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Media Coverage of Child Trauma: Implications in Social Framing Research


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Title: Media Coverage of Child Trauma: Implications in Social Framing Research

Media Coverage of Child Trauma Implications in
Social Framing Research
  • Anandhi Narasimhan, MD

  • Define cognitive frames and understand the
    relationship to public thinking
  • Understand how media frames may influence
    peoples thinking of child trauma
  • Recognize how frames can affect public policy

  1. Definitions
  2. Historical Background
  3. Description of Framing Research
  4. Our current study- introduction, methods, data,
    preliminary findings
  5. Future Implications

  • Communication-process of sharing information
  • Mass Media-section of the media designed to reach
    a very large audience(1920s-newspapers and
  • Framing-a method of providing category and
    structure to thoughts (wikipedia)

  • The way in which the world is imagined
    determines a particular moment what men will do
    (Lippman, W. 1921. Public Opinion. New York The
    Free Press.)
  • - describing the connection between mass
    communications to public attitudes and policy
  • - Concept of frames based on this connection

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Composition of Frames
  • Visuals
  • Metaphors
  • Messengers
  • Narratives
  • Scripts
  • Numbers

  • In economics, this is a single number calculated
    from an array of prices and quantities
  • In terms of framing, indexing is a process of
    creating mental shortcuts to make sense of
  • This allows us to fill in blanks for missing
    information, remember certain facts, and forget
    those that do not support the frame

News Frames
  • Research has shown that types of news frames
    influence how the public attributes
  • Two types- episodic and thematic
  • Episodic tends to elicit individualistic rather
    than societal attributions of responsibility
    thematic framing has the opposite effect.

  • You believe that the current war was a mistake,
    so you are drawn to news stories that reinforce
    this notion, and disregard those that dont
  • You believe that public schools in Los Angeles do
    not provide adequate education, so you are drawn
    to what reinforces this idea

Public Health and the Media
  • A systematic review showed that mass media
    campaigns helped in increasing The use of child
    car seats( Zaza et al, 2001)

Deficits in News Media Coverage
  • Inaccuracy in the coverage of scientific
    published papers(Schwartz et al, 1999 and Loo et
    al, 1998)
  • Overstating the risks or adverse effects of an
    intervention(Brown et al, 1996 and Lebow et al,
    1999) i.e. suicidality and ssris

  • A retrospective analysis of 207 television
    (n37) and newspaper (n180) stories from the
    period 1994-98 about three drugs (pravastatin, a
    cholesterol-lowering drug alendronate, a
    biphosphonate for the prevention and treatment of
    osteoporosis and aspirin, used to prevent
    cardiovascular disease) showed that
  • 83 of 124 stories used a relative frame only
    when quantifying benefits of drug, which can be
  • 53 of 207 stories didnt mention possible
    adverse effects
  • 70 of 207 didnt mention drug costs
  • 60 of 85 stories did not disclose industry
    relation of expert or study they cited

Pharmaceutical Influence
  • Collective accumulation of information and past
    experiences about a topic is known as social
  • Social knowledge influences development and
    transmission of perceptions about prescriptions
    of medications, including psychoactive
  • Social knowledge has a component of symbolism
    meaning of drug described as images,
    representation, or metaphors.

Pharmaceutical Influence
  • This imagery and symbolism is remembered and
    transmitted through society.
  • This is how mass media suggest to patients that a
    specific medication promises to solve health and
    life problems in magical ways i.e. Prozac-happy
    pill, feel-good pill, magic bullets, like
    insulin for my mind/mood (Montagne, 2001, 1996).
    Eli Lilly launched campaign to condemn medias
    exaggeration of the effectiveness of prozac in
    response (Listening to Eli Lilly, 1994).

Strategic Frame Analysis
  • Identifies the dominant frame as it exists in
    public opinion and is reflected in the media,
    demonstrates its impact on public thinking, and
    identifies, measures and tests alternative frames
    that can change decision outcomes.
  • (Gilliam and Bales, Social
  • Policy Report, 2001)

Content Analysis
  • Identify key concepts, pictures, key words
  • Decide how above will be recorded as data- coding
  • From this, recorded communication can be
    analyzed, i.e. tv news, newspapers, magazines,
  • Investigate composition of meaning, and their
    linguistic, affective, cognitive, social,
    cultural, and historical significance

Examples of Frame Analysis
  • News exposure to violent youth superpredators
    increased adult support of punitive crime policy
    (Gilliam and Iyengar, 1998)
  • Politicians moved to enforce more restrictive
    youth policies such as lowering the age at which
    a juvenile can be tried as an adult (Males,
    1998), passing youth curfews, gang injunctions,
    search of childrens lockers and placing metal
    detectors in schools.

