"The question that needs to be asked in the television-violence debate is, 'Why on earth does anybody watch that stuff?"' said U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop at an Oct. 6 meeting of the National Coalition on Television Violence.
Rather than "pounding away at the broadcaster," he told coalition members, "our job is to research further into the motivations of the audience." The fact is, he said, that millions of people voluntarily watch violent programs.
The reason television programmers broadcast violent programs is obvious, the surgeon general said--"to get that larger audience share." What we need, he said, are answers to "far more disturbing questions.''
He suggested that a principal question to be asked is why "refusing to broadcast [violent] shows would trigger a loud complaint from the viewing public."
The Surgeon General also indicated his support of a controversial National Institute of Mental Health study indicating that televised violence can lead to aggressive behavior in children. "I happen to think that the nimh work is good. I also think the network research is not as good," he said in reference to recent NBC research that found television violence to have a minimal effect on the behavior of children.
Despite budget cutbacks in public broadcasting and in education, 95 percent of all public-television stations provided educational services during the 1982-83 academic year, according to findings of a research project of the National Center for Education Statistics and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
All of the 168 public-television licensees at the time of the study responded to the questionnaire. Seventeen of the stations provided K-12 services only; 22 provided postsecondary services only, and 120 provided services at both levels, according to the report.
The study reports that since 1978-79--the last time this survey was conducted--"there have been no significant decreases in the level of K-12 instructional services provided [to K-12] although the number of instructional personnel providing those services declined."
The study reports that K-12 services have held steady or increased since 1981-82. About 42 percent of the licensees increased the services they provided for the elementary level and 51 percent increased the services for the secondary level.
The editors of Engineering 84, a science magazine for junior and senior high-school students, say they intend to do more editorially to help readers improve their skills in mathematics and science.
The magazine, funded by the American Association of Engineering Societies, will include expanded coverage in the computer field, as well as information on such academic contests as "Mathcounts" and "Teams.'' It will also offer more career guidance. The aaes now receives more than 100 letters every day requesting such information, says Kenneth McCollum of the society's guidance committee.--cc