While pornography is often considered a plague on modern society, evidence is growing that repeated exposure to "slasher" and violent R-rated movies apparently can have similar anti-social effects.
After reviewing numerous studies, Daniel Linz of the University of California-Santa Barbara concludes that subjects exposed to violent films over any length of time show less sensitivity toward rape victims.Linz's findings are chilling, considering the kind of easy access to violent material this country allows its impressionable youth.
Utah is not immune. As Deseret News Staff Writer JoAnn Jacobsen-Wells noted in a story last week, law officers and treatment centers in the state are seeing more acceptance of violence by youngsters, including carrying guns to school.
There is a sense among many youngsters that violence is normal, rather than an abberation. It is a view taught by repetition - the constant exposure to violence in television shows and movies.
A study by the National Coalition on Television Violence points out that by the time an American is 18 years old, he or she can claim to have witnessed 32,000 murders as well as 40,000 attempted murders - on television. There are now an average of 12 acts of violence depicted on TV every hour, according to the study.
And those figures don't include the acts of violence contained in one single Rambo or Dirty Harry movie, movies that American youths flock to see and rent from the local video store.
Most children have more trouble than adults in separating entertainment from what is aceptable in the real world. And it is the troubled, problem-prone youngsters who are more likey to be affected by exposure to violent films.
There's certainly ample evidence that America has become a land of violence. Some researchers, such as Dane Archer, a University of California-Santa Cruz sociologist, call violence a nationwide epidemic. And with good cause.
The national homicide rate has nearly doubled since the early 1960s. Serious crimes - including homicide, rape, robbery and assault - have nearly quadrupled since 1960.
For these reasons, violent films should be included in every study of the effects of pornography. For these reasons, parents should redouble their efforts to moniter the television shows and videos their impressionable children watch.
These urgings are nothing new. Responsible groups have long called for an end to the glamorization of violence in the popular media - before violence robs us of the chance.