2007 - Most Philosophical 7th Grader in America:

Nick Brant, Minnesota.

      Some say compassion has an impact on society as strong as a comet plummeting into earth, if true then consider violence an entire asteroid. Violence has become a cornerstone of everyday life, and has entered every aspect of our lives. Even the simple act of saying hello nowadays means punching your friend in the arm.
      Where does this explosion and acceptance of violence originate from? I believe a key element of it comes from within our living rooms; it comes from within this terrible box where violence seems to ooze from every one or its corners. If you think this is Pandora's Box then you're wrong, no, no, this is much simpler…it is our televisions.
      You don't have to believe me, you can believe the numbers. Such as 44.5 the average number of hours per week children age 8 to 18 watch television. How about, 200,000 the acts of violence, and 40,000 the number of murders, a child will see on television by their 18th birthday. Or, 1,000 the number of studies that have been done since the 1950's, which document the effects of violence in television and movies. Most of those studies concluded that children watch a lot of television show aggressive behavior, attitudes and values.
Shows like Sopranos and C.S.I allow kids to witness gruesome, grisly, and horrid acts of violence just by picking up the remote. They are regular staples on our television.
      It's not only television shows; it is also the explosion of video games which entice kids to become active participants in violence. Games like Grand Theft Auto put players in the role of a serial killer where they can kill whomever they choose. This both teaches violence and empowers players to commit violent acts.
      Violence flows from television sets into our daily lives. A one day sample of headlines from the MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE highlight the violent messages in our society: "Two men charged with murder in cabdriver's death," "Sjodin's killer headed to death row", "Police seek man who robbed Crystal Bank", "Woman guilty of using teens as sex slaves", "Teen suspect held in northeast Minneapolis rape."
      It is doubtful that Vladimir Zworykin, father of the modern television, saw himself as a present day Pandora; however, the similarities are remarkable. Greek Mythology says out of curiosity Pandora opened the lid of a box Zeus had given her, and out flew hate, anger, sickness, poverty, and every bad thing in the world. By the time she closed the lid only hopelessness remained in the box. Think of the television set at today's Pandora's Box, and the violence showcased on television as all the evils of the world. The question remains, are we doomed to always live with violence because we chose to turn on the box and invite it into our living rooms, bedrooms and lives? Do we have the power and courage to turn the box off? And if we do, what remains of the violence we've already released into society?

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