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Report: Dramatic Rise in TV Violence against Teen Girls

December 7, 2009

BOSTON - It's enough to make any Massachusetts parent squirm with discomfort - and then change the channel. A new study analyzing five years of prime-time television finds that story lines depicting violence against women are on the increase, and that violence on the small screen is more graphic than ever before in the history of television.

The Parents Television Council reviewed more than 200 hours of programming, from 2004 to 2009, according to its president, Tim Winter.

"While the amount of violence on prime-time broadcast TV has remained relatively unchanged over the past five years, the prevalence of story lines that include violence against women has increased at an alarming rate, a 120 percent increase."

Winter says there is a disturbing new trend in depicting violence against women as funny, and even inconsequential. He says that can lead television viewers, particularly children, to believe such behavior is normal and acceptable.

Winter says studies show that children's aggressive behavior increases after watching violent actions on television.

"We're seeing increases of violent scenes against teen girls, intimate-partner violence, and female victimization as a punchline for comedic purposes."

As an example, Winter cites the animated Fox program "The Family Guy," which airs during prime time on Sundays. In response, the producers of the show assert that it is meant to be a humorous parody intended for adult audiences.

The report, "Women in Peril," can be found at www.parentstv.org More information regarding violence against women can be found at www.janedoe.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA