MAY 12, 1997

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Turn off the violence on May 17th

Media Awareness by Deborah Stone
The Northshore PTA Council has declared May to be Media Awareness Month, with each week dedicated to a specific focus. The first week emphasized tools to understand the media and last week dealt with advertising, examining the role it plays and the various forms it takes.
   This week is devoted to the issues surrounding violence in the media and will culminate with "Turn Off the Violence Day" on May 17th. The final week will look at the images of youth and how we can promote a more realistic picture of the young people in our community.
   According to Rhonda McKim, co-chair of TV Be Smart, Watch Smart Committee, and Chair of the Violence Intervention and Prevention Committee of the Northshore PTA Council, the goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of the media to help people become better consumers. The Council has prepared resource materials which have been distributed to all Northshore schools and PTAs, local libraries, and other interested groups.
   Handouts on TV and violence, talking with kids about violence, analyzing violence in the media, and how to write the media to express your concerns are included in the packets, as well as pledge cards for "Turn Off the Violence Day."
   "May 17th has been set aside for people to spend just one day paying attention to the amount of violence that comes through in the media and to make a choice not to allow it in," says McKim. She adds, "We hope that one day will lead to more days."
   This is the second year for this event, but this time the Council is broadening its base to include more community groups and organizations, not just the schools and PTAs. According to McKim, there is interest from KCTS Channel 9 in making this a countywide event for next year.
   "We would like this to be an ongoing campaign because of its importance in our society today and for the future," says McKim. "The media is such an influence on our lives, and we need to help children develop skills to interpret the messages that come to them because it's so overwhelming to process everything."
   McKim emphasizes that she does not advocate censorship, but rather is for media literacy skills to assist in making sound choices. As part of McKim's work, she does a free workshop titled "Take Charge of Your TV" for parent groups, daycare providers, PTAs, preschool groups, and anyone else who expresses interest in having her come and talk about violence in TV shows and commercials. Her committees have done community surveys on violence, presentations on safeguarding children, and they are putting together a workshop on teen dating violence.
   McKim, mother of three, has been a volunteer since 1980. Her interest in media awareness and violence intervention and prevention stemmed from wanting her children to have a better world than the one she saw around her. "I knew that the only way things would get better would be for me to pitch in and help to make a change," she said.
   To receive information regarding Media Awareness Month, contact Rhoda McKim at 483-5781.