The Coalition piloted a violence prevention initiative for at-risk children and families that uses entertainment videotapes showing positive behaviors. With the help of Dr. Victor LaCerva, selection criterion common in any successful violence prevention program were applied to the title selection. They include:

  • Increased ability to name, identify and express the basic emotions: mad, glad, sad and afraid.
  • Recognition that all feelings are okay, though all behaviors are not.Increased ability to resolve conflict in nonviolent ways.
  • Appropriate use of time-out: not for punishment but for feeling better.
  • Reduced aggressive play.Reduced or no physical punishment
  • Increased use of praise for desired behavior
  • Decreased use of abusive language, humiliation or withdrawal of food or other basic needs.
  • Improved strategies for dealing with aggressive behavior
  • Increase in number of times a child is offered a choice.
  • Increased emphasis in teaching values.
  • Increase in positive physical touching.Increase in positive coping behaviors for caregiver stress.
  • Increase in supports available to family, friends, neighbors.


Coalition for Quality Children's Media Executive Summary

The Coalition for Quality Children's Media's KIDS FIRST!®initiative rates children's videotapes using a national community-based jury of adults, professionals and children. It endorses programs meeting clearly defined criteria developed by child development professionals and juries of children. Its Videotherapy Program has supplied libraries of endorsed videos to clinics of the Women, Infants and Children's (WIC) Program, administered by the New Mexico State Department of Health, throughout New Mexico for several years. 57 Clinics now participate in the project, showing the videotapes in their waiting rooms while the mothers and children wait for their monthly appointments. Approximately 45,000 women, infants and children throughout New Mexico are served by this project every month.

In 1996, more than 3,000 videotapes valued at $49,000 were added to the existing collections at these sites. These tapes were donated, in whole or in part by the media suppliers (see list below), without whose help this project could not have been implemented.

Reports from the staffs of the WIC clinics have been uniformly positive in describing client reactions to the tapes. WIC staff has reported quieter waiting rooms, interest in the tapes, questions about their children inspired by the videos, and positive models of child rearing presented to the young mothers who are WIC clients. Of particular interest are comments from parents which indicated that they had learned new nonviolent ways of disciplining their children.

In 1996, 3 new WIC sites in Albuquerque joined the other cities and counties participating in the Videotherapy Program. Funding from New Mexico Department of Education and General Mills Foundation allowed a study to examine this use of video as a tool for violence prevention, to assess the effects of the video exposure on child rearing attitudes, and on the use of the media by parents. Three WIC sites were selected for the study.

High Intervention Site: Video presentations were preceded by and followed by discussion, facilitated by a children's media professional. Participants also checked out tapes to watch at home.

Standard Site: The same videos were shown in the waiting room with no discussion.

Control Site: No videos were shown during the study period.

A media survey was administered to all 3 groups at the beginning and at the end of the program period. The greatest change in viewing habits occurred in the High Intervention group. Initially 90 percent reported watching television between 1 and 3 hours each day; that percentage dropped to half that by the end of the period. At the beginning, among the High Intervention subjects, only 12 percent watched less than an hour of television a day. That increased to 40 percent at the post test.

In January, none of the participants had selection criteria for their television viewing. In May, 40 percent of the responses had set conditions attached to their estimates: conditions relating to the appropriateness and quality of the television programs.

Parents were asked how many hours per day they believed that children should be allowed to watch television. The mean dropped from 4 hours at pretest to 2.7 hours at post test among those who did not mention any conditions, and to 2 hours among those who set conditions. Parents who initially found 3 to 4 hours a day acceptable limits reduced those limits almost in half.

When asked how often they rented video tapes, at pretest 80 percent of the High Intervention group reported renting less than 2 or 3 a month; at post test that percentage dropped to 55 percent, suggesting an increase in video rentals. Considering that this group sharply cut their television viewing, it appears that they have substituted tapes for at least part of that time.

The television image, however it is delivered, is the most powerful communication medium, and agent of socialization in contemporary America. Like any tool, it can be used for positive gains or as a destructive force in family life. Children born to families in economic stress are at risk of both receiving and using violence as a means of interpersonal problem solving. Often the young mothers are victims of physical abuse and know no other way to discipline or socialize their children. A video designed as entertainment that presents positive images of parenting and models of problem solving are nonthreatening and easy to use. By introducing these tapes to mothers and their children in a facilitated discussion session with a knowledgeable leader, we appear to have made a significant difference. In a relatively short period of time, the clients dramatically changed their television viewing patterns: reducing the time spent watching TV, becoming more selective, and using videotapes more often.


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