Music is a prominent force in adolescent lives; according to the American Medical Association, American adolescents spend a total of four and a half hours a day listening to music and watching music videos. Parents are increasingly weary of suggestive, violent, lyrical content in popular music. A University of California study recently showed that 48% of Americans, including the younger generation, say that violence in popular music should be regulated. .
In Paducah, the affect of violent lyrical content in popular music has been an ongoing debate since the Heath High School shooting. Prior to the Heath shooting, in the case of the school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, one of the teen murderers admitted to law enforcement officers that the rap music he listened to might have contributed to his state of mind before the murders, if not his overall decision to gun down his classmates. Mitchell Johnson, the student, said, "It puts you in a certain state of mind." This is not only relevant to the music/violence debate but it is a crucial element in understanding what is going on with the modern youth. Clearly, it can not be stated that the sole contributing factor in the student"s decision to commit murder was rap music; but it was a contributing factor. I believe that there is a painful and direct correlation between violence in popular music and violence in youth; I do not believe that government regulation, or censorship, is going to fix this problem.
For those who debate the adverse effect of violent music on a person"s mind-state, I offer this example. I enjoy jazz. In my opinion, jazz is soothing and relaxing. When I am in the mood to calm down after a long day of work, I listen to jazz. The soft tones and relaxing beats have a positive, feel-good effect on my state of mind. In the early days of jazz, African-Americans would listen to, and play, the music as a release from the racial climate in which they lived.