Change agents: a mediastrategy to combat violence in the Bahamas

Posted in Bahamas, College of the Bahamas, Dan Henrich, entertainment-education, Prosocial media, public service announcements, radio dramas, social cognitive learning theory, social marketing, urban violence, violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2016 by DH

By Daniel Henrich

This is a brief proposal and barebones strategy to combat the rising incidences of violence in Bahamian society among at-risk youth. There has been ample media coverage of this societial problem so I will not cover that here.

To establish a methodology, however, one must look at communication studies in how televised violence has a considerable potential for teaching negative behavior. Much of this perspective comes from the concept of role modeling – coming from a theory called social cognitive learning theory by theorist Albert Bandura. Humans learn by watching other humans and just as positive behavior is learned, so can negative bahavior. The end result is that if your parents, siblings and peers ended arguments with violence it is pretty certain that you will do that also. In fact, you grow up believing that violence is the only solution unless there are local positive models that you can relate to and emulate.

This project concept is based on entertainment-education (E-E) methodology where entertainment media is used embedded with information and situations that will lead viewers and listeners to change behavior over time. I have been involved in producing such E-E media in Thailand and conducted research of other projects. Most E-E projects are longer-term media programming that take the form of the “soap opera” or in some cases the situation comedy to carry prosocial messages within an entertaining format.

To offset this escalating violence among our youth in the Bahamas a long-term media effort is needed. This should include documentaries shown in the high schools, radio & television talk shows, short dramatic commercials on both radio and television and crisis hotlines among others. One must keep in mind that we have to reach the target at-risk audience with the message.

I will deal with Phase One of this media effort and propose a series of dramatic radio spots to run on all the major stations with crisis hot lines used as a follow-up method. The dramatic concept is based on a project done in New York that used public service announcements (PSA) as a medium to provide tools to at risk youth so they can avoid violent situations and make decisions to seek non-violent solutions to potentially violent situations. It used the concept of “Choose to de-fuse” and used characters that demonstrated positive peer pressure to reject aggression as an acceptable solution to conflict and reinforced more positive alternatives and constructive choices.

With funding of Phase One, I propose the following steps:
1). re-finement of the strategy through meetings with NGOs and government organizations
2). holding a series focus groups with at-risk youth to determine key issues that they feel will help provide a solution
3). identifying a local NGO to provide attendees to a radio workshop & script development session to develop a series of 15 short scenarios with dialogue
4). casting talent radio, rehearsing and producing several spots
5). Pre-test these spots to audiences of at-risk youth in a focus group setting. Assuming there are no changes, continue with production of the spots.
6). Air them on local radio stations. Provide crisis hot line calling with counselors.
7). Assuming that these spots have positive feedback, start on the TV versions with a Television workshop, production and airing.

Phase Two
This would involve the development of a series of radio dramas using the same voice talent and extend over a longer period of time.

Henrich is a media consultant with NGOs in Asia. For more information visit Communication Resources International

KEY WORDS: Bahamas, College of the Bahamas, violence, urban violence, entertainment-education, prosocial media, Dan Henrich, radio dramas, social cognitive learning theory, social marketing, public service announcements

Prosocial Abstracts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 1, 2016 by DH

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, New York, USA.

The role of television in encouraging youth violence, and its potential as a prosocial teaching tool are examined. A media strategy developed by New York City in collaboration with inner-city youth exposed to violence, which focused on positive peer pressure for choosing nonviolent solutions to conflict is then delineated, along with the community and media coverage that followed. The effectiveness of the televised public service announcements appeared to be associated with the use of emotionally charged, real-life situations, speech, and body language by characters culturally appropriate to the target audience of at-risk youth.

PMID: 8827259 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]