now that officers throughout the countryand I get e-mails on a daily basis, I get telephone calls on a daily basis of officers telling me about the information they have received about taking guns off children, knives, chains, other types of weapons, and the crimes that they have solved such as murders, aggravated assaults, robberies, thefts that they have cleared from information that students feel comfortable giving to them.
The next statement I am going to make I am going to take full credit for because I have never heard anybody else say it before. I think it would be easy for us to understand that during an 8- to 10- to 12-hour school day, a school is nothing more than a city, and in that city things can happen much like they can across the street in our communities, and I think it is important that we address those issues and we address the school as a city.
And I would like to think the COPS' office and Congressman Jim Maloney for passing his bill last year and the COPS' office for supplying money to put school resource officers in our schools.
Page 165 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I had the opportunity to speak with Congressman Stupak last week. And I was here in Washington, D.C., last week and spoke to a number of Congressmen in reference to school resource programs, and I can tell you that at this point our feeling is the school resource officer program is a piece to the puzzle of solving violence in our schools. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. We thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Mankin follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAVID MANKIN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL RESOURCES OFFICERS
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Mr. HYDE. Mrs. Hearne.
STATEMENT OF DONNA HEARNE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE CONSTITUTIONAL COALITION
Ms. HEARNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee. Education has been my life. I am not only a schoolteacher, my husband is a schoolteacher, and my daughter is a schoolteacher.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My profession is an ancient and honorable one, and today there are teachers who are giving their lives in hours and sacrifices to do the right thing. Without those teachers, all of America would see more Littletons. A high school senior has spent 14,000 hours in the classroom, so it behooves us figuring how many hours they talk to their parents, that we look at what is going on in the classroom.
Two worlds collided in the library of Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. They are best described by two quotes from a newspaper. Executioner Eric Harris said, ''My belief is if I say something, it goes. I am the law.'' Martyr Cassie Bernall, when asked if she believed in God and with a gun pointed to her head, declared, ''Yes, I believe in God.''
Most of us know that the weapons of destruction, some of them that were used were homemade pipe bombs, and a pipe bomb consists of a piece of water pipe, nails, tape, gunpowder and a fuse. Each of these components taken on their own are inert. In fact, a water pipe is used for good to carry water to homes; and nails create homes; and the ever-versatile duct tape is used to hold many things together in our homes. But it is the fuse that turns these useful, helpful components deadly. It is that fuse that we want to look at.
Human beings are made up of many components, and psychologists and psychiatrists tell us that it is the emotions that activate the knowledge. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bright young men. What was the input, what differences were there today and 40 years ago when boys routinely took guns to school for rifle practice and there were no shootings? How did Littleton happen?
We need to look at what is going on in the classroom as well as the philosophy. When I was in the Department of Education on the first board, I had the opportunity to go over to the library and look at some of our historic textbooks, 400 years old some of those textbooks were, and to some degree you could see played out in those textbooks the same collisions of those same two worlds.
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On the one hand, early colonial children were taught from the New England Primer and the alphabet based on biblical teachings. McGuffey's Readers likewise incorporated moral teachings and instructions. Ray's Arithmetic likewise gave the basics and taught the values that had to be passed on. And in the case of McGuffey's Readers, you found that there were millions of these copies printed.
In these early textbooks, morals were promoted and moral wrongs were punished. And yet in that same room there were textbooks from another philosophy, and you could look at the numbers of how many had been printed, and literally up until this last century there were not very many that had been used in the classroom. What is this other philosophy? It can be best described as a philosophy of no moral absolutes, no historic truth to be taught, that man can decide for himself what is right and wrong. Some call it moral relativism and others call it values clarification. Sidney Simon's book, Value Clarification, defines it as, ''Students rejecting the old moral and ethical standards and creating their own value system.''
Two clashing worlds, absolutes and relativism. Moral relativism and values clarification became the philosophy of the universities and teaching colleges in the 1930's, and as they began to promote it, it took several generations, but it took hold. Psychologists Maslow, Rogers and Colson brought it to the classroom; and today in the 1990's teachers are no longer teachers but facilitators and coaches.
Historically, teaching has been the imparting of wisdom, truth, knowledge and understanding that made culture good from one generation to the next. Teachers sought to lift up the student with the best of the culture, not allow the lowest and the least, but not any more.
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As a retired police detective from St. Louis noted, traditionally schools provided powerful engines of socialization of America's young. They instilled values of honor and duty and discipline. But then he goes on and quotes a teacher friend that said values are considered to be judgmental and therefore shunned. The difference between right and wrong have been replaced with an emphasis on acceptance, tolerance and individual privilege.
If these are the foundations of what is happening in Littleton, we need to see what did Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold study. According to the Washington, D.C., Post, they were allowed and even encouraged, with only one exception that we know of, to act out the philosophy of moral relativism.
Mr. HYDE. Could you wind up?
Ms. HEARNE. Yes. I think if we look in their classes we will see that they were taught that they could do their own thing, that everything was all right, that they could set the law. And yet I saw while I was in the Department of Education the textbooks that had taken out the references to God. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had the ''under God'' removed. Stories were changed. Literature now promoted the death, the dying, the lowest, the least, and this is what we find when we look at the newspaper clippings of Eric and Dylan.
It is interesting as we look at these two worlds clashing, the ''I am the law'' of Eric Harris and the ''I believe in God'' of Cassie Bernall, both of these children had fuses. Both of them responded. Eric chose to kill. Cassie chose to leave that world, to leave the drugs, the witchcraft and to find the moral answers, and she has had a wonderful testimony in the Weekly Standard, and I would commend you all to look at it.
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I would also commend that you look at Detective Giese's statement from St. Louis who said, we think that we know what the answers are, but public policy says we have to look at the moral foundation if we are going to decide public policy. And our Founding Father James Madison said, we have staked the future upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments. Abraham Lincoln said, the teachings of the classroom are the politics of tomorrow. Can we do any less than heed the wisdom of the Founding Fathers? Return to moral absolutes and allow our teachers to teach what history has affirmed as the only way to a free and productive society.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you Mrs. Hearne.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Hearne follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DONNA HEARNE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE CONSTITUTIONAL COALITION
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Committee
Education has been my life. I am elementary school teacher by profession, a wife of a secondary teacher and the mother of a second grade teacher. The last twenty years have been spent, outside the classroom, fighting for good education, including ten years at various positions in the U.S. Department of Education.
I attended Carleton College in Northfield, MN and received my BA in Elementary Education from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.
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My profession is an ancient and honorable one. Some of the finest people suffer long hours and difficult circumstances to try and teach children. There are still thousands of teachers that daily challenge their students with the noble, the noteworthy and the nourishing, and, within a demanding classroom. These are the teachers who consistently put in 1618 hour days. Without them ALL of America would be in mourning for we would have many Littletons.
A high school senior will have spent over 14,000 hours in the classrooms. Yet, the experts tell us, parents average one hour a week in meaningful discussion with their children. That makes the odds 20 to 1 in favor of the classroom. These odds require we look inside the classroom and ask just what is being taught and what is NOT being taught.
Two worlds collided in the library of Columbine High School, Littleton, CO on April 20th 1999. They are best described by the following newspaper quotes.
The world of executioner Eric Harris said, ''My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I AM THE LAW.''
The world of martyred Cassie Bernall, when asked if she believed in God and with a gun pointed to her head, declared, ''YES, I BELIEVE IN GOD.''
Most of us know that some of the weapons of destruction were homemade pipe bombs. Now, a pipe bomb consists of a piece of water pipe, some nails, and tape, gunpowder and a fuse of some kind. Each of these components taken on their own is inert. In fact, water pipe is used for good to carry water for people to drink. Nails are used to construct homes. And the ever-versatile duct tape is used to hold things together, to repair them. Gunpowder by itself is harmless. It is the fuse that turns useful, helpful components deadly. Yet, a fuse without the components itself is useless.
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When the fuses of those pipe bombs went off, children were injured and killed.
Human beings are made up of many components. Psychologists and psychiatrists tell us that it takes the emotions to activate knowledge.
Eric Harris and Dylan Keibold were bright young men. What was the input, the knowledge that they based their actions upon and what was the fuse?
What differences were there today and forty years ago when boys routinely took guns to school to use for rifle team practice and hunting after class, and there were no shootings?
How, we ask, could Littleton, CO; Pearl, MS; Paduccah, KY; and Jonesboro, AR happen?
To find the answer, we must examine the philosophy of education, as well as what is happening in the classroom.
When I was at the U.S. Department of Education on the FIRST Board, I had a number of opportunities to go into the Department's library and examine textbooks, some dating back almost 400 years. To some degree, you could see played out in the library, the same collision of two worlds.
Page 173 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On the one hand, early colonial children were taught from the New England Primer that taught the alphabet based on Biblical teachings and stories. McGuffy's Readers likewise incorporated moral teachings with instruction in reading, history and science. Even Ray's Arithmetic from the 1860s taught Biblical principles in its math problems. In the case of the McGuffy's Readers, you had many millions printed, back when we were still a small nation. (See sample pages of the Primer, McGuffys and Rays in my exhibits) In these early texts, moral rights were promoted, and moral wrongs were punished.
Yet on the other hand, textbooks that promoted another world were also there. By looking at the number of copies printed, one found that up until this century, this other philosophy was not popular, nor widely used in the classroom.
What is this other philosophy? It can best be described as a philosophy of no moral absolutes; no historic truth to be taught and that man deciding for himself what is right or wrong. Some call it moral relativism; others call it ''Values Clarification.'' One of the most widely used textbooks, Values Clarification, by Sidney Simon, defines it as students ''rejecting the old moral and ethical standards'' and creating ''their own value system.'' Two clashing worlds: absolutes vs. relativism.
Moral relativism and Values Clarification became the philosophy of the universities and teaching colleges in the 1930's. They began to promote it. It took several generations, but by the 1960's when we as a nation began to throw out all of our classical and moralistic thinking, it took hold.
Page 174 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Psychologist's Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and William Coulson brought it to the classroom and by the 1990's, teachers were no longer teachers, but facilitators, and coaches. It is interesting to note that Dr. Coulson has spent the last ten years apologizing to parents for the damage it has done. (See exhibits of his observations.)
Historically, teaching has been the imparting of the wisdom, truth, knowledge and understandings that made its culture good from one generation to the next. Teachers sought to lift up the student with the best of the culture, not allow the lowest and the least.
As a retired police detective from St. Louis noted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch Tuesday, May 11,
''Traditionally, schools provided powerful engines of socialization for America's young. They instilled values of duty, honor and discipline. Along with the 3 R's, they taught students to appreciate our common heritage and to understand that citizenship entailed responsibilities as well as rights.''
He then quotes a teacher friend who notes that
''Values are considered to be judgmental and therefore shunned. The difference between right and wrong have been replaced by an emphasis on acceptance, tolerance and individual privilege.''
If acceptance and tolerance of wrong in the name of moral equivalency, and individual privilege are the case at Littleton, Pearl, Jonesboro and Paduccah, what happens in the classroom?
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Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold according to a Washington Post article, were allowed, and even encouraged (with one exception that we know about) to act out the philosophy of moral relativism. The Washington Post article goes on and says that ''Harris and Klebold in government and economic class made a video which showed themselves as hit men, a protection ring of sorts, who could be hired out to wreak justice on jocks who picked on other students. The video was violent and ended with the two bludgeoning the head of a dummy amid much fake blood.'' When one of the students was asked if this was not odd, she ''noted that many of the videos were violent and that her own contained sexual scenes. ''Everybody's video involved fighting,'' she said.''
This same thing is happening everywhere. In St. Louis, a teacher allowed her students to produce videos in her English class that were similarcontaining violence, vulgarities and obscenities. When asked to defend it, she said she felt she had to reach to kids where there werein essence, in the gutter, so they ''could relate.'' How far we have come!
In their Creative Writing class, Harris's and Kelbold's writings were filled with gore, and profanity. They epitomized moral relativism. Again, with only one known exception, they were allowed to do their own thing. No teacher passed judgement. They were ''tolerated.'' The educational community did not correct them. Their ''self-esteem'' was valued more highly than right and wrong.
Not only were they not corrected, evidence points to the countless textbooks used across America from kindergarten to high school that actually focus on gore, death, anger, and violence. The Mel Gablers have been documenting textbooks for the last 30 years. In Grade 7 reading series, Signposts by Scott Foresman, there are 147 references to death, violence, suicide and killing alone! Their 8th grade series, Milestones, contains 195. Even D.C. Heath's Communicating handbooks for grades 16 are centered on violence, cruelty, stealing, robbery and cheating. (See exhibits of a few of the examples)
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Harris wrote in his philosophy class, ''My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law, and if you don't like it, you die . . . Feel no remorse, no sense of shame''
In the library that day, two profound things happened. Moral relativism came face to face with absolutes. The philosophy of tolerance and moral equivalency requires that all behaviors be accepted. Hence, trench coats, salutes to Hitler, profanity and obscenity must be tolerated. Fascism must be tolerated. Tolerance becomes a higher value that right and wrong.
Harris was also exposed to another curriculum that has been around for at least 15 yearsdeath education. Back in 1988 20/20 did a segment on death educationin Littleton, CO. The February 1988 Atlantic Monthly investigated death education classes given in ''thousands of schools.'' They noted that may were in the social studies, health, literature and home-economic courses without parents' knowledge. The classes described by the magazine told how students were required to write their own wills, obituaries, or suicide notes, and to decide who they wanted to die, who would be their pallbearer's etc. Newspaper clippings from Jefferson County (Littleton) on teen suicide show how it mushroomed in 1988.
Eric Harris participated in this fascination with death, dying and suicide according to an AP Wire story, when he wrote his will as one of his assignments.
