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Effects of Video Violence on Young Offenders

NCJ Number
K Browne; A Pennell
Date Published
4 pages
Groups of juvenile offenders and nonoffenders were shown a violent video film to determine their immediate reactions as well as impressions and memories of the film at a later time.
A total of 122 males aged 15-21 participated in the research. There were three groups: 54 violent offenders who had been convicted at least once of an offense against a person, 28 nonviolent offenders, and a control sample of 40 school/college students without an offense record. Participants were queried about their reactions to a violent video film immediately after its showing, 4 months later, and again after 10 months. More differences were found between offenders and nonoffenders than between violent offenders and nonviolent offenders in terms of film viewing preferences and reactions to violent films. Offenders spent longer watching video films than nonoffenders, and violent offenders were more likely than nonviolent offenders to prefer violent films. Ten months after viewing the violent video, twice as many offenders as nonoffenders recalled and identified with vindictively violent characters. Offenders had a lower level of moral development than nonoffenders; were less able to appreciate the viewpoints of, or empathize with, others; and were more likely to have aggressive temperaments and distorted perceptions about violence. The findings suggest that individuals from violent families are more prone to offending behavior and having a preference for violent films, but this may be modified by personality and moral values. 3 figures, 1 table, and 2 references