This statement
asks about the existing fears and anxieties’, through the media, this is relatively
related to ‘moral panics’ through the media, which is known to exaggerate the
news, to get an uproar of reactions and emotions from the member of the public.
According to ThoughtsCo. A definition of moral panic is as follows “A moral
panic is a widespread fear, most often an irrational one, that someone or
something is a threat to the values, safety, and interests of a community or
society at large. Typically, a moral panic is perpetuated by news media, fuelled
by politicians, and often results in the passage of new laws or policies that
target the source of the panic. In this way, moral panic can foster increased
social control.”
(Accessed 03/01/18). The rest of this essay will inform and give examples of
the fears and anxieties’ known as moral panics throughout.

A theorist
Stanley Cohen suggested in his book Folk Devils and Moral Panics, 1972, ‘that a
moral panic occurs when a condition, episode, person or group of persons
emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests’.
According to Cohen, ‘the media play a massive role in enforcing moral panic,
even if it just simply reporting the news’. This explains that’s the media have
a vital role with getting a reactions from the members of public, through
social media, and in general the news, however, the news is available on mobile
devices, and can be shown through ads on social media, and through the internet
in general, so you are rarely unable to get away from the news, by being able
to do this, this will allow the younger generations to see the news, which will
create panic through them, along with the news which is delivered through the television.
Its societies that appear to be subject, every so often, to periods of moral
panic. A “conditions, episode, person or group if persons emerges to become
defined as a threat to societal values and interests” Stanley Cohen, (2011),
Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor & Francis e-Library (pg.46). Its nature
is to be presented in a stylized and stereotypical way, by the mass media; the moral
barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking
people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions. According
to Cohen, ‘the media overreact to an aspect of behaviour which may be a challenge
to existing social norms’ this describes that, as someone else’s behaviour does
not reach the social standard norms, this is then over reacted, when in some
cases it is nothing to be panicked or worried about, as the media changes the
way some certain situations are preserved and create a dramatic effect, which
then allows the moral panic to begin. ‘The medias response and representation
of that behaviour actually helps to define it, communicate it and portrays it
as a model for outsiders to observe and adopt’. When the moral panic concept
was developed by Stanley Cohen, the concept was popularized when Cohen
explained the public reaction to disturbances by some of the youths called
“mods and rockers”, (theses were two different youth subcultures who just
didn’t get along with each other), at a seaside resort in Brighton, England
during the 1960s. From the work of Cohen, this then illustrated how those
reactions influenced the formation and enforcement of social policy, law and
societal perceptions of the threats posed by the “mods and rockers”. However,
since this inception, the moral panic concept has now become applied to a much
wider range of social problems “school violence, child abuse, Satanism,
wilding, flag burning, illegal immigration and terrorism.” Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. 2015, Moral Panic: Who Benefits
From Public Fear?, Available online:
(28/12/17). This then
shows over time, that moral panic isn’t’ just created to youths, but has now
been developed into more, as it allows to create fear into other members of
public. There are two different cases which stand out from moral panic, both
known by the names of the victims. “one the Jamie Bulger story, was utterly
unique, yet triggered off an immediate and ferocious moral panic” Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral
Panics, Taylor & Francis e-Library. (pg,9). As the Jamie Bulger case
involved three children: the two-year-old victim and the two ten-year-old
perpetrators, known as Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. These young boys
abducted the two-year-old from a shopping centre in Bootle, and horrifically
abused and murdered Jamie Bulger, by “leading him two and a half miles to a
railway line and battered him to death” Stanley
Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor & Francis e-Library. (pg,10),
this caused a huge amount of moral panic, by two children murdering another
child, who have said that there was influenced, “the perpetrators were
influenced by seeing the movie, Child’s Play 3”. Maire Messenger Davies, (2016), Moral Panics and the Young: The James
Bulger Murder, 1993. The moral panic which was crated, because the number
of ‘Children Who Kill Children’ is minute and not increasing. It was the
precisely and rarity of this case and its content which made it so horrifying.
This went to trail, and an uproar of a ‘breed’ of violent children, came about
to create a sense of moral panic. The
other case is the Stephen Lawrence case, he was an 18-year-old black youth from
South London. While just standing at a bus stop with a friend he was taunted
with racial abuse by a group of about five or six white youths. They stabbed
him in the chest and he then died some hours later that day. Unlike the Bulger
case, this was not as unusual, however just as “received more intense public
and media exposure over a much longer period.” Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor
& Francis e-Library (pg,11). This
shows that racist threats and attacks are more likely to happen, then two
children murdering another child, however, it shows that it still received
moral panic, even though this isn’t the first case to happen, it still causes
fear through the media. In the case of Stephen Lawrence, it was the failure to
bring the group to trail, “the visible failure to bring the known group of
suspects to trial led to continuous revelations of police incompetence and
racism.” Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor &
Francis e-Library (pg., 11). After a period of about 6 years, by organisations
and claims which was being made, by varies different kinds of people and anti-racist
groups and including Stephen’s parents themselves, they finally managed to receive
three million pounds. There was a lot of moral panic caused by the Stephen Lawrence
case, it caused a huge public attention and an iconic policy agenda referring to
policing. Along the black population, it would have caused much more of a
panic, due to this attack being a random outburst by the white group, this
attack and murder was plainly out of racism. This was all caused through the
failure from the police, ‘the lack of professional incompetence and having poor
leadership, it was the police that failed to respond to the concerns of ethnic
minorities and discriminations through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness
and racist stereotyping.’ Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics,
Taylor & Francis e-Library (pg., 12) (para. 6.34). the main moral panic was
towards the police, whereas the suspected offenders shortly become unforgotten,
the nature of violence and the racism, but the failure and the incapability in
which the police could not take on, the worry that the police are unable of
looking after the members of the public, as a young man was murdered, and the
suspects did not get caught. Throughout these two case studies, may they be
very two difference cases, they show how moral panic can be created in different
situations, caused by the fear, caused by things in which you wouldn’t expect to
happen, and when they do happen and tradigies have been created this, created fear,
and this fear then become worldwide news, which creates panic, In many of us,
because you tend to know what people are capable of, or that the individuals
and the professional police for is incapable or failed at, when we put our
trust within them, to look after us, to make sure that we are all safe, and
that no harm is caused to any of us, this is why moral panic can be created,
and moral panic is still being created to this day, with terror attacks, the
most recent attack was in 2September 2017 in London and Manchester” according
to the Guardian, (
Accessed 03/01/18) causing many deaths to children and spreading fear worldwide,
because of this the there was a high alert and an huge increase in armed police.
However, by allowing this to happen with the armed police and the rise, this
had the benefit of the public to feel safe as they’d reduce the amount of fear
in which everybody would have had growing. There have been other cases where fear
has arrived, a case in USA, having mass shootings within the school, having the
school ground taped of and paramedics taking children out, with the horror of
the parents. The two-armed boys only went in to kill a teacher and twelve
students but started a mascara within the school, this case was described differently
by different news reported for example; “The Misfits Who Killed for Kicks”) (25
April) say The Independent and Sunday times” Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils
and Moral Panics, Taylor & Francis e-Library(pg.15). the Guardian example
was ‘The Massacre that Challenges America’s Love Affair with the Gun’ (22
April). These are the two different approaches in which the news uses these titles
to create this news, to grab people’s attention and to create tension through
the media, this has been created to purposely to create panic, it’s the text in
which they use for it to have that effect, with a strong, intriguing headline. At
the point in the sixties, according to Cohen “concepts like ‘moral panic’ and ‘deviancy
amplification’ were symbiotically linked to certain assumptions about the mass
media” Stanley Cohen,
(2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor & Francis e-Library (pg.29). Casual
cases were taken for granted, and notably that the mass media are the main
source of the public’s knowledge about deviance and the social problems. The media
appear in any or all of three roles in moral panic drama; one being ‘setting
the agenda’ – “selecting those deviant or socially problematic events deemed as
newsworthy, then using finer filters to select which of these events are
candidates for moral panic;” the second being ‘Transmitting the images’ – “transmitting
the claims of claims-makers, by sharpening up or dumbing down the rhetoric of
moral panics;” and the last effect being ‘breaking the silence, making the
claim.” Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor &
Francis e-Library (pgs. 29,30), this shows how the media breaks down the news
to draw and make it interesting for individuals to read, and how they have been
able to create moral panic for decades. Each society posses a set of ideas of
what causes deviations, and show a set of images from that, and from this these
conceptions shape what is done about the behaviour. In industrial societies’,
the body of the information from which some ideas are built, is invariably received
at a second-hand opportunity. This means, it arrives already processed by the mass
media and this then means that the information has been subject to alternative definitions
of what constitutes ‘news’ and how it should be gathered and shown. The gives the
idea of how the news has been created and what goes on, and how it has been processed
and then delivered to everybody else, it’s know to be their very reporting of certain
‘facts’ can be sufficient to generate concern, anxiety, indignation or panic. “The
media might also leave a diffuse feeling of anxiety about the situations: ‘something
should be done about it’, ‘where will it end?’ or ‘this sort of thing can’t go
on forever.'” Stanley Cohen, (2011), Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Taylor &
Francis e-Library (pg. 55). This shows that the media does create anxieties are
arise questions just like these. 


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