Many textbooks demonstrate how value neutral we have become; how we have trained children to be their own law unto themselves, and to be their own god.
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If this is what is happening in Littleton and other schools around the nation, what is not being taught?
In the 1980's I served on the National Council for Educational Research. Dr. Paul Vitz of New York University was asked to look at elementary school textbooks to see what was being taught. He found that religion, especially the Judeo-Christian religion, had been utterly expunged from the books. Poof! Disappeared! This, he maintained left children ignorant of an important segment of our history as well as themselves. In fact, not only was it gone, but it had been changed in literature and history. The Gettysburg Address, one of our important historic documents, lost the phrase, ''under God;'' a traditional story about a Jewish boy caught in a snow storm who thanks God twice in the story for help was changed. The basal reader, Catch the Wind from Macmillan Publishers, had him ''pray for himself,'' not ''pray to God,'' and say ''Thank goodness'' instead of ''Thank God
Missing too, was information documenting that the colonial laws were based on the Old and New Testaments, e.g., New Haven, Connecticut's charter, adopted April 3, 1664, ''That the judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses, be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction.'' And, rarely can be found the warnings and wisdom of the Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson's comment that ''The God, who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.'' Or, George Washington's warning that ''let us, with caution, indulge the supposition, that morality cannot be maintained without religion.'' Washington's religious and moral maxims alone fill over 50 pages of a book; ''Maxims of George Washington'' published by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association in 1989. How many of these are being passed on to our present generation?
Page 178 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The two worlds: ''I am the Law'' of Eric Harris and ''I believe in God, the giver of the law'' of Cassie Bernall came face to face. Both students had fuses. Bernall's was her faith in God; Harris's was his faith in himself. Although both had been exposed to the moral relativism in the schools and both had embraced it, Cassie with her parent's strong intervention left the public school for a Christian school, and had her activities restricted to church. (See the May Weekly Standard for the full story.) Cassie rejected the drugs, witchcraft and violent behaviors for moral answers found outside the school. She then decided to go back into the school to confront the moral relativism.
Both Eric and Cassie made choices. Eric exercised his by spreading death, Cassie by proclaiming hope in death.
What has happened in the classroom? Moral Relativism. What has not happened? Moral absolutes. A brief coverage of the story of what has happened can be found in my little book, Sex, School and Politics, and a more complete coverage, in St. Louisian John Stormer's None Call it Education.
Moral relativism is built on the premise that man is basically good. The moral foundations of the Founding Fathers were built on the understanding that man was flawed and therefore needed moral absolutes to restrain him. As Detective Guzy put it,
''Well intentioned individuals sought to understand how society had corrupted the teen-aged killers. They assumed that children are fundamentally good, so their violent behavior must have been the result of some sinister outside influence. Remove the contaminating agent, the reasoning goes, and the natural state of tranquility will be restored. This theory paints a flattering portrait of human nature. Unfortunately, it's a portrait rendered counterfeit by even the most cursory reading of history. Cain slew Abel in the first generation out of paradise and the blood-letting continues to this day. Understanding the inborn potential for evil in the human soul has profound implications for public policyIf we have lost the resolve to instruct them in moral imperatives, we shouldn't be shocked when they behave immorallywe're merely reaping the bitter harvest of our neglect.'' (emphasis added)
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Government cannot make us good, but local schools can civilize us and teach us to reach for the best, not the least. Schools can inculcate honor and virtue and expose students to the finest moral teachings down through history.
George Washington, as well as other Founding Fathers knew that if a society did not internally govern itself, it would have to be externally governed and lose its freedom. More and more laws would have to be passed to try and restrain evil. James Madison, our fourth president, said, ''We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.''
Can we do any less than heed the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, return to moral absolutes, and allow our schools to teach what history has affirmed as the only way to a free and productive society?
Donna Hearne is a teacher, researcher and currently Executive Director of the Constitutional Coalition located in St. Louis, MO. She is married to a history teacher, and they have five grown children and three grandchildren. Her youngest daughter is a second grade teacher.
In 1981 she began a ten-year stint serving at several positions within the U.S. Department of Education. As Vice-chairman of the policy setting board for the National Council on Educational Research, she oversaw the federal laboratories and centers, had input into NAEP and the public libraries. As chairman of the Fund for the Improvement of Schools and Teaching, she awarded grants for new and innovative programs in the schools. She has written widely on education and educational movements.
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Mr. HYDE. Ms. Phillips Taylor.
STATEMENT OF BYRL PHILLIPS TAYLOR, GUN CONTROL AND VICTIMS ADVOCATE
Ms. PHILLIPS TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, I want to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to speak to you of a matter that is of great importance to me personally, and it is a matter of enormous importance to mothers and families everywhere.
I know from personal experience what a gun in the hands of a teenager can do. Ten years ago my son, Scott, had just graduated from high school. He was 3 weeks away from starting Virginia Tech. He was a fine young man. He was so full of life, always laughing. He didn't drink, smoke and he did not use drugs. He was my life. He was my best friend. Scott had lots of friends. He was a very popular young man.
During the school year, Scott had some verbal confrontations with a classmate. During the summer, this boy found out where Scott was working and got a job there. He lured Scott into the woods, and he shot him six times with an AK47 assault rifle that was taken from an unlocked storage shed. The first shot was in the back, and it immobilized Scott. Then he shot Scott at his leisure. The last shot was the execution shot to his head while he was still alive and able to beg for his life.
What happened to Scott was a personal tragedy, one that I will never fully recover from, but what has happened to America's children in the 10 years since Scott was shot is a national tragedy of far greater proportions. In the past 10 years 50,000 children have died from gun violence, through homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.
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In 1989, it was legal for an 18-year-old child to walk into a gun store and purchase an AK47. That was shocking then, and it is shocking now.
In 1994, Congress banned the further manufacture and importation of assault weapons, but it permitted the continued possession and sale of grandfathered assault weapons just like the AK47 that was used to kill my son.
In 1994, Congress banned juvenile possession of handguns, but it did nothing to ban juvenile possession at any age of assault rifles like the AK47. In many States today, it is perfectly legal for a total stranger to sell an assault rifle to a 12-year-old child. And it is legal in many States for a 12-year-old child to buy an assault rifle at a gun show.
In 1994, Congress banned the further importation of large-capacity magazine clips holding more than 10 rounds, but Congress apparently exempted grandfathered ammunition clips. As a result, 50-round ammunition clips, like the kind used to kill my son, can still be imported; and hundreds of thousands of these large-capacity magazines are imported every year, without any documents proving that they were manufactured prior to 1994. We operate our gun laws on the honor system.
In 1994, Congress banned the juvenile possession of handguns by children under the age of 18 and prohibited adults from selling or directly transferring a handgun to a child, but Congress did not prohibit adults from leaving a loaded firearm on the dining room table where a child can easily access it. That is perfectly legal.
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In 1993, Congress passed the Brady bill and in so doing required background checks on firearm purchasers, but the same criminal that gets turned down at a gun store can buy that same gun from a gun show where unlicensed dealers are happy to sell you a used AK47 without any questions asked. Just cash and carry.
Last year in Jonesboro, two boys were able to obtain a whole arsenal of guns, including a rifle with a large-capacity magazine from an unlocked cabinet in the home of a relative. A few weeks later, these same children exercised their constitutional right to keep and bear arms by pulling the fire alarm and mowing down their classmates.
Let me add that my son's killer brought the AK47 to school in his pickup truck every day. Thank God, he didn't mow down 50 children. Several weeks ago in Columbine, two 17-year-olds were able to buy a TEC9 assault pistol at a gun show from one of those unlicensed dealers again. No questions asked. Just cash and carry. A few weeks later, those same two children went on a shooting spree at their high school.
Yesterday, in response to the tragedy at Littleton, the United States Senate voted against requiring background checks at gun shows. Not only that, they approved an amendment by Senator Larry Craig, a member of the NRA's board, that will eliminate the Brady background check that now stops convicted felons and other prohibited persons from reclaiming their guns from pawn shops. Shame on Congress. Shame.
Ten years ago when my son Scott was shot in cold blood by a high school classmate, it was easy for a child to gain access to a firearm. Now 10 years later, when our school grounds are being turned into battlegrounds, it is still far too easy for children to get guns. And the reason is simple. Loopholes produce bullet holes. But instead of closing these loopholes, Congress is preparing to create new ones.
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This is insane. When are we going to do something to protect our children from being gunned down? How many Scotts must die? Enough is enough.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I beg you on behalf of us please close the loopholes that make it easy for children to get guns. How many more bullet holes must there be before we plug the loopholes? Enough is enough.
I want you to see my Scott. I also want you to know that the killer was another typical person who was an Eagle Scout. He didn't smoke. He didn't drink, he didn't do drugs, and he went to church on Sundays, but he killed my baby because he loved guns. Thank you.
Mr. ROGAN. [Presiding.] Ms. Phillips Taylor, thank you very much for your presentation this morning.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Phillips Taylor follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BYRL PHILLIPS TAYLOR, GUN CONTROL AND VICTIMS ADVOCATE
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Committee, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity to testify today on a matter of enormous importance to me personally and a matter of enormous importance to mothers and families everywhere.
I know from personal experience what a gun in the hands of a teenager can do. Ten years ago, my son Scott had just graduated from high school. He was three weeks from starting Virginia Tech College. He was a fine young man. So full of life. Always laughing. He didn't drink, smoke or use drugs. He was my life, my best friend. He had lots of friends. During the school year, Scott had some verbal confrontations with a classmate. During the summer this boy found where Scott was working and got a job there. He lured Scott into the woods and shot him six times with an AK47 assault rifle that was taken from an unlocked gun cabinet. The first shot was in the back and the last was an execution shot to the head.
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What happened to Scott, was a personal tragedy, one that I will never fully recover from. But what has happened to America's children in the ten years since Scott was shot is a national tragedy of far greater proportions. In the past ten years, 50,000 children have died from gun violence, through homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.
In 1989, it was legal for an 18-year old child to walk into a gun store and purchase an AK47. That was shocking then and its shocking now. In 1994, Congress banned the further manufacture and importation of assault weapons, but it permitted the continued possession and sale of grandfathered assault weapons like the AK47 that was used to kill my son.
In 1994, Congress banned juvenile possession of handguns, but it did nothing to ban juvenile possessionat any ageof assault rifles like the AK47. In many states today, it is perfectly legal for a total stranger to sell an assault rifle to a 12-year old child. And it's legal, in many states, for a 12-year old child to buy an assault rifle at a gun show.
In 1994, Congress banned the further importation of large capacity magazine clips holding more than ten rounds, but Congress apparently exempted ''grandfathered'' ammunition clips. As a result, 50-round ammunition clips, like the kind used to kill my son, can still be imported. And hundreds of thousands of these large capacity magazines are imported every yearwithout any documents proving that they were manufactured prior to 1994. We operate our gun laws on the honor system.
Page 185 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In 1994, Congress banned the juvenile possession of handguns by children under the age of 18 and prohibited adults from selling or directly transferring a handgun to a child. But Congress did not prohibit adults from leaving a loaded firearm on the dining room table where a child can easily gain access to it. That's perfectly legal.
In 1993, Congress passed the Brady bill and, in so doing, required background checks on firearm purchasers. But the same criminal that gets turned down at a gun store can buy that same gun from a gun show, where unlicensed dealers are happy to sell you a used AK47 without any questions asked. Just cash and carry.
Last year in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two boys were able to obtain a whole arsenal of guns, including a rifle with a large capacity magazine, from an unlocked gun cabinet in the home of a relative. A few weeks later, those same children exercised their constitutional right to keep and bear arms by pulling the fire alarm and mowing down their classmates.
Several weeks ago in Columbine, Colorado, two 17-year old boys were able to buy a TEC9 assault pistol at a gun show from one of those unlicensed dealers. No questions asked. Just cash and carry. A few weeks later those same two children went on a shooting spree at their high school.
Yesterday, in response to the tragedy at Littleton, the United States Senate voted against requiring background checks at gun shows.
Not only that, they approved an amendment by Sen. Larry Craig, a member of the NRA's board, that will eliminate the Brady background check that now stops convicted felons and other prohibited persons from reclaiming their guns from pawn shops.
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Shame on Congress. Shame.
Ten years ago when my son Scott was shot in cold blood by a high school classmate, it was easy for a child to gain access to a firearm. Now, ten years later, when our school grounds are being turned into battlegrounds, it's still far too easy for children to get guns. And the reason is simple: loopholes produce bullet holes.
But instead of closing these loopholes, Congress is preparing to create new ones. This is insane.
When are we going to do something to protect our children from being gunned down? How many more Scotts must die? Enough is enough.
Mr. ROGAN. Lieutenant Colonel Grossman.
STATEMENT OF LT. COLONEL DAVE GROSSMAN, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
Mr. GROSSMAN. Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a few minor corrections to the introduction.
In Jonesboro, my home town, I was at best a trainer of mental health professionals and clergy after the school shootings there, and most assuredly not the lead counsel.
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In Paducah, I was called in as a consultant and was on standby as an expert witness. Other people did magnificent jobs as counselors, and I would never want to take away from them.
I would like to begin, if I may, by outlining the magnitude of the problem.
In America, since 1957, the per-capita aggravated assault rate has gone up almost sevenfold. We have to ignore the murder rate because medical technology is saving ever more lives every year. The rate at which our citizens are trying to kill each other off has gone up sevenfold per capita since 1957.
In Canada, since 1964, it has gone up fivefold. In the 15 years that I could obtain data for my book, according to Interpol, the per-capita serious assault rate went up approximately fivefold in Norway and Greece. In these last 15 years, the per-capita serious assault rate went up almost fourfold in Australia and New Zealand. It tripled in Sweden, and it approximately doubled in seven other European nations.
