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Moral Panic Analysis and its Effects on Youth Culture (Essay Sample)


The task was to choose a current example of moral panic and analyze its effects on Youth Culture. The sample analyzes the impact of sexual molesters to culture evolution and its contribution to moral panic.


Moral Panic Analysis and its Effects on Youth Culture
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Moral Panic Analysis and its Effects on Youth Culture
There have been numerous changes concerning the view of sexual molesters over the last few years (Cohen 2002, p. 33). The author notes that the society has experienced this phenomenon across cultures shaping their experience with sexual offenders. Intrinsically, the focus of this paper is on the label and the social typing associated with sexual offenders. To investigate the nature and effect of the societal reaction to this phenomenon, it is important to investigate how it is perceived and conceptualized, how the images are presented, the modes through which they were presented, and the reaction of social control agents (Powell 2007, p. 21). This article will trace the development and reverberation of societal reaction to sexual offenders by the mass media as well as discuss the reaction and the historical and structural patterns associated with it. The societal reaction and the moral panic effects on youth culture will be the focus of this study.
The various forms of entertainment that currently exist were not available to previous generations. Entertainment forms such as video games, Dungeons and Dragons, rock ‘n’ roll and comic books have fallen under public scrutiny by the journalistic media creating a moral panic (Cohen 2002, p. 9). Stanley Cohen coined the term by exploring it to explain the reaction by the society to the era’s phenomenon of Mods and Rockers. Cohen studied the phenomenon and both the public and the media’s perception and response to its aspects. Further, Cohen defines moral panic as an episode, condition, or group of persons who emerge to be defined as a threat to the values and interests of a society (Cohen 2002, p. 17). The media style and stereotype its fashion while socially accredited experts diagnose its solutions and evolve ways of coping that is often resorted to. This condition then disappears, deteriorates or becomes invisible (Cohen 19). Cohen asserts that exaggeration and distortion are inevitable when facts are omitted or misconstrued to portray these events as worse than they really are. The media implies assumptions that the event may occur again by reporting events even when nothing happens.
The phenomenon of sex predators has taken shape following various episodes such as Philip Jenkins’ book on the child molesters’ changing concepts in modern America (Cohen 2002, p. 37). The author highlights the reaction of the public to adults engaging in sexual acts with minors over the past years. Jenkins’ book states that sexual offenders of a quarter century ago were portrayed as rare and confused individuals who were unlikely to repeat their crimes. However, today, sexual offenders are perceived as incurable repeat offenders and predators. The terminology that describes offenders has changed in its vocabulary and connotation. Moreover, the term ‘paedophile’ has been used in the absence of a proper term for offenses involving teenagers below the age of thirteen to describe sexual offenders. In addition, the media has adapted other inappropriate terms to create a vicious and vivid imagery. The media has used the term ‘predator,’ that is synonymous with animals that hunt others for survival, to describe moral molesters. This is evident by newspapers using the term sexual predators in 1985 to 1995 (Cohen 2002, p. 37).
In another instance, an ABC show broadcasted the ultimate betrayal of sexual violence in the church by reporting a paedophile priest, James Porter. Stephen Cook testified that the priest sexually victimised him in the 1970s. Later, Cook withdrew the charges after getting national publicity by stating that his memory was distorted. Television shows, books and movies that featured sexual predators with a disproportionate number of priests surfaced on the market sensationalizing the existing few scandals. In the sexual molester’s scenario, the media publicised the events and spread the hostile belief, causing the mobilization of actions by the participants, magnifying the involved groups, and polarising the community against the deviants. The media defined whom the sexual offenders were creating images that defined and separated them from the majority. The press then exaggerated the extent of this involvement.
This image of sexual ...
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