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Study: Kid skeins violent

3,488 instances of general violence found in kiddie programs

Kids get smacked with more violent content in children’s programming than adults do in all of primetime, according to a new Parents Television Council report.

“Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children’s Television,” PTC’s first study of kidvid, reviewed nearly 445 hours of after-school and Sunday morning programming over a three-week period last summer. Study found 3,488 instances of general violence, which works out to about 7.86 per hour.

That includes cartoonish violence, like anvils falling on the head of Wile E. Coyote. But even minus anvils, violence occurs 6.3 times per hour, according to the study.

A 2002 PTC study of violence in adult-oriented primetime shows tallied 4.71 instances per hour.

New report, released Thursday, also documented 275 incidents of sexual content in kids programming for an average of 0.62 per hour, and 250 incidents of offensive language for an average of 0.56 per hour.

Under the microscope were eight nets, four broadcast and four cable: ABC, Fox, NBC, WB, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Study fingered Cartoon Network and ABC Family as main offenders: Former totaled the most violent incidents over the period, while latter “packed the most punch per program, with 318 instances of violence” for an average of 10.96 per episode, according to the study.

“Parents often take it for granted that children’s programs are, by definition, child-friendly,” PTC topper L. Brent Bozell said in a statement. “While a lot of entertainment programming for children is perfectly wholesome, parents nevertheless have to worry about the part of it that isn’t appropriate.

“This disturbing trend signifies that parents can no longer be confident that their children will not have access to dark violence, sexual innuendo or offensive language on entertainment programming targeted toward children,” Bozell added.

Prompted by the findings on sexual content, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) said study should be impetus to narrow anti-indecency legislation that has stalled in the Senate. The legislation, already passed by the House, should focus only on raising fines, Brownback said.

Study attempted to distinguish between several forms of violence by consulting literature from the American Psychological Assn. and the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as codes of conduct from various public and private elementary schools.

Cartoon Network responded: “While it’s difficult to comment on a report that we have not yet had the opportunity to thoroughly review, we are confident that our standards and practices policies ensure that the programming on our air is age-appropriate. All of our shows undergo several reviews throughout the production process to make sure that they are suitable for their intended viewers.”

ABC Family declined to comment, but Jim Dyke, exec director of industry-backed advocacy group TV Watch, said in a statement that PTC “has a history of making sensational claims in order to push government control of content. Parents relying on ubiquitous and user-friendly technology, ratings information and their own good judgment to manage TV is the best approach, not increased government control, regardless of whether the program is Yosemite Sam, the Road Runner or a scene from a show clearly intended for adults.”

Study was released almost simultaneously with an announcement from TiVo, saying it would be offering “KidZone,” a new programming service that will deliver children’s programming based on recommendations from PTC and Common Sense Media, another kids’ advocacy group. Service also will allow parents to block unwanted programming.