We can't explain that with guns, not in all of those nations. We have to identify the new factor, the new variable, in the toxic stew of causal factors that is causing a fivefold, sevenfold, fourfold, threefold, doubling of the murder rate in just 15 years in nations around the world. In Japan, in 1997, there was a 30 percent increase in juvenile violent crime in 1 year alone.
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Valenti is a great American and has done a lot of good things, but when he says that we need to be looking at other nations, he has it backwards. Those other nations are looking at us and knowing that we are their future. I train law enforcement officers in many of these nations, and they are scared to death because they see themselves walking down the same road.
Now what is the single factor, the new factor, the new variable in all of those nations since 1972? The Surgeon General has identified what it is. I was on Meet the Press with the Surgeon General. He said that, yeah, I can do another Surgeon General's report, but why don't we begin by reading the 1972 Surgeon General's report that has already pinned the tail on that donkey?
The APA, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and, last year, the United Nations have all identified the fact that when we feed death and horror and destruction to our children, the result is horror in any nation that does it. Now, in addition to those experts, I add the United States Marine Corps, the United States Army and law enforcement experts around the world.
Yesterday, I was training the California Highway Patrol staff and faculty. Tomorrow, I train a brigade of paratroopers in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I wrote three Encyclopedia entries on this topic, and I wrote the Oxford Companion to American Military History entry. My book On Killing is being used as the standard textbook in universities around the world and in law enforcement and in military organizations.
The bottom line is that we know, those of us whose job it is to train young men and women to kill, we know that there is a leap, there is a gulf between being a law-abiding citizen to being able to kill another human being. You have to have an intermediate step. You have to have some kind of a simulator, a rehearsal, a practice of the act of killing.
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In World War II, we practiced shooting at bull's-eye targets; and we found there was a tragic flaw in that mechanism. The reality is that if you want people to kill human beings, they have to practice shooting at man-shaped silhouettes and photo-realistic targets and video screen depictions.
Today, these kind of simulators are used in the law enforcement and the military community worldwide. The Army has a modified version of the basic Super Nintendo game and over 1,500 of these devices are used to train in rifle marksmanship. The Marine Corps uses the game Doom and turns it into a superb military training device.
Now, we cannot market these devices to children and then have the military use them at the same time and suddenly claim that, for some reason, they are harmless when in the hands of children. We have flight simulators, and we know that they can teach you how to fly without ever touching an airplane, and we have murder simulators that can teach you how to murder without ever touching a gun.
In a video game, the child is programmed to kill every living creature in front of them, and that is exactly what we are seeing. We have a new national game out there. The new national game is when the children take their sick fantasy and turn it into your tragic reality and the winner of this game, the one with the new high score, the one with the highest body count gets his picture on TV.
It is a parent's responsibility to protect the kids. We all know that. But it is also a parent's responsibility to protect the children from alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pornography and drugs; and we help the parents in all of those areas. We say, anybody that sells alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pornography and drugs to a child is a criminal.
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Everybody from the NRA to the civil liberties organizations generally concurs on these child-access laws and other processes that are out there in these areas, and we are pursuing those. Why in this one area are the parents left on their own? What we have got is a situation in which millions of kids have access to guns. Because a tiny proportion of them will misuse that access, we all agree on child access laws. A tiny proportion of the children who have access to mass murder simulators will misuse them; and, because of that, we needwe desperately need to have legislation that will keep that out of hands of children and help the parents protect their children from this substance.
The NRA agrees, I was on Wayne LaPierre's (the head of the NRA) national radio show the other night. He concurs with what we are talking about. Here are firearms training devices at best, murder simulators at worst. They need to be regulated in the same way that we regulate guns. These are psychological toxins that provide children with the skill and the will to kill.
Michael Carneal, a 14-year-old boy in Paducah, brings a pistol into school and fires eight shots. He gets eight hits on eight different milling, scrambling, screaming children. Five of them are head shots. Now, as I train law enforcement personnel around the world, they are stunned by that. Nowhere in the annals of law enforcement or military history can we find an equivalent achievement. He is not some deranged Army Ranger like me, he is a 14-year-old boy who, to the best of our knowledge, has never fired a pistol in his life. Where does he get that skill? From these murder trainers.
So what we call for, sir, is education, legislation and litigation.
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The education of American parents regarding the toxic effects of media violence is vital.
The legislation. Here are three ads from the video game industry. One of these ads is for a joystick. When you play Doom, you can play it with this joystick. You pull the trigger, and it bucks in your hand like a real gun. The ad for that joystick in youth-oriented magazines says, ''Psychiatrists say it is important to feel something when you kill.''
The most recent version of Duke Nuk'em III I was told by ABC television in an interview there, will permit the child to go into the high school yearbook, scan in the pictures of his teachers and fellow students and then morph them into the faces of the targets that he kills in the game.
A similar game has an ad that says, ''Kill your friends guilt free.''
Here is another ad in a youth-oriented magazine for a home firing system that says, ''More fun than shooting the neighbor's cat.''
This industry needs to be reeled in, gentlemen. I submit to you that if we don't do so we will continue to see children out there who will take their sick fantasies and turn them into our tragic realities.
And the necessity is for us to realize the fact that the real industry expert, the real media critic, is not Siskel & Ebert, with all due respect to them, it is the American Medical Association; and it is time that we started listening to men like Dr. Cornell, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and started dealing with the individuals who put psychological toxins into the minds and environment of our children. As you do that, may God bless you in this vital endeavor.
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Mr. HYDE. [Presiding.] Thank you, Colonel.
[The prepared statement of Lt. Col. Grossman follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF LT. COLONEL DAVE GROSSMAN, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
My background is as a West Point Psychology Professor and Army Ranger, a professor of military science. I have written three encyclopedia entries on the process of military enabling of killing, and the entry in the ''Oxford Companion to American Military History,'' and the textbook that is being used, and the book, ''On Killing,'' that is being used as a text in peace studies programs around the world and in places like West Point and law enforcement academies.
From that perspective, I want you to understand what the military knows about killing. There is a broad leap, a vast chasm, between being a healthy American citizen and being able to snuff another human being's life out. There has to be a bridge, there has to be a gap. In World War II, we taught our soldiers to fire at bull's eye targets. They fought well. They fought bravely. But we realized there was a flaw in our training when they came on the battlefield and they saw no bull's eyes. And they were not able to transition from training to reality.
Since World War II, we have introduced a wide variety of simulators. The first of those simulators were pop-up human targets. When those targets appeared in front of the soldier, they learned to fire, and fire instinctively. When real human beings popped up in front of them, they could transfer the data from that simulator.
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Today, we use more advanced simulators. The law enforcement community uses a simulator that is a large screen television with human beings on it, firing a gun that is identical to what you will see in any video arcade, except in the arcade the safety catch is turned off.
The army has a device; I will provide pictures. The last time I trained on this device, it had a label on it that said ''Nintendo.'' I have confirmed with the Arkansas National Guard where I trained that this device has a Nintendo stamp on it.
The army uses this device, a plastic M16, that you fire at a screen, because it is an extraordinary device to train marksmanship skills. Now, in any video arcade in America, we have got children playing identical devices. The industry has to ask how they can market one device to the military, whoever is marketing it, and then turn around and give the same device to your children, and claim that it is harmless.
The video game ''Doom'' is being marketed and has been licensed to the United States Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is using it as an excellent tactical training device. How can the same device be provided indiscriminately to children over the Internet, and yet the Marine Corps continue to use this device?
We all know about the power of flight simulators. We have flight simulators that can teach you to fly without ever touching an airplane, driving simulators that teach you how to drive, and we have mass murder simulators that can truly teach you how to commit a mass murder even before you put your hands on a gun.
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Now, in these mass murders we have seen, usually the child is out to kill their girlfriend. Very often, the first victim last year has been a girlfriend. But they keep going. And the law enforcement officers ask, ''why did you keep going?'' And one of the answers that one child provided a few years back was, ''well, it just seemed like I had momentum.''
Well, those of us that study simulators understand that you get in a routine, just like a child in a fire drill, like a pilot in a flight simulator, a set of automatic conditioned response has set in. You hold a weapon in your hands and you mow down every living creature in front of you until you run out of ammo or you run out of targets. That is what they have been conditioned and programmed to do, as we program soldiers, but without the safeguards.
Now, what we have before us is a new national video game. The children are invested in racking up the new high score in a national video game. The high scores on this game, instead of getting the three-letter initials in the arcade, gets their picture on Time Magazine and on every television in America. I have been predicting for close to a year now that the next major school shooting will include bombs. How could we have known that?
Well, because if you want to get up to the upper levels in a video game and get that high body count, you have got to have instruments of mass destruction. And every video game incorporates that at the higher levels, we are scripting the children and they are carrying out the scripts.
As I travel around the country as one of the nation's premier law enforcement trainers, training the Federal officers, training the Texas Rangers, a battalion of Green Berets, the Australian Federal Police, the Canadian Mounties, as I train these individuals, universally, across America, I am told there are more attempted school shootings this year than last year. We are just better at nipping them in the bud. And we have every more police officers, ever more metal detectors, that children courageously report the presence of the guns, but we are keeping the lid on a pressure cooker. The willingness of the children to commit these crimes has gone up and up and up.
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Many people say it is the parents' responsibility to deal with this matter. Well, it is, without a doubt. But it is the parents' responsibility to protect the child from guns, explosives, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and pornography. And on all of those substances, society helps the parents. Society regulates guns, explosives, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and pornography. And we say that anybody that provides that substance to a child is a criminal. In the same way, the time may have come for us to say that anybody who provides these toxic substances to children is a criminal.
Since 1957, in America, the per capita assault rate has gone up sevenfold. In Canada, since 1964, the per capita assault rate has gone up approximately fivefold. In the last 15 years, in European nations, the per capita assault rate has gone up approximately fivefold, in Norway and Greece, fourfold in Australia and New Zealand. It has tripled in Sweden, and doubled in seven other European nations.
Now, the only common denominator in all of those nations is that we are feeding our children death and horror and destruction as entertainment. And the worst of these is the violent video games, the simulated training devices.
Now, in 1972, the Surgeon General released a report about the link between media violence and real-world violence. I was on ''Meet the Press'' last week with the Surgeon General. He said, ''Sure, I can do a new study, but why do not we go back to 1972 and look at the 1972 study, and start taking action.''
Why do not we go back to 1972 and take a look at the 1972 study? The Surgeon General was very straightforward about it. We do not need more research. We have over 4,000 sound, scholarly studies.
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In 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health assessed over 2,500 scholarly studies and came to the conclusion that there is a clear link between media violence and violent behavior in children.
In 1992, the American Psychiatric Association report said, quote: ''The scientific debate is over.'' The APA has made definitive statements.
Now, we see media representatives standing up and defending their industry. And I submit that that is the equivalent of an agriculture professor, with all of his background, trying to refute the American Medical Association on tobacco and cancer.
The real media critic is not Siskel and Ebert. It is the American Medical Association. And it is time to put them in charge of the FCC and other organizations, and listen to what they have to saythe American Academy of Pediatrics and others.
Now, 16 million kids supposedly have access to guns. By my calculations, 6/10,000ths of a percent of the kids with access to guns will abuse that right. But because of 6/10,000ths of a percent, we as a society agree that anybody that puts a gun in the hands of a child is a criminal. Well, in this way, these murder simulators are also dangerous instruments that need to be restrained from the hands of children. They teach children the motor skills to kill, like military training devices do. And then they turn around and teach them to like itlike the military would never do.
Not everybody who smokes cigarettes gets cancer, but everybody is sickened by it. Not everybody who ingests media violence is a killer, but they are all sickened by it.
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Dr. Gerbner's research indicates what is called the Mean World Syndrome. They are more likely to be abusive to their own children in the years to come. They are more likely to be fearful. The adrenaline/hormonal responses go up in these individuals. They are all profoundly influenced, and our society is subsequently influenced by them.
The ACLU has not made a clear comment on these video games, these killing simulators. One representative told me, ''I cannot remotely see the ACLU defending the right of 5-year olds or 9-year olds at the local arcade to practice killing human beings.''
You see, this is not a First Amendment issue. These are firearms trainers. And this is a Second Amendment issue. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre even said this ''sounds like a Second Amendment issue to me.'' And as such, these things should be regulated, just like guns. Anybody who gives a child a gun is a criminal. Anybody who gives unrestricted access to these devices are criminals.
Take the Michael Carneal case, in Paducah, Kentucky, a 14-year old boy who had never fired a gun before in his life, takes a .22 caliber pistol to school and fires eight shots. The FBI says the average law enforcement officer, in a real-world engagement, hits with less than one bullet in five. Michael Carneal fired eight shots. He got eight hits on eight different children; five of them head shots, the other three upper torso. Where did he get that from? From the video games. He had played those video games over and over again and had become a master killer.
The heads of every major national and international law enforcement training organization has personally told me that they are willing to testify in the Paducah case for free, to talk about the link between these video simulators as they are used by the law enforcement community and their impact on children.
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In 1997, the overall violent crime rate went down 2 percent, but law enforcement fatalities went up 21 percent. The individuals that law enforcement agents face are ever-more trained, ever-better qualified, and they are concerned that children have their own private police-quality firearms training sitting in the arcade and they are able to play it.
Now, the research on this data is comprehensive. Look at the research on simulators. Look at the billions of dollars spent on flight simulators and why. Then look at the research on violent media. And then combine that research together and understand how powerful it is.
Some people say we need new research on these. We have already done billions of dollars of research, and we can combine those ingredients.
We are calling for three things. Education, legislation, and litigation. We must educate America's parents, as a comprehensive national program, about what the AMA and the APA and the Surgeon General says about the link between violent media and violence in their children.
Legislation: these devices that you see the ads for out there, these devices are law enforcement training devices that need to be legislated. And they are not even remotely a first
And, finally, litigation: Three ads here from the video game industry. One is for a joy-stick in a children's magazine. When you pull the trigger, it bucks in your hand like a gun. The ad says: ''Psychologists says it is important to feel something when you kill.''
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Another ad is, again, in a children's magazine, for a game that says: ''Kill your friends guilt-free.'' Here is another ad, again, in a children's magazine, for a video game. It says: ''More fun than shooting the neighbor's cat.''
Now, the Supreme Court has determined that a book called ''The Assassin's Handbook'' was not protected by the First Amendment because it openly advocated murder and killing and taught the skills. If a book, if a set of texts is not protected by the First Amendment, then are these firearms simulators protected?
We need to begin holding the producers and profiteers of these video games accountable for the toxic substance they are pouring into our children's lives.
Mr. HYDE. One of the most difficult things I have had to do is to blow the whistle on time on all of these people. You have so much to say, and it is golden and very difficult to ask you to close, but I must.
Our last witness before we return to our teenage panel is Ms. Rice Hughes, and we welcome you, and please tell us what you have to tell us.
STATEMENT OF DONNA RICE HUGHES, VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
Page 200 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. RICE HUGHES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is an honor to be here.
I have been asked to walk you through a visual presentation on the Internet dangers and children.
Mr. HYDE. Would you excuse me? I want to announce to the members that in your books you have pictures of what Ms. Rice Hughes is going to talk about, but the audience will not see the pictures, for obvious reasons. But you have them in your book, your notebooks, if you look in the back. But they will not be shown to the public.
Ms. RICE HUGHES. If the members could follow along, because I will be describing some of the graphic images here and, like the chairman said, the audience will not be able to see that on the screen. However, the audience will be able to see the complete presentation without the graphic downloads.
In my experience at Enough is Enough, we have focused on kids' easy and free access to all types of pornography, that which is legal and that which is illegal, and sexual predators' ease of access to children. For the purpose of today's presentation, I have included other on-line dangers such as violence, bomb-making and gore.
Let's begin. Children deserve a protected space of innocence; a safe, educational and rewarding on-line experience; the adult community to join together to protect them from age-inappropriate activity and content; and the law enforcement and government to protect them from illegal content and activity.
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Children's Internet access, there are currently 17 million kids on-line; 89 percent of the schools are currently on-line; and 60.4 percent of public libraries offer Internet access to their patrons.
Forty-seven percent of teens are currently on-line in the United States. As you can see here, there are a list of the top five activities of teens on-line. The top two activities are using e-mail and Internet search engines. The Internet offers extraordinary benefits to children and to adults alike. That is why it is so important that we work together to make the Internet safe for children.
There are, however, Internet dangers. Kids have free and easy access to inappropriate and illegal content such as pornography, obscenity and harmful to minors' material, violent information, bomb-making information and hate speech. Predators have easy access to unsuspecting kids. Also, there are problems with Internet gangs on-line and privacy issues to be considered.
Consider any child with a computer and a modem can access harmful images in seconds and, once they have seen it, it can never be erased from their minds. Pornography on the Internet has proliferated on-line and is very profitable.
Consider the Internet delivers child pornography, obscenity and other harmful material directly into homes, schools, and libraries.
Searches on the Internet to inappropriate material can be intentional, kids trying to find material that would be harmful, or also they can come across it accidentally. Let's look at unintentional access.
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A child can type in an innocent word into a search engine and come across all types of information that they were not trying to get to, such as hard-core pornography. Pornographers disguise their sites. We call those stealth sites. We also have a serious problem with unsolicited e-mail, usually offering hard-core pornography; and, of course, there are the chat rooms.
This next slide demonstrates the pornographers' use of brand names. You will notice in the top 10, three are specifically targeted to children, Disney, Barbie and Nintendo.
Now these next series of slides contain graphic and disturbing images. I apologize in advance, but many have been in denial. It is only a mouse click away. And members, if you can please follow along, because you will not see the images on the screen. Thank you.
This next slide is an example of a stealth site, Whitehouse.com. Simply by changing the domain name from Whitehouse.gov, pornographers are drawing traffic to this stealth site depicting hard-core pornography.
This next site, any child could get to if they type in water sports, possibly looking for information on scuba diving or sailing. Water sports is a pornography slang for excretory urination types of pornography.
By the way, this material is currently prosecutable under Federal obscenity statutes. We have never had an Internet obscenity prosecution ever in the history of the Internet. This material shouldn't even be there.
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Next, intentional access. Kids can obviously find anything that they want on the Internet. We are going to look at violence, pornography and bomb-making in the following slides.
This next slide, I simply typed in bomb-making; and it yielded over 1.7 million matches. If a child were then to click on any of these matches, they would get to the corresponding Website.
The next slide is an actual Website for bomb-making. Notice at the top, I noticed this myself when I was looking for sites this week, there is an advertisement for pornography and free pictures. Again, a child can simply click there and get to a porn site as well. On this site you can see over 10 great high-explosive mixtures that tells you exactly how to makes these bombs, as you will see in the next slide.
This next picture was downloaded from a bondage Website. This particular site provides dozens of genital mutilation photos.
The next site is The Torture Chamber, and it boasts of being the leading bondage and sex crimes provider on the Internet.
The following slide is the second half of the Torture Chamber's Home Page and depicts five images of torture and bloody bondage.
This next slide is Rotten.com, and it is a very violent and bloody Website.
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All of the images that I am showing you are free pictures. I clicked on the third click down, you see Mayhem III, and I clicked there, and here it says they offer a series of dismemberments and brutality. This is just one of over a dozen pictures that were offered under mayhem.
This slide depicts one of three corpses with severe head wounds, and I can't even make out a head here. Imagine, by the way, thatyou are seeing black and white small pictures. Imagine these kinds of photos in full color on a computer screen and the impact on young minds. Obviously, there are harms to exposure to inappropriate material. It effects choices, attitudes, behavior. It can lead to objectification, desensitization and acting out.
Next, the newsgroups are a gigantic bulletin board and also host a plethora of inappropriate content and illegal content. Consider, advertising sells. Is pornography and violence any different?
Next, we will look at predators on-line. The Internet is the playground for predators. Pedophiles and predators have easy access and unprecedented access to children. Parents used to only have to worry about their kids interacting with the wrong crowd in the physical world. Now any pedophile to a skin head can have direct interaction with your child in the privacy of your own home. Examples of on-line communities that are antisocial: pedophile, molesters, animal sexual abusers, the anarchist communities and on-line gangs.
Next, destructive virtual validation. When on-line communities congregate on the Internet, they often validate their antisocial behavior and fantasies saying it is okay to have sex with children or animals. For example, ''I do the same thing, and I think the same thing.'' And this is what we call virtual validation.
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Next, we have downloaded an actual screen from Internet Relay Chat, and you can see the various channels offered. IRC is unmonitored. If I was to say I was a 12-year-old girl, it would be a matter of 30 seconds before I was hit on sexually. Chat rooms are used for other types of exchange of information and to interact with your child.
Mr. HYDE. Could you wind up?
Ms. HUGHES. Yes.
What is the solution? We believe it is a shared responsibility between the public, the technology industry, and the legal community. Each provides an essential layer of protection to ensure that children's on-line experience is safe.
The next slide depicts what the public can do, basically a combination of safety rules and software tools.
The next slide depicts a list of safety rules.
The next slide talks about the numerous technology tools that are available to parents and schools and libraries.
What can the technology industry do? Well, they can implement technological solutions, choose not to offer illegal content through their newsgroups and cooperate with law enforcement.
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What can the legal community do? We must have aggressive enforcement of current laws and close the loopholes in the laws and extend the laws that protect children in the physical world to the cyberworld.
Protecting children in cyberspace takes all of us. In the history of telecommunications, both legal and illegal content have not been so legally accessible to so many children with so few restrictions. A shared responsibility between the public, the technology industry and the legal community is essential to bring our Nation's children safely into the important frontier of cyberspace. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you very much, Mrs. Rice Hughes.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Rice Hughes follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DONNA RICE HUGHES, VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
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Mr. HYDE. Mr. Valenti has to leave in 10 minutes. I think Mr. Medved has a commitment as well. Nonetheless, they will be here for such time as they will be here. So the first question, Mr. Conyers.
Mr. CONYERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I want to congratulate the 10 panelists here today. I think our record here will provide a transcript that all will be able to study for quite a long time to come.
Ms. Phillips Taylor, I wanted to single you out for your very moving testimony.
Now, one of the things that it seems to me that can be done would be to close gun loopholes. The second is to begin to fund many programs that have been zeroed out in education and are student compatible and they move toward dealing with the community and the educational system as well.
So I think that Congress itself, especially after yesterday's disappointment in the Senate, really ought to be dealing with this in its own way.
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Can I ask Jack Valenti first and then Mr. Medved, who may be leaving, to comment on this very fundamental approach that I set forward here in terms of where we might go from this hearing?
Mr. VALENTI. Mr. Chairman, I do believe that there are many elements in this society that cause breakdown. If I had to give you one solution, I would pick Mr. Robert Woodson, I would follow him. I thinkwhat he said resonates, I think, with truth, and that is that he is talking about church and school and home.
There are some things in life, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Conyers, that changes in laws cannot cause or cure, as Dr. Johnson once said. I think the supervision by the people who really count and the child's upbringing from zero years to 8 or 9 years is where the child's character is formed. I think that is where it has to be done.
I do believe that there has to beconcurrently with an admonition to the movie industry, that we must look at what we are doing with a steady gaze and make judgments on our own of what we can exile, that there ought to be concurrently something that is going to take guns off the street regardless of whatever Colonel Grossman was talking about, about figures.
The figures are that we have the highest crime rate in the world, and that Japan and Western Europe have much lower crime rates. Guess what, they have what I call a draconian attitude toward guns. They banish them.
Mr. CONYERS. Does your industry know that if they don't cooperate and come around cooperatively that we will have nothing left to do to you but to legislate?
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Mr. VALENTI. I understand that, Mr. Conyers.
Mr. CONYERS. I know that you do. I am asking you, do they?
Mr. VALENTI. I am in touch constantly, maybe hourly, with the people who are both in the creative community and the executive community. I am not speaking in a vacuum. I learned a long time ago that if I am going to charge up San Juan Hill, I had better make sure that I have got somebody behind me.
Mr. CONYERS. So we will be counting on this, because I think that we are getting to a point that we have never been before. We will be counting on you, and you can be sure we are going to take all of this collective information and do what we need to do with it.
Mr. Medved, I would like to, now that I have seen you off the screen for the first time, I would like to hear any comments that you have in connection with where we go from here. I am thinking guns and funding the programs that we have created, that we have created many programs that we don't even give a dime to anymore.
It seems to me that there is a governmental response here that can help people who want to help young people.
Mr. MEDVED. Thank you, Mr. Conyers. Let me recall for you one of the personal experiences that mobilized me on this issue. It goes back 12 years.
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I was actually speaking in a smaller city in the Midwest, speaking on the media and the impact of media, and a mother stood up during the question period. As she was delivering her question to me, she began weeping, and when she got hold of herself, she finally said something that has always stuck with me. She said, ''The problem I feel with Hollywood, with the movies and the TV and so many of these other influences is, they are trying to kidnap our kids.''
Many, many parents feel that. I know that the people that Mr. Valenti works with are not bad people; they are good people, by and large. No one is deliberately trying to kidnap the kids. Maybe some of the people designing some of the video games Colonel Grossman spoke about, maybe some of the people on the web sites that Donna Rice Hughes spoke aboutthere is a role for government, no question about it.
But you know, Mr. Conyers, and I think that we all here know that the depths of this problem are so profound that a governmental solution alone can only be a part of a total response. This is going to take new initiatives in the entertainment industry, it is going to take new initiatives at the community level, it is going to takeplease, Godthousands of new initiatives like Mr. Woodson is talking about. It is going to take a partnership.
I am delighted to be here today to see the bipartisan nature of the willingness on this committee to take a leading role in precisely that kind of partnership.
Mr. CONYERS. Believe me, I am very happy to see all of you here.
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I know Mr. Woodson wants to comment. I wanted to concentrate on the two most likely witnesses that may have to take their leave right away.
I will come back, Mr. Woodson.
Mr. HYDE. Mr. McCollum.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Valenti, a couple of things. One, do you believe that some moviemakers intentionally target youth with violence?
Mr. VALENTI. It is hard to answer that. I am being honest about it. Let's take ''Natural Born Killers,'' every time there is a poster boy for bad movies, somebody shows ''Natural Born Killers'' or they show ''Basketball Diaries.'' I must say that I have seen enough of them lately. Oliver Stone will tell you that that is a satire on American life. It is modeled after something that happened almost 50 years ago, when Charlie Starkweather, a teenager about 17 years old, and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Fugate, roamed through Nebraska and Wyoming, killing and stabbing 11 people. Ms. Fugate shotgunned her own mother.
That was 50 years ago, by the way, before television and video games. He took that incident to show the hypocrisy of society.
I am telling you what Oliver Stone says, so when you say, you, Mr. Stone, deliberately did that, he would tell, you not at all. This was a satire on the society today. So the answer is, I don't know.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Valenti, I just remember sitting next to one of the movie producers once several years ago now, who told me that he knew kids liked violence and he intentionally made movies violent because kids like it now. That is not necessarily all bad if you look back at Bugs Bunny, the Three Stooges, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers; we have always had some form of violence. It is the level of the violence, the manner in which it is being conducted, the incredible saturation and graphic depiction that is involved that I think is disturbingnot Bugs Bunny, frankly.
