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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Just blowing off steam: Representations of bullying in child-oriented television programming

Susan M. Connor, PhD, Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University, 11100 Euclid Ave., HPV B55, Cleveland, OH 44106-6039, 216-844-7354, susan.connor@cwru.edu and Kathryn L. Wesolowski, BS, Injury Prevention Center, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, 11100 Euclid Ave., HPV B55, Cleveland, OH 44106-6039.

Introduction: Bullying in schools has become an increasing public health problem and a growing focus of public and news media concern. While studies have posited an association between levels of television viewing and bullying behaviors, the nature of the association is unclear. A first step in understanding the relationship is to quantify the depictions of bullying that appear in programming aimed at young audiences. Methods: Forty-four hours of after-school weekday programming were recorded during the spring of 2003 and fall of 2004 on the four most-watched networks for children ages 6 to 11. Coders recorded each act of verbal (name calling) and intentional physical violence, the initiator and recipient of each act, and the televised and probable real-world consequence of physical violence. Results: In 88 half-hour segments of children's programming viewed, interactions between children accounted for 73% (88/153) of all instances of verbal violence and 31% (164/532) of all physical violence portrayed. In more than 90% of cases, victims of physical violence showed no reaction or only a mild verbal response (ouch); victim reactions to verbal violence were even rarer. Conclusion: Verbal violence in child-oriented programming was overwhelmingly aimed at children by other children. Approximately 1 in 3 episodes of physical violence portrayed was aimed at children by other children. Peer bullying behavior was common even on networks like Disney and Nickelodeon, which are regarded for their prosocial programming. Verbal and physical violence perpetrated on children by children was portrayed as harmless or entertaining.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Media, Youth Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Injury and Violence Prevention Policy Development and Policy Implementation

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA