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Study Links Real, Media Violence

There is a conclusive link between media violence and real world violence in young people, a new study claims. 

That is the conclusion of Rutgers University research funded by the Centers for Disease Control as part of a study of media violence underway since 2004.

According to the University, in a paper to be published in February, researcher Paul Boxer asserts that media depictions of violence are a "critical risk factor" for aggression in adolescents. 

According to Boxer, the study found that link even when other risk factors for violent behavior—such as exposure to violence at school or in the community—were present. "Even in conjunction with other factors, our research shows that media violence does enhance violent behavior," Boxer asserts in a release promoting the findings, adding: "On average, adolescents who were not exposed to violent media are not as prone to violent behavior."

The report, the first produced under this particular CDC grant, was based on interviews with 820 adolescents from Michigan, 430 high school students and 390 young people held in county or state facilities. Parents and guardians were also interviewed.

The kids were interviewed about their TV-watching habits, movies and video game preferences as well as whether they had engaged in behaviors like throwing rocks or using weapons.

The conclusion was that "even for those lowest in other risk factors, a preference for violent media was predictive of violent behavior and general aggression."

Also participating in the study was a pair of University o f Michigan professors.

The report comes as Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) prepares to take over as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC and media matters.

Rockefeller has been a vocal critic of media violence and a big proponent of allowing the FCC to regulate it, including trying to get Congress to legislate that power. (See related story.)