The question might make itself in the sense that Mr. Medved has suggested, that you might, in his testimony, lead a charge for a more explicit rating system than I know that you worked very hard to get once before, of movies. Does that system need to be revised? Do we need to go back and change that again or is that time past?
Mr. VALENTI. Mr. McCollum, when a parent sees an R-rated picture or more severe, we are waving a red flag, please, Mr. and Mrs. Parent, for God's sake, please don't take your kids to see this movie until you have checked it out. We are giving the most severe cautionary warnings that we can.
When I go into a theater and I see a mother and a father with a 7 and a 9-year-old child sitting in a theater of a picture that is rated ''R'', I get angry. I want to go over there and admonish those parents, how dare you bring your children into this theater?
I don't think if your child is 5 or 6 years old you ought to go to a movie. Get a lot of cassettes and Disney stuff at home.
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When I see that, I get angry. What do you tell a parent? They say, how dare you tell me how to conduct my child's life? Even though I get angry at it. So we are trying to tell people. I don't know what else you can do. If you wave the red flag, please, please don't do it, and they still do it.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Medved, do you want to comment on that?
Mr. MEDVED. I do. I think there is no question that the motion picture rating system has been successful in the sense that most American parents know basically what it means. They know an R-rated picture is for adults, they know a G-rated or PG-rated is more suitable for family audiences.
The difficulty is the TV rating system. Please remember that the average American will watch more TV in 1 day than the average American will watch movies in a year. TV is hugely critical.
No one understands the TV rating system. Why not give that systemwhat is TV14? Why not call it PG13? People understand that phrase.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. You would use the same system for television?
Mr. MEDVED. Absolutely. Make a universal system that people can comprehend.
Page 215 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In video games they have ratings like ''E'', ''C'', and ''AO''. I doubt if anyone here, perhaps other than Colonel Grossman, knows what those initials mean.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Valenti, what do you think about changing the TV rating?
Mr. VALENTI. Mr. McCollum, the fact is, we designed this with the cable industry and the broadcast industry. I had two motives. I wanted to make it simple. If you make it simple, people will use it. If you complicate it, they won't.
Number two, I wanted it to resemble the movie rating system which we have had for 30 years; it is part of the warp and woof of this country. However, we were assailed by a lot of public advocacy groups who wanted to put ''D'' for dialogue and ''L'' for language and ''S'' for sex and ''V'' for violence, and these various categories, which is all very well intentioned. I went along with it because I wanted everybody to be on board, but I think it has complicated it a little bit.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. No question, it has.
Mr. VALENTI. However, give this a chance, Mr. McCollum. It took us 3 to 4 to 5 years before people began to understand the movie rating system. Give this a chance to percolate in the marketplace.
As I said, the Center for Media Education, along with the Kaiser Foundation, is putting a lot of money into the education of the American parent on what the television ratings mean. Give it a chance to work.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. We have spent $4.4 billion on youth crime prevention at the Federal Government level every year, and we still haven't gotten through where we need to get through. So I know your challenge is very great, but we sure need your help.
Mr. VALENTI. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. The gentleman from Los Angeles, Mr. Berman.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is pretty unfathomable how the Congress can justify laws like the Brady bill or the ban on the sale of assault weapons, and then not cover the sellers who are left uncovered by that earlier legislation. There is no logical consistency to that, and I think Ms. Phillips Taylor made a compelling argument why those laws should be cleaned up and corrected.
I don't want to focus on that here. I would like to ask a few specific questions.
First of all, Mr. Medved, your radical solution. I don't understand the supply-side answer to that radical solution. In the world of proliferating channels and satellite and cable and digital, the notion that you are going to be able to significantly affect the amount of time that children addicted to television are watching on a daily basis, through the limitations on programming, it seems to me is about as efficacious as supply-side economics was in terms of dealing with our fundamental economic problems.
Page 217 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But on the demand side, are you suggesting a role for government in this particular area?
Mr. MEDVED. I am, through the schools, Mr. Berman.
It seems to meI am absolutely in favor of demand side solutions regarding television. You may be unaware that several weeks ago 6 million Americans committed themselves to National Turn-Off-the-TV Week. That is 6 million Americans who made a pledge, mostly through their churches and synagogues that we are going to give up television for a week.
There are more and more American households who are either TV-restricted or even TV-free. Now again, it is a small, tiny percentage. But it seems to me that is an important area.
If we are teaching children in schools about addictionsaddictions to drugs, addictions to alcohol, addictions to tobaccolet us make those children aware that television itself can be the most time-consuming and, I believe, a comparably destructive addiction.
The average American child is spending more than 4 hours a day every day, 7 days a week, consuming pop culture. That is a huge challenge. It seems to me, particularly through the education system, through the industry itself, the television industry, emphasizing, look, there is good TV on there. Look at the programming listing. Pick the TV shows that are worthwhile to you. Highlight them, make a schedule, keep a schedule, keep a TV diary. That kind of activity in every home, in every community in America, I believe can make a difference.
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Because I want to tell you something: There is a lot of good TV. But you know what? It is not going to come to 28 hours a week.
Mr. BERMAN. Two questions. I will ask both of themfirst, from Lieutenant Colonel Grossman.
You make, and others on the panel make, a pretty good case for filling the hole left by the absence of legislation prohibiting the sale of certain kinds of video games to minors. But I am curious what that legislation would look like.
How would we make a standard that would pass constitutionality, that would be specific enough to give people adequate notice and still have any efficacy? That is question number one.
Then, for any of the panelists, I would like for someone to respond to Mr. Valenti's point with respect to the penetration of American films, American television programming, and my guess is probablyI don't knowbut video games in foreign countries, in Europe, in Japan. I am telling you, it is in China as well, mostly in pirated form, but it is there.
The point is, notwithstanding Lieutenant Colonel Grossman's figures, it seems to have much less impact on their behavior than on American behavior.
I would like answers to both of those questions.
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Mr. GROSSMAN. I guess the first question was directed at me, sir. The point of understanding what video games need to be constrained is important and begins with understanding healthy play. Kittens play, puppies play at ripping one another's throats out. Children play at ''Bang, bang, I got you.'' But when one of the puppies or kittens or children is hurt, that play stops.
I played caps with Billy, but when I smacked Billy over the head with my cap gun, he went to his mom and cried, and I got in trouble. I learned that Billy is real; when I hurt Billy, bad things happen.
In a basketball game or football game and one of the players is hurt, what happens? The play stops.
We have turned healthy play on its head. Now the purpose of play is to inflict pain and suffering on other human beings in ever more vivid realistic depictions. I will tell you that actually crafting the legislation is not really a big trick. There is a rating system out there; the existing video game rating system can be used.
We peg the current rating system. Maybe it needs to be tweaked and worked, but in my home State of Arkansas, Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rockefeller
Mr. BERMAN. Who decides what the rating system is?
Mr. GROSSMAN. The industry does.
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Mr. BERMAN. So in other words, we codify an industry standard and allow them to decide which games fall within the different categories?
Mr. GROSSMAN. That is one option, I would submit to you. If they have got a rating system, we turn around and say that. But the bottom line becomes anytime that your child is deriving pleasure from the death and suffering of another human being and, in particular, anytime they are inflicting suffering on another sentient entity, we need to turn around and say, time out, that is not for children.
If adults want to do that, that is their business. But anyone who sells that to children has gone beyond the pale.
Does that make sense, sir?
Mr. BERMAN. On the other issue
Mr. CORNELL. I would be happy to comment about Mr. Valenti's comment.
There certainly has been research on the introduction of TV in communities that don't have, or didn't have it, in Canada or European countries. There has been a dramatic increase, a correlated increase in aggressive behavior among the young people in those communities. The difference is, they don't have the same means. Remember, you have to have a method and a means. You have got to have both factors.
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In the United States, unfortunately, we have the method and the means, the means being the access to firearms, which we don't have in many of these other countries. But we have seen increases in other less serious forms of aggressive behavior. As they get more access to lethal means, we are also seeing an increase in homicidal acts.
Please don't be persuaded by enchanting statements that say, ''Let these filmmakers police themselves, regulate themselves, and use their own judgment.'' We have relied on their judgment already. In fact, the first Senate hearings on violence on TV were conducted in the 1950's. There were further hearings in the 1960's, the 1970's, and the 1980's and in this decade. The media response to every single inquiry, the media has said, ''Let us regulate ourselves. Let us use our good judgment. Let us practice artistic freedom.'' These are the folks who think that ''The Terminator'' is an antiwar movie, as a movie producer told me, or who think that ''Natural Born Killers'' is a satire.
Mr. MEDVED. Terminator II.
Mr. CORNELL. It may be a satire to Hollywood executives, but to a 14-year-old boy it is a recipe for murder and they are taking that recipe very seriously. When we say that ''R'' is the most severe warning you can get, do you really mean that a letter, an abstract letter, is the most severe warning that we can get? How about Madison Avenue? Are all of our commercials made out of letters and abbreviations?
We certainly can deliver a much more powerful and clear message if we have the will to do so, but clearly our entertainment industry does not have the will to do so. There is no incentive for them to do so. Their incentive is to have viewers and to have profits. That is just what they have done.
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We can't continue to accept their platitudes and accept their reassurances that somehow they are going to make things better all on their own. They have had their opportunity.
Mr. MEDVED. Mr. Berman, very briefly, to provide some information supporting what Dr. Cornell is saying, he is alluding to phenomenally interesting studies that I know you will want to look at by Dr. Brandon Centerwall, he is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. He has analyzed the impact of the introduction of television to various societies around the world.
What is so fascinating about that is, TV was introduced at different times. It was only introduced in Canada, for instance, parts of Canada, much later than in the United States. He has analyzed Great Britain, South Africa, Canada, Australia. He has an iron rule which is, within 15 years of the introduction of television, anywhere, at any time, the homicide rate at least doubles. This has held absolutely true.
Mr. GROSSMAN. Let me add to that, the Journal of the American Medical Association, June 10, 1992, published his study. The world's most prestigious medical journal, June 10, 1992, if there is anybody that wants to look that one up. It is the most important and powerful study on crime causal variables in America today, and it has been completely underreported. That is a tragedy.
Mr. WOODSON. May I comment? There is a footnote to this and a word of caution to this debate and this emphasis, and that is, we are in danger of creating an attitude of victimization on the part of all of our young people, that is, by communicating to them that they are somehow passive in reaction to all of these external challenges. In other words, I believe that there is nothing more lethal than a good excuse for irresponsible and self-destructive behavior.
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I would direct some of these researchers, both left and right of center, to go to some of the thousands of young menthree of them I have brought hereto ask, how did they change their behavior and values in the midst of crime-infested, drug-induced neighborhoods? What is it that explains their transformation? How is it they are able to then influence others in that environment to put guns down and engage in healthy behavior?
There are no researchers that come into the inner city where I spend my time to ask these kinds of questions that they ask in Europe or Canada. We have a laboratory right here. Where are the researchers to say, how did you change? Why did you change? What is it that caused you to change and how can we apply what works for you to others?
We never ask people living in these neighborhoods why some of you are raising five children that are watching television, that are around guns, that are sitting on porches, that are being shot, that you don't buy a gun and retaliate. What explains the difference in the response of your family rather than the family next door?
These are critical questions that we need to be asking when we are searching for remedies, instead of always defining the problem as somehow external on the supply side. We need to concentrate on the demand side.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Eberly, you had a comment and then we need to move on.
Mr. EBERLY. I just want to add, again, in response to the suggestion by Mr. Valenti that there are people around the world who don't seem to be affected byand there are certain cultures where there does seem to be a high degree of aggressive material and even sexual violence and so forth in which, due to other institutions, working males seem to be under a reasonable amount of control.
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But I would want to suggest to you that most societies around the world who are thinking about opening do not have the benign view of American culture that seems to be implied in that response. In fact, this is where American pop culture and America's position in the world, mainly even foreign policy for that matter, is increasingly coming into intersection in the sense that a lot of increased anti-Americanism around the world has to do with the sense that while people, and especially societies, that are open and have an interest in our democratic values, the first thing to come in is American popular culture.
I was speaking in this building last December to a group of Chinese, PRC Chinese, who are looking at democratization. All of them are committed to democratization, probably representing 100 million people in China, 60 leaders in a room right down the hall.
I speak a lot about character and character-shaping institutions and the requirements of creating democratic citizenship if you are going to have an open and free society. They said, here is our concern. We are interested in promoting democratization and openness, but the first thing that happens the moment that we open our society is American pop culture comes in and immediately begins to corrupt the very virtues that are necessary for a free society to function.
Which is why, again, I mentioned in my statement, this is not about strictly private matters, consumers making bad choices. This is really about the destiny of America's place in the world.
I think it is a mistake to even perhaps inadvertently imply that the business that we are talking about here, namely the most toxic forms of popular mass culture, is benign in respect to the functioning of democratic societies.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Eberly.
Mr. Berman, thank you for your questions as well.
It so happens in the line of questioners, I am up next, and I recognize myself for that purpose. Before I get to my own questions, what I would like to do is supplement what you all have said, and also our earlier student panelist said, by passing along the thoughts of some students from my congressional district in Texas, the 21st Congressional District.
What we did was ask them what they thought was the cause of violence in schools and what they thought should be done. We provided them with an e-mail address. We frankly received a flood of hundreds and hundreds of responses. Generally, these students have said, as you all have done, I think, that the institutions of family and schools are largely in disrepair. First, it is all too often described, their daily school environment is one of tension between student groups, is one of both verbal and physical conflict, and is one of hate and fear.
