Violence in the Classroom

Posted on 12/23/2013 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

A study completed by Wingood and DiClemente assessed the exposure to music with violent lyrics, gratuitous sexual content, use of drugs, and the use of hate speech on health risk behaviors of adolescent females. Over 500 adolescents participated in this study. Exposure to rap music was assessed after six months and again after 12 months.

The authors found that at the 12-month follow up, those subjects with greater exposure to rap music were three times more likely to have hit a teacher; more than two-and-a-half times more likely to have been arrested; twice as likely to have had multiple sexual partners, and more than one-and-a-half times greater to have contracted a new sexual disease than those subjects with lower exposure to rap.

Dr.Dorothy Espelage, an educational psychology professor, recently headed a national task force on classroom violence directed at teachers. The group found that little has been done to try to understand or prevent such incidents despite the potential implications on teacher retention and student performance, among other things.

The recent death of teacher Colleen Ritzer by one of her students brings the issue to the front burner. Ms Ritzer was brutally murdered and assaulted, removed from school in a recycling container, and her body staged in the woods nearby. The fourteen-year-old student was captured days later and no motive is yet apparent.

This is not a random or unique experience. A 2011 survey found that 80 percent of teachers reported being intimidated, harassed, assaulted or otherwise victimized at least once during the previous year.

At the Town Hall Foundation we look for cause and effect. The study in the first paragraph is specific and clear. If you listen to music with inappropriate lyrics, the effect can be violence toward teachers. Why should we be surprised that violence in the classroom is increasing. There are plenty of bad lyrics and lots of technology available to brainwash our children.

We can let this go or stand up and do something about it. Please support the THF as we continue to identify music artists whose lyrics harm our children.

That’s the message for today, more coming.

Country Music Association Awards

Posted on 12/16/2013 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

Country music fans and artists met in Nashville on November 6 of 2013 to celebrate the industry and announce the winners of the CMA awards. The hosts for the show were Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. The showroom was sold out and various artists performed their new songs as is the fashion.

What was unique this year was not only that they saluted their top performers but they called out another music artist for his irresponsible behavior.

Hosts Carrie Underwood and Paisley got the show going with a parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" with members of "Duck Dynasty."

Blurred lines did not pass the THF review criteria and the CMA did not let that go unnoticed. When a music genre, Country, gets together to celebrate the best among them, it is rare-to-never that parodies of other performers' works are used.

Robin Thicke used references to drugs in the song Blurred Lines and used inappropriate references to gratuitous sexual activity. By contrast, the Country genre sings about women, whiskey, trucks, old dogs, lost loves and makes sure you can hear the lyrics clearly.

Oh, and the Country genre is the most profitable genre in music...I wonder why?

That’s the message for today, more coming.

Knockout Game

Posted on 12/09/2013 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

There’s a new game in town called the Knockout Game. The rules are simple. Four to ten youths travel as a pack, one is selected to be the player, one separates himself from the pack to video the game, and then the player selects a random target. He approaches the target in a stealth fashion and gets one punch to the head in an attempt to “KNOCK OUT” the chosen victim.

If he succeeds he is a winner. If the blow just knocks the victim down or just shocks the victim, he is a loser. I am using the male form of the gender pronoun, because girls can only be photographers.

This game has caused multiple injuries and more than one death. Many of the children (the age is generally from 12-18) have been caught and interrogated by the police. From their comments, it becomes clear that this game is peer group induced.

If you query the parents, educators, religious leaders or social organization leaders, you will not find an answer as to why these youths play the game. CNN reported that the families of the youths arrested and later convicted of the crime after posting it on Facebook were good boys who were just playing a “prank that got out of hand.”

Therefore, we must look deeper into the motivation for participation.

It may be possible or even likely that some or all of the youths listen to music lyrics that encourage violence against one or another. It could also be possible that video games such as “Grand Theft Auto” spark the interest in the game. Following those points, it could be that leaders of the pack organize the game for the thrill of the attack or even to kill.

In August in Lansing, several youths tried to play the Knockout Game with a twist: They used a taser. It misfired. The victim’s gun did not. He wounded his attacker but stopped firing after the Knockout Artist begged for mercy.

At the University of Illinois in Champaign, the game has a different name: Polar Bear Hunting. But with dozens of examples, including a local TV reporter, the youth play by the same rules: Find a defenseless person and punch them in the face until they are knocked out. Or dead.

