role of media in effecting the human perception regarding Juvenile Delinquency. The Works Cited five sources in MLA format.
Media affects our view of the world and the issues therein. This is because, "media messages are cultural products that communicate norms and standards" (Descartes & Kottak) As Dow views, "television programming (is) public discourse that carries important meanings for its viewers, meanings that cannot be separated from their links to the larger context in which television is created and received" (Descartes & Kottak).
When extended to other forms of media, the above observation remains valid. Sequentially, the media in its own way has addressed issues pertaining to both work-family and the changing roles of parents thereby leaving a strong impact on its consumers, bringing about a change in their perceptions of various issues accordingly.
Therefore, it can be safely culminated that "the media both reflect and help shape our concerns and worldviews. The process is not a one-way imposition of media imagery and ideology on malleable spectators...viewers interpret what they see in the light of their own preconceptions and also to reinforce such notions.
It is in this sense that television influences certain (adult) beliefs" (Descartes & Kottak). This is apparent from the media portrayal of children more receptive to behavioral problems whose parents work in Law and Order, one of the best ten American dramas. Nonetheless, a far important example is of 60 Minutes, production of a news program featuring true stories wherein one of the episodes revolved around the popular delinquent case of Nathaniel Abraham that received much media attention and in turn public as well as political and legal recognition. This program initially discussed the nature of the crime.
Then gradually delved into the reasons why Nathaniel Abraham committed the murder. However, the non-fiction work of media clearly implied to its' consumers that "Nathaniel's father had left the family when the boy was small and that Nathaniel had been raised by a mother who worked the night shift, leaving him home in the care of his older siblings" (Descartes & Kottak).
This research paper will discuss the role of media in the comprehension of the public regarding the juvenile delinquency cases in the light of Nathaniel Abraham case. The central question however remains that how does the media effect our view of Juvenile Delinquency?
The news media has the ability as well as the authority to show any juvenile as innocent or guilty thereby playing a vital role in effecting the court's decision and the public's attitude towards it. However, in the case of Nathaniel Abraham, an eleven-year-old child who was tested by the Michigan State court in the first-degree murder, the role played by the mediator and the catalyst, the media remained quite positive throughout thereby generating an upbeat decision from the legal authorities. "Nate" remained in prison from October 1997 until his lawyer finally arranged a trial and the court ordered to place him under rehabilitation care at the Juvenile Justice System until the age of 21 on January 13, 2000 (Nichols). Nathaniel Abraham had his case in Pontiac, Michigan where in the courts, the prosecutor accused him of murdering an 18-year-old Ronnie Green with adequate planning and a dormant motive "from a 22-caliber rifle" (Nichols). Abraham was charged for the first-degree murder when "the earlier ruling by Judge Eugene Moore of the Oakland Family Court followed evaluations by two psychologists who stated the 12-year-old had the learning and emotional abilities of a 6- to 8-year-old child" (Nichols).
Almost all the cases tested and tried in the courts involve various tactical maneuvers, at times by the media, often by the lawyers. Nathaniel Abraham's case was no exception. The politicians used this case to create hysteria among the public regarding these delinquent cases through wrongful information emanated through media channels. Whereas the lawyers misused the "facts about how and what the defendant did before the killing, his planning, his motive, facts about how the killing was done" in order to lead the jury into false thinking and compelling them to believe that the innocent mind had the ability to plan and deliberately commit the murder of an adult in the first-degree with a motive behind the accidental killing. In actuality, as William Lansat remarked in an interview, "when you think of premeditation and deliberation, the defendant knows the victim, stalks the victim, plans the crime. That is not what happened" in the case of Nathaniel Abraham (Nichols).
Since the absurdity of believing that an 11-year-old can possibly plan a murder is obvious, the prosecutor again misused the so-called statement of confession wherein the defendant "states plainly that he was shooting at trees, not at people" (Nichols). Hence, from the above discussion, we may safely culminate that in the judicial process, the "truth" is not always a legal discovery. It can be a social creation of the media and/or the legal process. Media reports that have been heavily researched and come from highly reliable sources demonstrate the contradictory worldviews and perceptions of the public as well as of the researchers. Thus displaying the ever-so-strong and popular as well as highly significant role of the media in shaping the thinking and attitudes of the people towards grave issues particularly concerning Juvenile Delinquency and the related cases. It is certainly the media that is responsible for generating both ecstasy and fear among its receivers regarding such issues. Consequently it plays both a negative and a positive role in presenting valuable information to the public.
From an online article, the media reveals the harsh realities about the shameless role of the contemporary politicians that misuse the power of the media world for their vested interests thereby keeping the public unaware of the facts. As Drizin says: "Politicians orchestrate fear to a point where people remain convinced that crime has reached an endemic level, even if the facts show otherwise, penal policy is decided more by the fears of the public than by any rational analysis of statistics" (Kauffmann, p. 7). Thus this proves not only the defects in the regulatory and governmental policies but also reveals the role of the media and the politics in our comprehension regarding Juvenile Delinquency. As Howard Snyder, director of research at the National Centre for Juvenile Justice, says: "Americans today have a completely false perception of the crime rate. Professionals in the legal system who deal with juveniles know that all this new legislation is too tough, but there's always some spectacular case of a youngster committing a murder or a massacre which causes a fresh upsurge of fear among the public." (Kaufmann, p.7)
Facts that Drizin seems to indicate show that "the juvenile crime rate stopped going up in 1993, then started going down," says Steven Drizin, a professor at Chicago's Northwestern University. The latest official statistics show a sharp drop in violent youth crime in 1995-96, whereas before that it had been rising steadily since 1987.
Some experts believe that the 44% drop in murders committed by young people since 1993 has been because of the improvement in the economy and federal legislation in 1995 making it more difficult for them to get hold of firearms" (Kaufmann, p. 7).
The judicial process seems to be fairly confused regarding the delinquent cases as is obvious from the court trials of Nathaniel Abraham. Moreover, through the efforts of media, the public today is aware of the fact that the legal system also appears to be biased as is evident from the attorney of the youngest of all juveniles ever to be tested and placed into trial when he told his interviewer the following:
Lansat: The legislature is constantly seeking restrictions on youth, but when they want to impose criminal prosecutions they see no contradiction. From everything that has been admitted into evidence, it's mind-boggling that we had to argue before a court of law to tell the court and the prosecutor that this is not an adult" (Nichols). However, the court's decision to assure Abraham's protection under the supervision of the Juvenile Justice System proves the role of media that is fully capable of putting sufficient pressure on the legal authorities. Stressing on the significance of the media, one of the crime experts Franklin Zimring of the University of California at Berkeley reported the media on the "lack of support for Prop. 21" which, demonstrated "that voters are having second thoughts about the lock 'em up approach to crime when applied to kids" in the following words: "If it gets enough media attention, this could be the first beatable get-tough" proposition...The people who usually sit on the sidelines in these kinds of get-tough campaigns" -- including teachers unions, the PTA and the League of Women Voters -- have come out publicly against the initiative" (Morgan).
In conclusion, when media makes priceless reports available to the public with comments coming from the runners of the legal system such as Judge Eugene Arthur Moore's comments in the matter of petition pertaining…