Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Sherman Dorn

Co-Major Professor

J L. McBrien

Keywords

child protection, cyberporn, delinquency, entertainment, moral panics, youth

Abstract

For the past 50 years, various moral panics have emerged in response to concerns about children and teens. In particular, interest in entertainment appealing to youth has been the focus of social and legislative changes aimed at protecting youth from increased sexual and violent content associated with comic books, music lyrics, Internet content, and film and television.

The intent of this study is to compare the emergence and progression of moral panics related to entertainment appealing to youth, such as comic books, music lyrics, the Internet, and film and television, since 1938 to 2010 to better understand the ways we construct youth in the context of moral panics. Cohen's 1972 model of the progression of moral panics was used to compare reactions to entertainment appealing to youth over a 50-year period of time to determine if they followed similar patterns.

Cohen's 1972 model was also used to examine the various ways youth is constructed during moral panics. The model clearly exemplifies that reactions to the entertainment genres examined in the study do follow Cohen's (1972) pattern. Whereas the comic book and music lyrics were easier to track, technology complicated tracking of responses when examining reactions to Internet and film and television.

Conclusions are drawn that how youth is constructed in the context of moral panics is closely related to how adulthood and parenthood is constructed. When parenting habits come under scrutiny, it appears that youth are viewed with suspicion as delinquents; on the other hand, when outside issues or events are targeted as problematic, youth are viewed as in need of protection. Thus, the construction of youth in the context of moral panics appears to be as focused on parenthood as it is on childhood or adolescence.

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