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The thesis of the paper is, “the media representation of violent crimes by African Americans.” It has indeed been proven that the media portrays a very negative image on violent crimes as perpetrated by black Americans and this to a large extent Â impacts on the law, regulations, and public perceptions on the violent crimes. For instance, a violent crime such as rape has been painted as a grim reality that all of us need to be aware. This has had the effect of even influencing the way law makers perceive rape. It has eventually led to stringent laws being developed to deal with the crime by the blacks. The most notable law in the US history was the one restricting the way in which the sex offender moves through the sex offenders restrictions Act. This paper will succinctly focus on the various media perceptions about the violent crimes and especially the way the media represents violent crimes thus influencing the public perception of the same.
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The result of the media representation of violent crime by black Americans has been more strict measures being taken that is aimed at curbing the propagation of such crime. Previously as noted, such crimes were often silent and thus the public did not know much about the violent crimes.
However, due to the media representation of such violent crimes, crimes such as assault, wife battery have now become more pronounced more than ever. It has therefore become clearly known that the violent crimes are treated with more weight as a result of increased knowledge by the public especially of the violent crimes (Lind, 2004). The media has often been faulted for propagating violence in many forms. The violence that is portrayed by the media actually encourages the vice to continue instead of helping to educate the public in order to avert future problems.
It was revealed that most of the news that sells in the media and attracts much attention is news pertaining to violent crimes by the black Americans. We would often turn the volume of our television or radio sets up in order to listen to some shoot out news in which a gangster or police officer was killed or more so to listen to testimonies by witnesses in a rape or robbery case.
The body of this paper shall consider the impacts of the media representation on violent crimes by the black Americans. Indeed, criminology theories are often contemporary theories and not standalone theories as perceived by most scholars (Croteau & Hoynes, 2000). The theories help to explain the rationale behind what most criminology researchers put forth. In this paper, we shall explain how the media representation of violent crimes impacts on the law and generally on the US regulations in light of the classical criminology theory. Several researchers have explored the media representation of various phenomena, with very few suggesting that the media rarely imparts positive impact on the law and public perceptions on violent crimes. Furthermore, it is imperative to note that the media indeed influences different aspects of the law by painting a stern picture of the violent crimes through emphasizing on the consequences of such crimes and the reality in terms of victims that are left after the perpetration of such violent crime. We shall first begin by looking at the positive impact that the media has on its representation of violent crimes to the society at large.
Firstly, it is important to note that most of the violent crimes go against the societal values and core beliefs. This has indeed made the media to point out the reality behind such violent crimes. It is often common to see the media emphasizing on the effects of such violent crimes such as rape. Sometimes, the media even uses real victims to succinctly convey the message. This has left several impacts as insinuated by several researchers.
A lot of research has been done to determine the spate of media influence on the violent crimes to the society. Critics suggest that the media has made the public’s perception about violent crimes by the black Americans to change. This has observably changed for the worse. Consequently, research has shown that violent crimes could be effectively be dealt with at a higher level by the law enforcement agencies. What is most important is the awareness by the general public. The media therefore plays a pertinent role in fostering this.
Maguire, Morgan and Reiner (2007) reveal that the picture painted by the media on violent crimes by black Americans such as rape has made the law makers to realize how serious the violent crime can affect the society. In particular, law makers have become more aware of the factors that actually lead to the propagation of violent crimes so that they may effectively pass laws that will ensure that the activities that lead to the violent crime or at least contribute to the violent crime are kept in check. For instance, rape in the media was portrayed as emanating from the activities of idle boys and the youth who apparently did not have anything to do. This in turn made the law makers to seek ways of preoccupying the youth in a more constructive manner. Therefore, the youth development projects were formed to take care of the needs of the youth. Apparently, the youth in California were found to be engaged in various activities (Greer, 2003). Some of these activities were not so constructive as such. Therefore, the law makers formulated laws that effectively ensured that the youth were well occupied. This therefore meant that the youth could be engaged in educational as well as community activities.
Consequently, the media representation of the violent crimes made it easier for the public to perceive violent crime as an emerging crime that was previously ‘hidden under the pillow.’ This therefore apparently enabled crimes such as assault and domestic violence to emerge and become topical issue in the media as well as in the public forum. The result of this therefore was that the public became more aware of the effects of violent crime, specifically, domestic violence and assault as well as rape. Thus, the media has been extremely successful in exposing such crimes to the public knowledge. The public has responded by being more vigil in terms of fighting the crime through community oriented initiatives. The media in conjunction with the police bring to the attention of the public certain crimes that they would have otherwise been ignorant of. The media continues to be ardent in exposing criminal activities and syndicates. The most recent syndicate to be exposed was that of track it which apparently fleeced unsuspecting citizen of millions of dollars. Apparently some of the renowned black Americans were connected to this syndicate which was accused of defrauding the public of their innocently earned money. This way, the media ensures that unscrupulous business entities are busted and their licenses ceased. Lind (2004) suggests that the spate of crime by the Black American is on the rise and if nothing is done to address the root cause, then it is likely that this could escalate beyond repair.
The society at large subsequently instigated steps that were meant to curb the growing trends in the violent crimes. The trends of such violent crimes can thus be monitored and steps taken by the law makers and the public to mitigate it. This has therefore had the positive effect of reducing the incidences of violent crime within the society setting. Stenson and Sullivan (2001) insinuate that the media alert on violent crime has helped the public to specifically improve their response to such crimes thus reducing the occurrences of such crimes. In particular, the public has become more receptive in helping the police to monitor such kinds of crime through the community oriented policing modules. In her book, Lind (2004) reveals that the media indeed portrays race as a contributory factor towards the violence as seen in most of the scenes of violence.
The black Americans are particularly faulted for being boisterous in terms of their propensity to propagate violent crimes. In the United States, nearly half of those individuals who are incarcerated are black Americans. This indicates a worrying trend that must be mitigated. The media also revealed that the state of Texas had been coarsely affected by the increase in the number of inmates who had been incarcerated by the federal government. The federal government on the other hand has the relevant statistics necessary to formulate the necessary measures aimed at averting the vice of violent crimes.
Media is the mouthpiece of the society. The society has come to believe the media in most of the aspects pertaining to the society in general. Therefore, it is the onus of the media to ensure that they consistently inform the public of the various happening and to subsequently effectively warn the public of a growing trend. The public is therefore receptive of such happenings that will affect its perceptions as propagated by the media. More often, the media simply
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According to Davies, Francis and Greer (2007), crime occurs where the benefits outweigh the costs. This is the definition of the classical theory of criminology. The classical theory of criminology therefore goes ahead to state that when people are after self interest, with the lack of presence of punishment that is tangible or even intangible, crime occurs. Therefore what this means is that the violent crime occurs as a result of lack of knowledge by the general public. This also means that the media serves as an important vessel in mitigating crime by the blacks through effectively monitoring crime prevalence. Media has been very successful due to its ability to reach multitudes of people at the same time thus ensuring that information is conveyed to masses. The law makers also serve to formulate laws that ensure violent crime by black Americans is kept in check (Miller, 2003). This could not be possible without the contribution of the media in highlighting the areas of violent crime that the law makers need to focus on. Moreover, this will have a ripple effect in ensuring that the violent crime does not continue and is effectively put under check.
The classical theory also states that crime, and violent crime for that matter is a free will and upon an individual’s choice. The people who propagate crime are therefore people of sane mind, body and spirit. Therefore, what this means is that violent crime by the black Americans has indeed been a matter of choice. According to Muncie and Wilson (2004) issues regarding choice can only be eliminated through publicity and increasing awareness. This as earlier mentioned can best be done by the media. The media has for ages painted a grim picture of violent crime and been against it in totality. This has therefore meant that the violent crime incidences have been shunned by the society in general and thus led to a decline in cases involving violent crime.
On the other hand, the media has negative impact in terms of the image that it paints in relation to the violent crime on the society as well as the impacts that it has had on the laws and regulations. Greer (2003) notes that the media has overblown the issue of violent crime beyond proportion thus making it difficult for the determination of the true magnitude of the violent crime and the extent to which it should be shunned
The consequences of this have been thorough in terms of influencing the way law makers perceive violent crime. It is also true according to the classical theory of criminology that the violent crime by black Americans is the brain child of a society that lacks direction. This is indeed a wakeup call for the law makers and the relevant administrators to take up the challenge and rise up to the occasion as pertains to ensuring that the perpetrators of violent crime are dealt with.
Maguire, Morgan and Reiner (2007) concur by suggesting further that the law makers have accorded strict punishment to some of the violent crimes such as assault thus putting the perpetrators who may have acted under self defense to thorough capital punishment. Similarly, the law makers have been very mean in terms of passing amendments meant to reduce the punishment accorded to the perpetrators. Critics suggest that the best form of punishment that would be suitable for the perpetrators of violent crimes would be serving several years behind bars and then community service for a couple of years (Davies, Francis & Greer, 2007). The media representation of violent crime by blacks Americans has therefore left very stern action taken by the law makers.
Furthermore, the public at large have been left with a very bad perception. Greer (2003) suggests that the public now view most of the violent crimes by the black Americans as gross. This has made the public to take very stern action while dealing with the perpetrators of such violent crime such as rape. The public has therefore become autonomous in terms of judging a person suspected to have perpetrated the violent crime and subsequently played the part of the court or judicial system. This has made the public to take law into their own hands and set ablaze or even brutally killed the perpetrators.
The classical theory of criminology further supports the fact that violent crime is caused by an individual’s volition. This volition should be turned for the good of the individual through encouraging good behavior within the community and thus effectively rehabilitating a violent crime’s perpetrator. Stenson and Sullivan (2001) suggest that the media has effectively denied the perpetrators of violent crime the chance to change and be part of the society. This theory further supports a no-crime environment through solving crime from its roots. Therefore, the law enforcement agencies will have a very smooth ride due to the implementation of these theories.
The other important negative impact of the media representation of violent crime by the black Americans has been that individual especially the teenagers who are apparently below the age of majority have been exposed to violence at a tender age. The media has therefore succeeded in changing the perception of such age groups of violent crimes since they view this as a normal happening and therefore they grow up knowing that violent crime by the black Americans is part of the society. Muncie and Wilson (2004) suggests that it is usually very difficult to change such perception. In fact, the teenager’s perception of violent crimes by the black Americans is so grim such that some of them even aspire to perform the same acts that the media condemns. Too much exposure to violent scenes is not good for the development of the teenagers.
Recently, there has been a huge outcry on how the media portrays violent crimes by the black Americans without discretion to the populace. It is important to note that the populace consists of diverse ages. It is ethically wrong at least according to Greer (2003) from the media to show violent crimes to the youth. It can therefore be concluded that the classical theory is indeed the most effective in explaining the media representation of violent crime by the black Americans and advancing the ways that we can deal with such perception and representation to develop more positive laws and regulation as pertains to curbing the incidences of violent crimes.
Therefore, the media has been more beneficial more than detrimental to the general public through the various sensitization programs that it advocates for in totality. Crime rates by the black Americans have been effectively reduced due to the proactive nature of the media towards informing the public and the police together with other law enforcement agencies of the impending violent crimes and their consequences.
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