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Resolution On Youth And Violence In The Media

WHEREAS, We live in a despair-soaked culture fixated on death replete with horrifically realistic and vicious computer games, new music genres such as death metal and shock rock, and Internet web sites with malignant content offering the means for the acting out of hote-filled behavior and destruction; and

WHEREAS, The typical American child watches 28 hours of television a week, and by the age of 18, will have seen portrayed 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence; and

WHEREAS, The advent of video-cassette sales and rentals, pay-per-view TV, cable TV, video games, and online interactive media provides young people greater acess to media with violent content than ever before; and

WHEREAS, It recently has been reported that exposure to television violence is strongly correlated with aggressive behavior, creates a desensitization to anti-social behavior, and fosters a climate of unhealthy fear; and

WHEREAS, The majority of all entertainment programming contains violence and the perpetrators of violence go unpunished in 73% of these violent scenes; and

WHEREAS, Research studies prove the harmful influence of violence and sex in the media o young people at susceptible stages of cognitive development, and that violence in video games, television, and films increases the incidence of violent, aggressive behavior in society, particularly among children, teenagers, and young adults; and

WHEREAS, A steady diet of media-borne violence over time teaches young people that violence is society’s accepted means to handle conflict, and alters a developing brain’s anatomy and chemistry in ways that inhibit learning, concentration, attachment, and empathy, changes which can predispose children to impulsive violence later in life; and

WHEREAS, We have seen the impact of unchecked violence in the media contribute to tragedies both in public school shootings and the rampant violence in America’s inner cities; and

WHEREAS, Fifty-five percent of those arrested for murder are under the age of 25, fifty percent of murder victims are between 15 and 34 years old, and one-third of all the violent crimes reported in the U.S. are committed by individuals under the age of 21; and

WHEREAS, While we strive to protect our children from alcohol and other drugs, premarital sex, and other dangers, our children very often are allowed unfettered access to and consumption of degrading entertainment that devalues the preciousness of human life.

Be it therefore RESOLVED, that we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-16, 1999, encourage parents to communicate clear standards of biblical morality to their children, monitor the TV viewing, movie and video purchases and rentals, and seek to build within their families a strong faith, core values and an understanding of the Truth to protect them from the culture’s destructive and pernicious influences; and
Be it further RESOLVED, that we encourage all Christians to explore ways to identify and influence young people who are at risk and evidence anti-social behavior; and

Be it further RESOVLED, that we exercise discernment in our selections of entertainment, acknowledge our personal responsibility before the Lord to “change the channel” on violent and destructive entertainment, and in doing so serve as a positive role model in our own choices of entertainment, noting the wisdom of Psalm 101:3, that we should “set no worthless thing before [our] eyes;” and

Be it further RESOLVED, that we challenge our Southern Baptist children and youth to become media-wise, exercise discernment in their selections of entertainment in acknowledging that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33), base their viewing and listening habits on biblical values, utilize critical listening and viewing skills, refuse to play violent video games, and seek to be positive and uncompromising Christian witnesses to their peers; and

Be it further RESOLVED, that we express our outrage with an entertainment industry which promotes and glorifies violence, sexual promiscuity and other forms of immorality; and that we call upon the creators of movies, TV programs, musical recordings, and video games to accept responsibility for the often destructive impact of their products on young, vulnerable and impressionable minds; to exercise restraint in the depiction of violence, immoral sexual conduct, the use of offensive language and lyrics; and to produce movies, TV shows and other forms of entertainment which are morally wholesome and family-oriented; and

Be it further RESOLVED, that we extend our appreciation to those within the entertainment industry who produce wholesome entertainment that affirms godly standards of morality; and

Be it further RESOLVED, that we call upon owners and operators of movie theaters, music stores, and video retail and rental outlets to strictly enforce movie and music rating restrictions; and

Be it further RESOVELD, that we encourage the enactment of legislation to combat youth violence, the protect children and youth from violent crime in the public schools, to assist parents by making lyrics available for their review in music stores, and to restrict the availability of sexually explicit or violent material to the greatest possible extent; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, that we call upon Southern Baptists to take seriously the command of Christ to be salt and light in the world, to impact the culture for righteousness and to teach biblical principles to children and youth soa s to equip them to make God-honoring choices.