Media Release – American College of Pediatricians 6 February 2015
According to a review published by the American Psychological Association, the link between children’s exposure to violent media and violent behavior in real life “is stronger than the relationship between calcium intake and bone mass; stronger than the relationship between condom use and the risk of contracting HIV; and stronger than the exposure to second-hand smoke and the risk of lung cancer.”
With the increased production of video games, television programs and movies laden with all forms of violence, the American College of Pediatricians urges parents to be ever more vigilant and to teach their children to be discriminating about the media they view. A prime example is the soon to be released film Fifty Shades of Grey. The movie is based upon the novel by the same name which is the first in a best-selling trilogy. The novel portrays a relationship between a 28 year old mega-millionaire, Christian Grey, and a 22 year old college student and virgin, Anastasia Steele. Central to their relationship, however, is the normalization of dating violence, intimate partner violence (IPV) and the romanticizing of bondage, submission and sadomasochism (BDSM). Due to the well documented association between adolescents viewing violence and sexual behavior in the media and then engaging in those risky behaviorsB, it is imperative parents “immunize” their children and adolescents against the toxic messages in this series of novels and film.
Dr. Amy Bonomi and colleagues analyzed Fifty Shades of Grey the novel for episodes of IPV using criteria from the CDC and Smith’s conceptualization of perceived threat, managing, altered identity, yearning, entrapment and dis-empowerment experienced by abused women.C These researchers found evidence of emotional abuse in almost every encounter between the two main characters. Examples included stalking, intimidation and isolation. They found sexual violence to be “pervasive” starting with Christian’s use of alcohol to compromise Ana’s consent to engage in a sexual relationship. Furthermore, they documented that Ana demonstrates reactions experienced by abused women: constant perceived threat, an altered identity and stressful managing. They conclude that the character of Ana, with whom young women come to identify, “becomes dis-empowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.”