Children’s nursery rhymes contain 10 times more violence than British television shows broadcast before the country’s 9 p.m. “watershed” after which more adult content can be shown, research published on Thursday said.
“You would hear about 10 times more violence if you listened to an hour of nursery rhymes than if you watched television for an hour before 9 o’clock on an average day,” said Dr. Adam Fox of St Mary’s Hospital in London.
He and his colleagues compared violence in 25 popular nursery rhymes like “Jack and Jill” and “Simple Simon” and in television programs on Britain’s five main television channels over a two-week period by using data from Ofcom, the independent regulator for the British communications industry.
There were 1,045 episodes of violence on television over the two weeks. In an hour of viewing there were nearly five disturbing scenes, compared to more than 52 while listening to nursery rhymes for the same period.
Although 44 percent of nursery rhymes contained violence, compared to half the television shows, the researchers said the levels of accidental and aggressive violence were twice as high in the children’s tales.
Nearly 75 percent of violence on television was implied but it dropped to 44 percent in nursery rhymes, the researchers said in The Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Fox admitted that the approach to the study was tongue in cheek but he said it showed that a complex phenomena like an increase in violence in children cannot be blamed simply on watching too much television.
In England and Wales about 10 percent of all crimes are committed by school-age children.
“Laying the blame solely on television is simplistic and may divert attention from vastly more complex societal problems,” Fox and his colleagues said.