Everything We Needed was There - Georgia Team Builds Prevention on CML's Media Violence Kit

When Dekalb County, Georgia's Office of Prevention and Intervention began planning a media violence training, they decided CML's Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media filled their need just perfectly. The county-wide office – funded through the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act – selected a two-person team from each of the twelve county middle schools to participate in the ten hour workshop.

The county was granted a Substance Abuse Block Grant which they used to purchase 12 Beyond Blame kits that now form the backbone of their media violence module. "We see substance abuse as a multi-faceted problem requiring a broader approach than simply an anti-drug message," says director, Jennifer Errion. "We started with modules on mediation and harassment. When we began looking into the TV violence issue, we felt we needed something very practical for our middle school teachers. We saw Beyond Blame in the CML catalog and thought it would be perfect."

Errion and other prevention staff saw a need for a program that addressed the issue of violence with targeted lessons for middle school and other levels. With clear, activity-based lessons and reproducibles, Beyond Blame provided Dekalb County teachers with materials they could use with their students immediately. But Beyond Blame also went a step further by providing staff developers with a full inservice component that didn't require them to reinvent the wheel. "I thought the process of studying and researching violence in the media was an extremely daunting task. Luckily, I didn't need to; everything we needed was right there," Errion explained.

Beyond Blame Middle School Lessons Include:
    • What are You Watching?!
    • Why is Everyone Watching?
    • Violence Doesn't Solve Problems, It Causes Them
    • Heroes and Heroines: Who's Real? Who's Fake?
    • How Much Violence Do You Watch?
    • What's the Big Deal? Four Effects of Viewing Media Violence
    • Who's Responsible?
    • Sharing What You Have Learned

They kicked off the session with a review of the National TV violence study noting an increase in violent images in the media. After a lunch spent watching Frontline's Does TV Kill?, they then conducted the Beyond Blame 90-minute introductory unit.

The second day began by dividing into groups. Each team prepared one of the eight Beyond Blame middle school lessons below and then presented it to the entire group. "I have never seen a group of people so excited to go back and implement the material," said Errion. "It was so exciting and the comments we received on our evaluations were extremely favorable."

Participants loved the workshop's timeliness and hands-on design, calling the two-day session "interactive and informative." Another appeal to the middle school teachers who often team teach is how well the Beyond Blame curriculum fit with an interdisciplinary approach. Participants also felt the pervasive need for media violence training and curriculum. One teacher suggested that Beyond Blame "be incorporated into the county curriculum." Another believed, "violence is so prevalent in our students' lives…all teachers should be required to take this course."

The Prevention and Intervention Program will deliver the middle school portion of Beyond Blame to each middle school media center. They will keep the rest of the package at their office for check out by any of the schools in the 91,000 student Dekalb County School System.