Goals of Our Study
  1. Perform a content analysis of media coverage of
    child trauma
  2. Understand how child trauma is portrayed in the
  3. Use this information to help develop effective
    public health campaigns to promote increased
    willingness to access care for victims of child

  • We chose 16 major newspapers representing
    different demographic regions, ethnic and
    cultural diversity, political and religious
    affilations, small and large market sizes
  • New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times,
    Atlanta Constitution Journal, Christian Science
    Monitor, El Paso Times, Topeka Capital Journal,
    Des Moines Register, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning
    News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Miami Herald,
    Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Salt
    Lake City Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Trigger Words
  • Child Abuse, also physical or sexual abuse
  • Child Trauma
  • Child Kidnapping
  • Child Hostages
  • Youth Violence
  • War related violence involving children

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Trigger Words contd
  • Genocide involving children
  • Dog bite or animal bite involving child
  • Burns involving child
  • Shaken baby
  • Adolescent suicide
  • Child witnessing suicide
  • School shootings

Trigger Words contd
  • Child Amputation
  • Child hit by a car
  • Cancer in child
  • War orphans
  • Violence in Darfur involving children
  • Child Trafficking
  • Child Prostitution

  • Abd al-Rahman, Age 13I am looking at the sheep
    in the wadi riverbed, or oasis. I see Janjaweed
    comingquickly, on horses and camels, with
    Kalashnikovsshooting and yelling, kill the
    slaves, kill the blacks. They killed many of the
    men with the animals. I saw people falling on the
    ground and bleeding. They chased after children.
    Some of us were taken, some we didnt see again.
    All our animals were taken camels, cows, sheep,
    and goats. Then the planes came and bombed the

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Methods Contd
  • Articles were divided and distributed to three
  • One coding packet filled out for every article
  • Coders rated articles for trigger words,
    attribution of responsibility, recommendations,
    tone, type- thematic or episodic, government
    source, education source, industry source,
    non-profit agency source, primary or secondary

Methods contd
  • Access World News Bank was the search engine used
    to locate articles from newspapers
  • Time frame July 1, 2006 to July 31, 2006
  • Trigger words entered into search engine and
    articles from the sixteen newspapers were

Methods contd
  • Reliability checked by randomly selecting
    articles by independent reviewers and comparing
    coding data
  • Data Analysis- descriptive study verses
    prescriptive study such as in clinical trials, so
    no hypothesis being validated or rejected

  • First Trigger Word- Child Abuse
  • First 60 articles out of 472 cited
  • 13 removed because they were repeats
  • or unrelated to children
  • Leaving 47 articles

Results Contd
  • Story Type Code
  • Episodic- 40
  • Thematic- 17
  • Episodic/Some Thematic- 28
  • Thematic/Some Episodic- 15

Results Contd
  • Tone
  • Problem Frame-30
  • Problem Frame/Some Benefit-21
  • Benefit Frame-2
  • Benefit Frame/Some Problem- 4
  • Neutral Frame- 43

Results Contd
  • Reccommendations - 36 17 out 47
  • Mental Health Services- 11
  • Medical Care- 18
  • Community Programs- 9
  • Child Protective Services- 30
  • Other Recs included shelters, parents speaking to
    children, Non-profit agencies, crisis assistance,

Results Contd
  • Attribution of Responsibility-36
  • Family/Parent-59
  • Policy and Legislation- 18
  • Law Enforcement- 6
  • Child Protective Services-6
  • Other Attributions-war, resistance to change,
    racism, drugs, affected population

Results Contd
  • Government Source Cited- 66
  • Industry Source Cited- 23
  • Education Source- 2

  • Attribution of Responsibility was predominantly
    linked to parents/family
  • More of the stories tended to be episodic in
    nature as opposed to thematic
  • About one-third of stories had recs, even fewer
    for Mental Health Services
  • Education source is not a component of most

  • How much does the public know about the effects
    of trauma on children?
  • Do people think that treatment is necessary and
    are they familiar with available treatment?
  • How will their knowledge influence their support
    for public health campaigns to increase
    willingness to access care?

Future Steps
  • Expand research to include other media outlets,
    television news, radio
  • Conduct Focus groups to see how public discourse
    is influenced by messages from the media
    regarding child trauma
  • Simplify Models developed to correct
    misunderstandings and false beliefs
  • Conduct Priming Surveys

  • Mentors Coders
  • Robert Pynoos, MD, MPH
    Julia Newbold
  • Alessia Gottlieb, MD
    Eden Fairweather
  • Frank Gilliam, PHD,Vice Chancellor, UCLA
    Lorena Chavea
  • Department of Communications
  • Bonnie Zima MD, MPH
  • Margaret Stuber, MD
  • Sheryl Katoaka, MD
  • Collaborators
    Technical Support
  • National Center for Child Traumatic Stress- UCLA
    Joan R Kaplowitz, PhD
  • And Duke
    UCLA Library
  • Alan M. Steinberg, PHD, Associate Director
    Vanderbilt TV NewsArchive

  • You must be the change you want to see in the
  • (Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948)
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