In St. Cloud, Minn., a car full of youths came upon a college student in an alley walking two girls home from the library. The car screeched to a stop, one man got out and hit 20-year old Colton Gleason in the face. He died.

Chuck Williams, a professor of psychology and education at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said some young people are desperate for attention. He called it the "Miley Cyrus effect," where teens will do anything to get noticed, no matter how heinous or unconscionable.

"These kids know the consequences," he said. "They want to get arrested. They want to get caught because they want that notoriety. They know they won't go away forever because they're kids. It's a win-win all around for them."

To summarize, the Knockout Game is real. It is violent. The best we can surmise is that the role models in the music industry, such as Miley Cyrus, lead others to want to stand out. And our youth think they are impervious to penalties due to their age.

We need to stop the violence and stop music artists from selling the violent material to our youth. This is the mission of the Town Hall Foundation. We need your support and help.

Data drawn from CNN and WND – NY

That’s the message for today, more coming.

From Brainwashing to Mainstreaming

Posted on 12/02/2013 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

Our children are being brainwashed by music artists who write songs that extol gratuitous violence, gratuitous sexual conduct, glorify drug use, spew hate speech, and make money doing it. How much money you might ask? In 2013, Diddy leads the list with $50M in earnings, followed closely by Jay Z with $43M, Dr. Dre with $40M, and Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Nicki Minaj totaling $47M. The Hip-Hop industry totals over $250M so far this year. This is not the only music genre that the THF covers. Other genres can also contribute to the childhood development problem.

The significant majority of the earnings are from live concerts and only a small percentage of the earnings come from digital sales. It is the digital portion of their earnings which impact our children the most. They listen to lyrics that are THF non-compliant over and over and over again, leading to the brainwashing effect.

Recently, in a middle school in Southaven, Mississippi, the eleven-year-olds spent almost a week learning about the successes of Jay Z, an entrepreneur, sports team owner, and music artist. On a list sent home for study was the song “Big Pimpin," a song according to one mother that degrades women and glorifies the “Thug” life. The lyrics are readily available on the Internet and the lyrics are, in fact, non-compliant according to the THF review criteria.

The parents of the child complained to the school superintendent, the principal, and requested outside support from the media. All requests remain unanswered. In the letter from the father to the superintendent, the father is quoted, “The facts are this page represented this thug in a positive way and calls him successful. Success to me doesn’t mean demeaning women, glorifying drugs and violence, and flaunting money. Success should be about having respect for themselves and others.”

Let us remember that the assignment and study time was for sixth graders. This is not the age to be mainlining and extolling the virtues of the artist Jay Z and his specific music lyrics. It did not go unchallenged, but it remained as acceptable by this school district. Shame on them.

That’s the message for today, more coming.

Sinead O’Conner Offers Miley Cyrus Advice

Posted on 11/25/2013 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

Miley Cyrus, the Disney “Hanna Montana” heart throb, has made the news for her twerking, song lyrics, drug references, and most lately, her “Wrecking Ball” music video. Miley wrapped herself around a real wrecking ball, sometimes with her clothes on and sometimes not. It appears that Ms. Cyrus is trying to mimic Britney Spears as she underwent her meltdown. We have reviewed some of Miley’s recent lyrics and found them to be non-compliant when analyzed by our researchers.

Well, a long time music professional speaks out and speaks to Miley in specific terms. Let me be clear.  The industry norm suggests that you remain silent when other performers go rogue, but the 46 year old Sinead O’Connor could not hold back and we applaud her decision.

Sinead O’Connor begins by saying it is not “cool to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is, in fact, the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it’s the music business or yourself doing the pimping. Nothing but harm will come in the long run from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself, or any other women, for you to send across the message that you are valued (even by you) for your sexual appeal rather than your obvious talent.”

This is a powerful, direct, mother-like message to Miley. When you break it down, Sinead O’Connor recognizes that Miley has talent but, for some reason, is exploiting herself for short term gain. Not only is Miley willing to write and perform lyrics that are THF non-compliant, she is willing to ask her teen followers to accept her behavior as normal and acceptable.

Neither can be farther from the truth. We would ask Miley to take a deep breath, take two steps back, and chill out. She does have talent, but joining others who write and sing offensive lyrics that are over the top is NOT the way to help with developing teens.

That’s the message for today, more coming.