A high school junior wrote, ''I have not felt safe in school since the sixth grade.'' Another student wrote, ''I think there is way too much hatred in our schools.'' Another said, ''I can walk down the halls of my school, and even though it is a small school, I can still feel the coldness that some of the kids have toward each other.''
Attempting to explain the Columbine shootings, a student said, ''The students were constantly ridiculed to the point where they felt that the school deserved to be punished.'' Another added, ''I myself have been made fun of a lot in my life, and I know what it feels like to have little or no friends.''
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Students repeatedly wrote that they wanted teachers and school officials to do more to create a school environment in which fear and harassment do not rule the day: Quote, ''I believe that teachers, with administrators, need to have a little more interaction with those that are not in the popular group.''
Another student wrote of the Columbine shooting, ''This sort of anger does not accrue overnight. It starts at home.''
Another said, ''Parents can be the biggest factor in preventing another tragedy.''
Another, ''The reason that these kids are influenced by the gangs, movies, or athletes is for the sole reason that their parents were not there to provide the influence or inspiration.''
Another added, ''So many children only do bad things because their parents don't notice or fail to notice unless they are doing badly.''
Another said, ''If you are in town, look around, and there are kids that are 10, 11, 12 years old outside walking down the street by themselves. If you ask them, do they know where their parents are, the majority of the time they will say no.''
Speaking more generally, a student wrote, ''Parents have nothing to do with their children. Our society today encourages individuals to be individuals and to do whatever feels good. Students don't have anyone to look up to.''
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While looking to parents for more guidance and support, a student commented, ''Paying more attention to your child will make them feel loved and special. They will not have to look anywhere else for things to make them feel better.''
Another said, ''There is more to parents' lives than their jobs. They have responsibilities to society and their families as parents.''
Said another, ''We need to be a more family-oriented society.''
A student recommended that parents should spend time daily with their child, have meals together, get to know your child's friends, and just talk.
Now, two final student comments, and I think these are very, very telling. Perhaps, Mr. Medved, I will ask you to comment on these two final quotes. ''Most of the time when parents ask us youth who we look up to most, we say superstars or actors. If you look really hard, you will find out that really deep down inside we look up to our parents more than any other person.''
Finally, ''Families that are family oriented need to be the people that step up and take the students that are hurting in their arms. The Littleton kids were victims of a dying society that was built around 'I' instead of around 'us.' ''
I want to thank the students from the 21st District for expressing their good feelings and their good thoughts.
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Let me end with a question directed towardsI will have to admit my bias at the outset toward a college classmate, Mr. Medved. Mr. Medved, you and earlier several others, including Mr. Valenti, said that you weren't sure how much the wanton and graphic violence and sex influenced the lives of the average American child, but you knew it had to be of some influence; and at least a part of their actions were due to what they saw, as you said, Mr. Medved, 20 or 28 hours a week on TV and so forth.
My question is, don't you thinkand I am sorry Mr. Valenti isn't here to help answer the question as wellthat those who are determining what we see on the screen and on our TVs have more responsibility to respond to the concerns of Americans and perhaps change the content and reduce the violence and reduce the sex?
I know that you said earlier you weren't concerned about too much sex and too much violence, but surely we have reached some kind of a level. Mr. Medved.
Mr. MEDVED. Representative Smith, I am very much concerned with too much sex and too much violence. What I was saying was, I believe the deeper problem, the underlying problem, is simply too much TV, that even if you reduce the levels of sex and violence, you still have a toxic impact of that much TV viewing.
There is no question at all that people who are working in publicly held companies with stockholders should be called to account for some of the more egregious excesses that occur from time to time on television, on cable television, broadcast television, and certainly motion pictures.
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Another proposal which has made me even further confirm my status as one of the least popular people in the Hollywood community, I made a proposal several years ago which truly I believe could be discussed, and it involves a governmental role, probably a Federal Governmental role.
We recognize as a society that it makes a difference whether you are going to the store and buying mineral water or you are going to the store and buying Scotch. There is an extra excise tax on the Scotch to register the extra social cost. By the same token, you can buy rosemary as an herb and you are taxed very differently than if you buy tobacco. There is a recognition that you assess a special tax to try to adjust this cost to society.
Is it utterly outrageous to suggest a special tax for the most egregious, offending material? That changes the economic calculation of any producer, because what it means is that if you go to the multiplex and you are seeing a number of different movies, while ''A Bug's Life'' is going to end up costing a little bit less than going to see ''Natural Born Killers'' or ''Idle Hands,'' which is this high school massacre film that Sony released the week of Littleton.
Mr. SMITH. That sounds like a good solution. Is that somewhere between your earlier moderate and radical proposals?
Mr. MEDVED. Yes.
Mr. SMITH. Incidentally, I would not worry about your popularity with certain individuals. It seems to me you would be very popular with the American people. Thank you, Mr. Medved.
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We will now go to the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would particularly like to thank Mrs. Phillips Taylor for your very moving testimony. We don't hear that enough. I share your outrage that it looks like we are going backwards rather than forwards in our public policy decision-making. Hang in there. We are going to try to do better in the House.
Dr. Cornell, in your testimony, you indicate that you have control studies that show what works and doesn't work. Could you give us some examples of treatment programs that actually reduce recidivism, or prevention programs that work to reduce juvenile crime, and how do you know they work?
Mr. CORNELL. We have the same kind of study from the same kind of evidence, controlled outcome studies with random assignment to groups that you would have
Mr. SCOTT. Would you move your mike a little closer, please?
Mr. CORNELL. Yes. Excuse me. We have the same kind of studies, using the same kind of scientific principles that we use to develop a new drug or a new medical technique. And like those new drugs or new medical techniques. They are not 100 percent effective, but they are effective and they do have cost-effective benefits.
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For example, we have reviewed over 83 studies of institutional treatment, treating juvenile offenders in institutions. We find that when we provide them with effective counseling, drug counseling, with vocational training and community follow-up, that we reduce their criminal recidivism by 30 to 40 percent. That is a substantial reduction over what would happen if they were treated as they generally are, usually, now.
There are also over 100 studies of noninstitutional treatment where we have treated first-time offenders in the community in their homes with programs basically focused on strengthening the family, on helping the parents to inculcate their children with the kind of moral values and sense of responsibility which Mr. Woodson and others have talked about. When we help parents to accomplish that task, we are working inside rather than from the outside. Again, over 100 such studies have demonstrated conclusively that we can cut criminal recidivism in half among juvenile offenders.
That is very cost effective. Cutting it in half saves us millions of dollars that we wouldn't otherwise have to spend on prisons and incarceration.
There are also a number of prevention programs before the young people commit their first offense. Mentoring programs, after-school, supervised recreation programs, parent education programs, conflict resolution training. There are lots of these programs. Many of them are not well run; many of them are not adequately funded or adequately staffed. But where we have held them to high standards and implemented them in an accurate and rigorous fashion, control studies show that they work.
Page 232 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We know how to do it. We simply have to have the will and the resources to follow through.
Mr. SCOTT. Do some of those studies show that we save more money than we would spend if we would implement those programs?
Mr. CORNELL. We save a great deal more money than we spend on these programs. The Rand study on the effectiveness of early intervention shows tremendous cost benefits. Every dollar spent saves many more dollars. This is not to talk about the cost of human suffering that we have heard about today.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
Mr. Woodson, you indicated a need to get some researchers where the research needs to be done. I am aware of one study in Chicago that has been ongoing for several years, and we need to follow through on that study run by Abt Associates, and I would like to work with you on that as we evaluate their findings.
You have had quite a success in what you have done. Can you give us some information about what kind of community programs we could fund that would reduce crime and how much those programs would cost?
Mr. WOODSON. Yes. We have, in the book that we have given you on a ''Violence Free Zone,'' we have looked at communities, like Bene Terrace is one. We have gone to taking that model to Richmond public housing in Dallas, Texas. That was one of the most dangerous crime-ridden neighborhoods. There has not been a single death since August.
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We worked with Pete Gooden at the DEA, Drug Enforcement, in looking at police data to look at what impact it has on it. The characteristics of the programs at work, we have gone around the country for 2 years and had running grass-roots leaders in a 500-mile radius over a 2-year period over 3 days and asked them what works and why does it work.
We followed up with evaluating some of the impact. What you find is that faith-based programs work to change people. John Dillio from Princeton and others have found that if you do some comparisonI think it is important to compare some of the coaches that we just referenced.
If you were to compare in the areas of drug and alcohol treatment conventional therapeutic intervention costs, roughly $600 a day with about a 6 to 10 percent success rate, faith-based programs have an 80 percent success rate at a cost of $65 a day. That is because if you look at the characteristics of those who intervene, they tend to be people that share the same zip code with people experiencing the problem.
The people who intervene have made a lifetime commitment to the young people they serve. They are not there for the life of a grant or contract. Programs usually predate funding, which means that people have made an investment. The fourth one is, they seek rehabilitation which restores a person, seeks to take that person and make them something different.
The young men that you see here have powerful influence in their neighborhood over the attitudes and values of the kids who even look to them as fathers because many of their fathers are not there. We have found in Bene Terrace and other studies that we have spent about $500,000 in housing receivership over the past year, that we have saved $13 million as a consequence of our neighborhood-based intervention. But what happens is that there are very few people that step up and make that kind of investment in neighborhood.
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Washington, D.C., by example, sent four young men to Lake Placid, New York, to a psychiatric treatment center, a school, at a cost of $125,000 per child per year. One of those young people left there, killed a grocer two blocks from where he did the first murder, and went back and bragged to some of his fellow students, and that is how the public found out. No one ever asked that psychiatric institute what their track record was of curing kids with this kind of malady. We never asked the professional psychiatric/psychological community for their specific track record in curing this kind of illness.
But neighborhood-based organizations have a clear track record of effectively changing the values, and I would challengelet me just conclude with, I think there needs to be a test of this.
I would like to turn over 100 young men and women from one of these troubled communities to a therapeutic community and let my faith-based people take 100 people. At the end of the year, let's see how many are cured. Whoever comes out ahead should receive the bulk of the funding in the future.
What about that as a demonstration?
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Scott.
The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Barr, is recognized.
Mr. BARR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the panelists and the previous panelists as well. It is a very, very enlightening hearing today.
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I enjoy reading newspapers. One reason I enjoy reading newspapers is because every time that you think that you have read the most outrageous thing possible, darned if you don't pick up the newspaper the next day and there is something even more outrageous.
In today's Washington Times there is an article that I would like to read a little bit of here. This is a quote from this story.
''The robed high priestess turns her back to the fire, faces a makeshift altar, and blesses the essentials of life, water, bread, and salt. 'Great Goddess Friea, bless this creature of the Earth to your service,' she recites, placing the shiny blade of her dagger over a small bowl of salt. 'May we always honor the blessed Earth. It has many forms and beings,''' closed quote.
The article goes on to describe that this was taking place not out in the desert somewhere with some cult group, but on a United States Army installation, Fort Hood.
This is the reaction of the Army to this. This is the sort of leadership, the moral leadership, that we are providing our children; and we wonder why they are confused. This is our Army saying this: ''Fort Hood works hard to understand and accommodate the Wiccans,'' says Colonel Jerome Haberack, a Catholic priest and chief chaplain of the Third Army Corps, which includes 75,000 soldiers stationed at Fort Hood and other posts worldwide.
Quote, ''We kind of struggle through this,'' he says.
Page 236 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And we wonder why we have kids that are drifting around aimlessly when the United States Army allows not faith in God, but witches to worship on military bases by active duty military personnel; and the best that we can tell our young people and our service people is that we have to struggle through this.
You turn over to page 2 of the Washington Times for today, and there is a picture here of several students sitting around smiling on a campus wearing T-shirts, shorts and so forth. This is a group of Human Secularists. And this article talks about the new face that the Human Secularists are putting on their effort to recruit young people in our society. They say that they no longer use the word ''atheist'' because it doesn't go over very well, but the word ''humanist,'' the way they describe it, goes over much better.
So this is what we are doing with our young people. This is what we are doing in our military.
And where is President Clinton? Well, Clinton is out in Hollywood seeking $1.5 million from Hollywood, and we wonder why our kids are confused. We wonder why they do these things when our military, our leaders, are exerting no moral guidance and leadership whatsoever. As a matter of fact, they are taking this in the opposite direction.
Every Member of Congress, on the walls of their office, and ours is no exception, has a lot of things on the walls from our districts and communities, and so forth. One of the things that we have on the wall of our office is this. It is the Ten Commandments, the sixth of which says, Thou shalt not kill.
Page 237 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have never had anybody come into our office and say, we feel intimidated because you have the Ten Commandments hanging on your wall. I have never had anybody object to thisold people, young people, from anywhere in the country or foreign countries that visit the office of the people of the Seventh District of Georgia and complain that they feel intimidated that I am trying to proselytize them into becoming Methodist simply because I am a Methodist and I happen to have the Ten Commandments on my wall.
Frankly, I think that if we had this on the walls of our schools rather than some of the nonsense that we see not only on the walls of our schools but on the clothes that kids are allowed to wear at schools, and maybe if we had this hanging on the walls of Fort Hood, instead of allowing witches to worship while on active duty, by God, maybe we would have less of these murders in our schools and in our communities.
Mr. Woodson, in particular, I salute you and Mrs. Hearne for talking about God and talking about faith and talking about religion. We had to go through an awful lot of these panels before we heard that word, and I think that you were the first, Mr. Woodson.
To a large extent, what we have to do is get back to some basics here, but it is going to require a mighty effort when we are fighting a President whose response to this is to go to Hollywood to seek money from the very people that he mildly rebukes, and while we have military leaders whose idea of backbone is saying, we have to allow this. But we will struggle through it.
