Opinion: Let’s stop normalizing violence


Jean Holman

I am no longer stunned by violence in the media regarding recent events. It is normal to see hate in the news, TV shows and films. This is unacceptable because society should never accept violence and hate. Studies show that violence in media, such as the news, movies and video games, promotes aggression in viewers.

In one study, psychology professors studied participants’ reactions and behavior to news broadcasts and video games as well as their likelihood to cheat on tests. The study stated “…positive social news increased cooperation but had no effect on cheating behaviors, whereas negative social news generated a significant influence on cheating behavior but had no obvious effect on cooperation.” In other words, seeing dishonesty in the news influenced people to mimic corrupting behavior. Repetition of watching negative news videos can increase cheating behavior in viewers.


Another article analyzing multiple studies on how violence in mass media impacts children proved that viewing violence in mass media can influence children to express aggression verbally and physically. Viewing this violence consistently can lead to long-term aggression throughout young adult life. The study also explained that “96% of all violent programs use aggression as a cinematographic tool for the sole purpose of entertaining viewers.”

Movies, TV shows and video games can be depictions of real events. The audience may feel empathy for characters living in violent situations, but seeing this in person can be traumatizing. However, it no longer fazes us. A 2018 survey revealed that “six in ten Americans said there was more crime in the U.S.compared with the year before” even though crime was in fact decreasing. People expect there to be a lot of crime these days because we see so much of it in mass media. Most people I talk to are not surprised by a news story of police brutality towards people of color. This violence no longer shocks us because mass media normalizes hate. This can be seen in video games like Grand Theft Auto III with the user playing a character who sometimes has to kill innocent civilians, police officers and prostitutes to accomplish a job.  

Normalization of violence makes it seem like violence solves problems. For example, a high school boy in one fight said he fought another classmate because they bullied him. This is the problem; we should not automatically go to fighting to resolve an issue.

 Innocent people dying is not okay and is not a topic we should ignore. We need to do what we can to prevent acts of hate from happening again and again.

One way we can stop normalizing violence is to hold peaceful protests. There are widespread nonviolent protests occurring across the globe. However, some turn violent, such as when police used teargas and pepper spray without telling the crowd that they will use force. For other situations, peaceful protests can result in no one being harmed. App State faced one of their own peaceful marches Aug. 31. Police officers warned students to leave an administration building or else they would receive a class two misdemeanor for trespassing.

Protest peacefully to stop violence. The tragic events we see in the news should make us feel sad, not numb. Stop normalizing violence. We need to educate people that violence in mass media should not be portrayed as a celebration. Violence should not be a heroic trait of a movie character or sexualized.