Thank you all for exerting at least some moral leadership and for the young people, Mr. Woodson, that you work with in particular. Thank you.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Barr.
The gentlewoman from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee, is recognized.
I am sorry; Mr. Watt has just joined us. The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, it would be fine if you want to go directly to her.
Mr. SMITH. She just signaled to you.
Mr. WATT. In that case, I just walked in. I am sorry for having to leave.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Jackson Lee is recognized.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. We are both trying to be respectful, and if Mr. Watt does not mind, I appreciate it very much because I thought it was somewhat going to fallto be my lot to follow the eloquence of the words of Mr. Barr.
Speaking about culture, the title of this particular hearing is Youth Culture and Violence. Let me thank the panel and express my regrets that Mr. Valenti had to leave inasmuch as I have been wading through several hearings. He had one in the Senate. I am not a Senator.
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I had a hearing forum last week on school violence, the crisis of school violence, the Congressional Children's Caucus, how do we help our children, and he was not able to attend that. I look forward to having an opportunity to engage him directly.
Ms. Taylor, I simply want to say to you, amongst all of us in this roomand I can certainly be corrected because I don't know and have not queried everyone hereif there is anyone that has standing or has cause, has outrage, it is you, a mother, a parent who has come to us, I think, and said in the most pointed wayto which I don't take any offensenow is the time to do something.
And if I may make some remarks and then ask a question, that is the theme that I hear. When are we going to do something? And, frankly, we have responded to the Littleton tragedy like we did Jonesboro and others by meeting and hearing and talking about whose fault it is.
I say to the faith community, of which I consider myself a part, no one is stopping you from getting into this. No one is denying you the opportunity of opening the doors of the churches and synagogues and parishes, which many have done, and taking children in after school, the latchkey children. So when I hear that discussion, I take it hopefully with the sensitivity that it is offered, but I am wondering to myself, who is stopping them?
I welcome the models that can be offered, so that I can study them further, but no one is stopping the faith-based community from rising up and saying that we are in charge, I hope today a signal that says, we are going to do something.
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I hear my friends talking about the media. Let me say, I was a supporter and am a supporter of the V-chip, a supporter of the amendment in the telecommunications bill, that was ruled unconstitutional, to get pornography off of the Internet. I am back in the saddle again and will work with anyone who will do it.
But let me give an analysis or a metaphor for what I see that we are doing here. In the 1950's, people used to talk about violent comic books; but we didn't have the massive violence among children, so we talked about violent comic books, and I imagine we didn't respond. What we had then was an oil spill. I am from Texas, so my oil friends will forgive me, and it is not a negative against them, but we didn't have the match. We didn't walk into the oil spill with a match.
Today we have violent TV and we have violent Internet, but we have the match. We have a society that does have a lot of problems and we have a society that is overbrimming with guns, the match. But what happens in hearings like this is that everybody has got the finger doing like this in your eye.
I woke up after Littleton and said that I will not stand another day looking in a mirror and blame somebody else when something like this possibly happens. So here is my perspective. We have got a problem with the media and the movies and the ratings; I agree with the first witness. So it is time for Hollywood to stop pointing the finger.
But we have also got a problem with guns and the response that people kill. But they use guns to kill.
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And then we have the problem when people reject the fact that our children do not have the right kind of counseling services from K thru 12. I have heard that from childrennobody to talk to, no hot line, guidance counselors that deal with career emphasis, but not my problems in my head.
I am going to be looking to do an omnibus children's health bill, mental health, because I don't think there is one answer. I am going to be asking Speaker Hastert, as the mothers did before Mother's Day, to put gun legislation on the floor of the House for us to debate.
Who will stand up and be counted with me about that? Or are we going to stand around and have another hearing while guns are proliferating, and while children are hurting because they have no counseling services. Or is our faith-based community going to wait for me to say that it is time for you to go. This is more than a notion, if you will. We need more time.
The red light is on. I am going to ask one question before the light goes out and ask the chairman's indulgence. Are we finger pointing? Is anyone here prepared to act? Can you join around the idea of gun legislation, safety legislation, responsibility? Can you join around the idea that inner city children and suburban children need mental health services, intervention services, and not services that simply lock them up for bad behavior?
With that, I would ask the question of the panelists and I yield to the panelists to answer the question.
Page 242 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. Ms. Jackson Lee, would you identify a particular panelist so that we can move on after their brief answers?
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I would be happy to, Mr. Chairman.
I would start with my television media critic. I would like his response.
I would like Ms. Taylor to respond if she would, and I would like my alma mater, the University of Virginia, if the doctor would respond as well.
I apologize to the other witnesses. Mr. Woodson, if we have time, since you were the faith-based individual, if you would be last. I am sorry, sir.
Mr. MEDVED. Thank you for the question. Thank you for the statement. I truly believe that the deeper problem, the deepest problem involves individuals and not tools. That is my personal conviction.
Concerning your suggestion, Representative Jackson Lee, that we need more intervention in schools, I would love to see a test, such as that that Mr. Woodson has suggested. I think it is worth remembering regarding these school shootings, in Springfield, Oregon, there was a young man named Kip Kinkle. He was under intensive doctor care; he was under medication. Eric Harris was seeing a psychiatrist
Ms. JACKSON LEE. They were off the medication on the day of. The question is whether they had the right kind of supervision.
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Mr. MEDVED. The question that I would just throw back to you is, there is a limited record that psychiatric services can prevent this kind of event simply because so many of the shooters have already had some kind of psychiatric intervention.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I am appalled at that only because the question is whether the intervention is early enough.
Doctor, if you would, and I would like to go to Ms. Taylor next.
Mr. CORNELL. There is not one solution to this problem. We can each pick our favorite solutions and pick at the other solutions and say, well, the solution that you propose or want to do, that isn't very effective because I know a case where it failed. We can do this for every single solution and we end up with nothing.
We have to be constructive here. We have to recognize this is not one problem, not one solution, that there are multiple factors involved. There is both a motive, a method, and a means to address this problem. We have effective ways to work. We cannot simply degenerate into criticizing one another.
All of our schools that receive Safe and Drug-Free Schools money are now required to have evidence of the effectiveness of what they do. That is a great idea, a great proposal. It would be a great event if they followed through and insisted that our schools do that because there are effective programs available. We simply need to implement them.
Page 244 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. JACKSON LEE. So you see the value of enhanced mental health services?
Mr. CORNELL. Absolutely, and there are controlled outcome studies to show the effectiveness of treatment in preventing violence in young people. There are always exceptions. There are people who die in our hospitals, but we still go to our hospitals because we know by and large they are going to help us, and the same is true for mental health services. The same is true for religious counseling and for education and for many other approaches.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Ms. Taylor, please.
Ms. TAYLOR. As I outlined about the different laws that I thought that we have dropped the ball on, I also think we ought to look at the Children's Gun Violence Prevention Act, and I ask you to look at that. I don't want you to think that I come up here and whine just about this.
I do try to do something, like going to the schools and going to the boys and girls clubs and tell Scott's story and let them know that when you pull a gun on somebody, they are dead, and they die alone, and it is final. So I think we all could do a little more of that.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Are you asking us to do something now?
Ms. TAYLOR. Yes, I am begging you. Please.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. I am hearing you. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. The gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon, is recognized.
Mr. CANNON. I had a markup earlier and was unable to be here for the whole thing. I apologize if I ask a redundant question or two. I appreciate the input that you are making to this process.
Mr. Medved, can I ask a follow-up question on your reference to the studies of homicides doubling within 15 years? Could you tell us a little bit about that, and in particular when you introduce television into a society, a lot of other things are going on at the same time you are industrializing. Have these studies taken into account what are those other problems that begin to emerge in a society at the time you introduce television?
Mr. MEDVED. Yes, they have been taken into account, and Dr. Centerwald has adjusted and run controls for other factors. Other factors taken into account, there is a clear relationship between a generation raisedthe reason that the 15 number is so significant, Representative Cannon, is that is what it takes to raise a generation to the prime age of youth violence, especially when TV has begun so early.
One of the problems that we have in this country, and most parents are not aware of this, there are a whole cluster of developmental and psychological problems that are exacerbated by kids watching too much TV at age 1. Through public broadcasting, we have Teletubbies, which is a charming show, but it is aimed specifically at 1-year-olds. It is highly questionable whether 1-year-olds should be plopped down in front of a television set in some cases 6 or 7 hours a day.
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Mr. CANNON. I have a 1-year-old, and she has a little Teletubby, and you squeeze it and it teaches her to talk. I don't think that she has seen it on television yet.
Dr. Cornell, do you have anything to add about those studies?
Mr. CORNELL. Well, the effects are cumulative. Certainly he is quite correct they control for other factors; do the parents have a criminal record, are they involved in drugs and so on and so forth. The classic study was by Eron and Huesmann who are now at the University of Michigan. They started with children when they were 8 years old, followed them into adulthood, and they found that the amount of violence on TV that they were watching at age 8 was the best clinical predictor of how aggressive they were as adults, how likely they were to get into trouble with the law, and whether they were involved in domestic violence and other forms of violence. And this is after controlling for their social class, for their parents' discipline practices, for their intelligence and religious background. It still held true. It is not the only factor. It is not the controlling factor, but it is a pervasive one.
Mr. CANNON. You are talking about adjusting for things pretty much in the family, in the home, but a lot of other things are going on in society. When you introduce television, you are also probably introducing more factory jobs, more industrialization, stoplights.
Mr. CORNELL. True. And we have lots of societies where those things are introduced, but TV is not. So we can look at the effects of industrialization, for example, of greater use of combustion engines, exposure to lead in the environment. We can look at a lot of those factors where they have not introduced TV and see what that effect is, and that pales in significance to the introduction of television.
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Mr. MEDVED. One of the things that Centerwald was looking at specifically was areas in Canada where it was highly industrialized before the late 1960's andbecause they deliberately resisted welcoming TV, and then they welcomed TV in the late 1960's, and the same correlation held.
Mr. CANNON. Do you have easy access to a copy of this study?
Mr. GROSSMAN. I have copies that we can get here within a half hour or so. I will give you a full copy of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Lord willing, I have a copy in my briefcase.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, we will make that a part of the record.
[The information referred to follows:]
Page 248 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC62441am.eps
Mr. CANNON. Can I ask one final question to Mrs. Hughes. I really appreciate your testimony, and the format is very readable. Can you give us, in a minute or so, just a list of things that parents can do in their homes to help their children avoid the perils of the Internet?
Ms. HUGHES. Thank you. First of all, we do recognize that parents are the first line of defense, but they certainly can't shoulder the burden alone. One of the challenges that we have seen is that children are usually more computer-literate than parents, so that creates a tremendous challenge for parents to begin to protect their kids on-line. But there are many things that they can do that are not even technical, like keeping the computer in a public area of the house and not behind closed doors in a bedroom. That sets up automatic accountability.
It is also important to teach your children about the anonymity on-line, that who they may be interacting with may not be who that person claims to be. Someone claiming to be a 13-year-old could, in fact, be a 50-year-old. Teaching your children not to give out personal information, never giving out their real name, phone number, address or where they go to school. And vulnerable children can get tricked into giving this information, especially if they have befriended somebody on-line. Know your children's on-line activities and their friends. Spend time on-line with children. Children are the best teachers of the parents to begin to explore and open up to their parents the Internet.
Also the importance of using software tools. There is a lot of talk right now if you just teach safety, that is enough. It is not enough because of what I showed in the demonstration. Kids can accidentally come across not only inappropriate information, but illegal content. And there are those who can come into the privacy of your child's home and interact with them. So having the software tools and using those tools, and not just in the home, but also for the schools and the libraries to implement that combination of safety rules and software tools; I call that tools and rules. One without the other is going to be ineffective because of the supply of information that is coming through the computer.
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Mr. CANNON. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Cannon.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized. If he wanted to yield part of his time to the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt, we can finish up before this vote.
Mr. WATT. I would just ask one brief question, picking up on the testimony that the students from this morning's panelone of the points that they made was class sizes have just gotten way out of hand, and school sizes have gotten way out of hand. And it seems to me that just from my experience having gone to a school that went grades 1 through 12, and everybody knew everybody else, and we thought it was terrible at that time because everybody else was changing classes and everybody else was going to the bigger, fancier schools, I am just wondering whether, in particular Ms. Hearne and Mr. Woodson, are there any other teachers or anybody else who might have an opinion on this issue, whether you think that heads us in the right direction if we can get back to smaller class sizes?
Ms. HEARNE. Yes, I think very definitely. Not so much smaller class sizes, because I think under some pretty trying circumstances teachers can get and relate to the children with a large class. It is how manyit is like in the high school, how many kids do they have in a day.
My husband routinely has about 100 students, and he is one of those old-fashioned teachers that demand essay exams and essay tests, and every 2 weeks those kids have to put down on paper the reasons why certain things happened, and they have to call on their memory, and they have to learn to be able to articulate what they have been taught in history. That takes a great deal of time and effort, and the families of teachers who do thatI don't get to really see him from the end of August until the first of June. But the problem is not so much the class size as it is how many kids do they have totally as well as how large the school is. When you have a large school, you get a large bureaucracy at the top. Money goes to paper-pushing and other things other than teaching.
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Mr. WATT. Mr. Woodson, if you can address that quickly and then Dr. Cornell, and then I want to quickly yield.
Mr. WOODSON. We have visited 200 schools in low-income black schools like the Chad School in Newark where 70 percent of the households are black females making under $20,000. And in those schools, there is the absence of violence, absence of teenager pregnancy, and 95 percent of those kids graduate and go on to postsecondary education. There are all kinds of examples where the whole culture of the schoolsand they don't select, they don't cream. So there are examples of, I think, excellence that we can draw upon to ask why don't they have violence in those schools in those same drug-infested neighborhoods and others do.
Mr. CORNELL. Yes, we certainly should not have schools over 1,000 students. There is too much anonymity. We also need staff, as I was heartened to hear those youngsters mention. Every school needs a trained staff member who can provide risk assessment, crisis intervention and short-term counseling to potentially violent students.
Today the people who could do that spend all of their time with paperwork, reevaluations and testing to meet Federal guidelines and standards that already exist. They don't have the time to deal with these problems.
Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, I am happy to yield to Mr. Delahunt if we can make it possible.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I don't think there is any time left.
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Mr. SMITH. Why don't you ask your question. I think we do have time for one more.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I don't think that I have the time to ask a question. I will just make some observations.
I think two things. I think there is a consensus that there is not a single answer and that there is no panacea. I was the district attorney for 21 years in a major jurisdiction in the Boston area, and I think, Mr. Eberly, your testimony resonated very much with me in regard to the hollowing out of the community. There is a theme that has run through all of your testimony, and it is a sense of community, the large school versus the small school.
I remember as a youngster coming home from the local Catholic school and stopping in at the independent drugstore that Mr. Jones was the proprietor of. And he knew Billy, Billy Delahunt, and he knew my parents, and he sponsored the Little League team. That doesn't happen today with CVS or Walgreen's. There is this whole shift going on in terms of community or a sense of community.
I think it was Dr. Cornell who spoke about domestic violence. I initiated the first domestic violence unit in the Nation back in the mid-1970's when it wasn't even a concept in terms of public discourse.
My own sense is thatwe know these kids. We know that people don't just parachute in and start shooting. It is a learned behavior. If we are ever going to do anything about it, it has to be a community response. It has got to be all of us participating. And where that has happened in places in this Nation, the results have been extraordinary.
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Let me takeI will say this with some pridethe city of Boston. When I first became the district attorney back in 1975, there were 140 homicides. This year it is under 30. That is striking, and it is dramatic, but that simply is not the answer either, although I would suggest we look at the study done back in the early 1970's by Richard Gellese out of the University of Rhode Island. It was done in San Quentin. You have a great control group there. There were 50 individuals who had been incarcerated for armed robbery, not a crime of domestic violence, but armed robbery. A hundred percent of them
Mr. HYDE. There is only 3 minutes left for the vote.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I think everyone else can leave. You can just let me rant and rail.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Delahunt.
Let me thank all of the witnesses today for their contributions, both in pointing out the problems and in offering solutions.
We will now recess until 2:15, and then we will return to the first panel.
Mr. HYDE. [Presiding.] The committee will come to order.
Page 253 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank you for your steadfastness in hanging around. It has been a full day, and we can't sometimes synchronize the votes on the floor and other meetings, but your testimony is important, and we want it in the record. We were questioning you when we had to bring the other panel on. Mr. Valenti had to go to Texas for a speech, and Mr. Medved had to go prepare his radio program, et cetera, et cetera. Thank you for your cooperation.
Mr. Delahunt, would you like to question these folks?
Mr. DELAHUNT. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to congratulate them, because I think you did a very fine job, and I think your testimony was really beneficial to every member of the committee.
I have only a few questions. You know, there are various initiatives or programs or efforts that are school-based. Carly, I just read briefly your testimony and just caught pieces of what you had to say about the Teen Court, and that has been replicated elsewhere, and it has proven to be very effective.
Earlierwere you present here during the testimony of the second panel?
Ms. CELMER. The majority of it.
Mr. DELAHUNT. I made the comment that I think what we heard today was, and I think it was unanimous, that the problem of youth violence in this Nation is not susceptible to a single answer. It is not just guns or the school, it is not faith-based remedies, et cetera. It is much more fundamental.
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And what I find interesting is that what occurred out in Littleton obviously served as the catalyst for the efforts that you are seeing here now in Washington, and I want to applaud the chairman, Mr. Hyde, for conducting this oversight hearing and getting witnesses such as you to testify.
But I think it is important when you talk about school violence, it isn't just at the school, it is out in the streets. It is everywhere. And we also should stop and thinkI don't know if you heard me, I talked about the statistics and the data are such that there really has been a substantial decline in violence in the pastlet's say the past decade. If you just watch those statistics, and I cited my own State and the city of Boston specifically, when I first became the district attorney up there, there were 140 homicides, and this year, God willing, there will be less than 30, maybe even less than 20, which tells us that there are good things that are out there. But it is not just the schools that must deal with it. It really has to be the entire community that is invested in it.
My own experience has been that the place or the venue where we can identify children, young people, who are at risk is the school. So it is not just about thinking of the school and making the school safer, but identifying those young people who are at risk or are potentially dangerous to the community.
And I initiated a program a long time ago. I called it the Student Alliance against Racism and Violence. What we did was to bring the students in as part of the solution, much like what I think I heard from you, Carly. It really wasn't a Teen Court, but they were the best ones to identify for adults, for teachers and others where they heard things, they saw things, they observed things about individual students that triggered concern. And they brought this to the attention of the larger community, not just the district attorney's office, not just the police, not just the school. But what we did was we coordinated so that we could intervene at a very early stage. You know, if someone's grades were slipping, if they were depressed, they might be acting out in a way that was outside of the school, it really was very, very effective. I just offer that for you to comment on.
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I think that you have a substantial role to play. I am talking about young people. Oftentimes adults say that youth is the leadership tomorrow. I don't buy that. I really believe that you have a role, a leadership role, to play right now in terms of dealing with these issues. Everybody has got to get involved in the remedy, everybody. It is the church, it is the business community, it is our civic and fraternal organizations. It is the public institutions, but it has got to be done by everybody.
And I would suggest that a role that the school can play is identifying those that, if they go unidentified, are not just going to create a problem in the school, but at some point in their adult life are going to end up incarcerated, and are going to commit violence out in the community, maybe not as a serial murderer, but they are going to commit rapes and armed robberies. If we can engage people like you, we will continue to see a decline in the level of violence.
Now, you can comment or not, but welcome, and thank you so much for your testimony.
Mr. HYDE. I think you have left them speechless, Bill.
Ms. CELMER. I want to comment. I completely agree with you. I think we have talked a lot about teachers forming relationships with students, but I think the core problem is students with students. Teenagers tend to take their own insecurities and impose them on other people. If they are scared they are not fitting in, they will make fun of others so they are part of the cool crowd. I think giving students the opportunity to share that with other students and tell other students exactly the effects of their actions when they make fun of other kids or pick on other children, that is where it all starts, and that is where the ostracism starts, and I think teenagers have to be aware of the problems that they are creating, and they have to look out for each other.
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Mr. PICK. And when you retire from Congress, you might consider a principal position because you are right on target there.
Mr. HYDE. Okay. Mr. Rogan, the gentleman from California.
Mr. ROGAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you. First, let me confess to you, Mr. Chairman, something that one who serves under a committee chairman often thinks but rarely admits publicly. I came to this hearing with a degree of trepidation. We sometimes have hearings in Congress that just give Members of Congress the opportunity to posture before the cameras in light of tragedy. I have just turned 180 degrees around on this. I think this has been an incredibly important hearing; it has been important for me. I say this with all respect to the other witnesses that we have had here today, many of whom are friends, or who come from some of the most elite levels of society. You three young people have clearly outshown them. And so, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for calling this hearing, and I thank you for compelling attendance today, because otherwise I might have missed some very important testimony.
Michele and Carly and Brian, I am overwhelmed by your presence, and also your message. As I have been watching you through the day, I reflected back on when I was in high school. My throat tightened up when I had to answer ''present'' when they called the roll in class. The concept of sitting before the House Judiciary Committee and testifying before the Nation is something I just never could have mustered the nerve to do. Not only have all three of you done it, you have done it well in a most compelling fashion. You had Members of Congress listening intently. I thank you for your courage and your presentation.
Page 257 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the other reasons that I have been particularly moved by what you have had to say today is the subject at hand. It is one that haunts me night and day, and I wanted to ask you if things have changed much since that long ago day when I was in high school.
I came from what some people would say was clearly a dysfunctional family. My mom was a single mom on welfare and food stamps, and I was the oldest of four kids. When people like me come from that circumstance, they tend to live in neighborhoods where other people come from those circumstances. And what I found is when one finds pockets of single parents in the home, or maybe no parents when the student came home at the end of the day, it ratcheted up the number of people involving themselves in drugs and violence.
My suspicion is that it has not changed very much since I was in high school. But, Brian, I would like to get your impression of how much that plays a part in the troubles that you see at your own schools?
Ms. DANIELS. In my school there is not a lot of violence. My school is like one of the safest schools in D.C., but in my neighborhood that is where the problem is. In the last 2 years everyone is saying that crime decreased, but in my neighborhood it increased in the last 2 years.
I think it goes back to the lack of recreation centers or programs for youth to be a part of something positive instead of just the streets, because that is the major problem. We have nowhere to go, and the only thing that is out there is the street. When childrenthey needthey see others with tennis shoes and nice clothes, and their family has no money. They cannot find a job, and so they go to the street and get some easy money. They try to fit in with everyone else, and when they don't have any money and lack all of these things that everyone else has, and they are being made fun of, I think that for one we really need to get back recreation centers.
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I remember reading something in my D.C. history book. It said Congress wanted to make about 10 to 20 recreation centers, but they lacked funds so they only made three, and they said if they didn't make enough, there was going to be delinquency, and that is what I am seeing.
Ms. CELMER. I think what is hard in single-parent homes is not necessarily the fact that there is one parent, but the amount of attention that the child receives. If a single parent is successful at both making an income and at the same time paying attention to their child, I don't think that plays a role in our problem.
But even in families where there are two parents, if the parents are not aware of what the children are doing, the children will go out of the way to do worse things. If my mom doesn't care what time I come home, I am going to try to do something more horrible so that she actually cares when I come home. Even in my school, which tends to have a reputation of being a really good school, there are children who will outlash.
Mr. ROGAN. I found as I got a little bit older, it wasn't so much that kids minded being disciplined; in fact, it seemed like they wanted to be disciplined, because with discipline from a loving parent came the message that the parent cared.
Ms. CELMER. I think they complain about discipline. At the same time, if you don't discipline them, inside they will do something, otherwise they feel that they are not getting enough attention.
Page 259 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROGAN. Brian, what do you think?
Mr. PICK. It doesn't matter if you come from a broken home. It doesn't matter if you come from a so-called dysfunctional family. It matters if your parents are giving you the love, the attention, the concern that you require. I know countless, dozens of students that come from single-parent homes where they are the most outstanding people and have the most outstanding values, and I think that is what counts, and not the family situation. It is the people involved in the relationship.
Mr. ROGAN. When I was elected to Congress, a reporter asked my mother, how do you feel? You were on welfare and food stamps and a single mother.
She said, ''Well, I have two boys that are engineers; one daughter that is a nursing student; and one son elected to Congress. I guess somebody had to shame the family!''
Thank you very much for your testimony and your presence.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Rogan.
I have not asked any questions. Early in my life I learned that I don't learn anything when I am talking. I learn when I listen, and you guys were great. You really were. You gave us an insight that is hard for us as older people to share and to understand.
Page 260 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I will give you a little insight. I think anybody who has a great teacher is very lucky. That teacher can influence the direction in which your whole life can go. I was blessed with some good teachers when I was in high school. I went to college, and I had a history teacher who had a lovely way of teaching. He would say outrageous things about people and drive you to a reaction, and then he would see what you know about it.
He once insulted Abraham Lincoln. He said Lincoln was a terrible President, and I leaped to my feet, coming from Illinois like Brian does, and I said Dr. Tansil, Lincoln was one of our greatest Presidents; and I shortly learned a lesson.
He said, of course, you base your opinion on a careful reading of the eight-volume set by Nicolay and Hay.
I said, no.
He said, well, the four-volume set by Carl Sandburg?
I said, no.
He said, the one-volume condensation by Sandburg?
I said, no.
Well, you read Benjamin Thomas on Lincoln?
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He went through a bibliography for 5 minutes, and I had read nothing. I just had a feeling Lincoln was a great President, and that taught me a valuable lesson. Shut up unless you know what you are talking about, back it up with some authority and some data, and that was a wonderful lesson.
The other thing, Bob Woodsonand everybody is right. There is no simple answer to this. It is a problem of the soul. It is not a problem of the environment, although environment is important. It is not a problem of demographics. It is an inner vacancy or void. Nature hates a vacuum, and these kids have a spiritual vacuum. It is not being filled at home. It is not being filled in the church, if they go to church. I bet they don't. It is not being filled by their parents, and maybe it is not their fault, but there is an absence of any hope, any goals, any optimism, any future, and that is filled with cults and gangs and suicide, and so how do we deal with that.
It is hard to deal with in our society because we have separation of church and State, and there are organizations that go ballistic if the Federal Government assists them, and they have a faith-based approach to things, but that is what Mr. Woodson is using with great success. Those were three tough guys that he brought in here. Cabrini Green is a place you don't want to walk through. One headed the gang there, and they are all doing great.
There are answers, and we all have to keep looking for the answers and not give up.
Page 262 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All of you have great futures because you have great heads on your shoulders, and you have a sense of proportion and judgment, and I am sure that you have intuition. Your time here was well spent because you educated us, and we are all going to read your statements and the rest of the panel, and I hope you learned a little something about how Congress works, too. Thank you very much.
Mr. PICK. Thank you.
Ms. DANIELS. Thank you.
Ms. CELMER. Thank you.
Mr. HYDE. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:43 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]
(Footnote 1 return)
Presentation at Wisconsin Gang Crime Prevention Symposium, by James C. Howell, March 15, 1999.