Argumentative Essay Analysis:
Who Owns Our Children by Daniela Gibson
· How did or didn’t the essay give a focused presentation of an issue?
The main problem addressed in the essay is the increasing rate of child violence in the country. A focused presentation was observed as the author utilizes the ideas and “perceptions” of some parents and groups of people who feel that the cause of such behavior of children is the violence that they see on TV and the only way to halt it is to call the government to take actions, i.e. censorship of TV programs. Also, by discussing the importance (and also the benefits) of responsible parenting, the issue was highlighted. The essay can be divided into three parts: description, analysis, and solution.
Gibson first described the issue with a light touch on the parent’s perspective. She cited some instances that are related to the issue on child violence to establish a link between the main issue and the branching issues and also the parents’ blame to the media, as they have observed a “parallel between the TV violence and child violence.”
In the succeeding paragraphs, she put a twist on the flow of her discussion by delivering her position which is against the common ideology that media must be blamed for the increase in child violence. Her statements in the fourth paragraph signified her position, “To blame the media for child violence and call for censorship of television is a mistake…”. She discussed her analysis of the issue as well as the blame that parents attribute to the media, specifically, airing of violent TV programs.
In the third part of the essay, she discussed her proposed solutions originating on the concept of “responsible parenting”. She cited three attributes of responsible parenting which were all linked to the problem she described and analyzed. The three attributes were: (a) parents should regulate the TV exposure of their children, (b) parents can use TV shows to create a mutual understanding (for dialogue) with their children, and (c) parents should offer their children alternatives to TV. All these counteract the original claims of parents that the government must regulate the airing of TV programs because responsible parenting can provide better results in solving the increasing rate of child violence.
· How did or didn’t the essay articulate a clear position on that issue?
Gibson’s statements in paragraph four clearly stated her position in the issue: to blame the media for child violence and call for censorship of television is a mistake. She was straight to the point even if her point contrasted her initial description of the problem. Her position was clearly stated and she was consistent until she reached the conclusion. Her proposed solution to the issue was to promote responsible parenting.
In the first part of the essay, it was unclear though what the essay’s position was. Gibson was only describing the issue and the opinions of some parents and groups of people about the issue. She said that parents blame the media for child violence and wanted the government to regulate television programs as if there were no other factors causing child violence.
· How did or didn’t the essay give solid reasons and support?
As I have divided the essay into three distinguishable parts, it is easy to discover how the essay was built up by solid reasons and supporting arguments.
In the first part, Gibson discussed the position taken by parents about the issue on increasing rate of child violence as presumably caused by violent television programs. She cited some stories and events that supported this claim by some parents and groups of people. For example, she used the news about the two high school students who killed 12 students and a teacher and left several others wounded. This is striking and very much appealing in the sense that it contained the essence of violence. Also, Gibson discussed some parents’ and groups’ claim of censorship of television programs by the government to halt child violence. One of the supporting arguments in this was Welsh’s statement that approximately 200,000 violent acts are witnessed by children upon graduation in high school. The number is really appalling to some parents and appealing to support their claim.
In the second part, when Gibson already announced her position to the issue, she was attacking it by citing some indisputable statements of people who were experts in the issue. One of the supporting argument states that there is no established link between violent TV programs and the increase in child violence. In the essay, the perceived cause of child violence was disputed and that calling for censorship of programs aired in TV is a mistake. Another solid reason was that most of the television programs aired are already censored and they contain good moral.
Finally, using her analysis of the problem, Gibson focused on responsible parenting as the solution to the increasing rate of child violence. She used practical arguments to support her proposed solution. She was able to provide a practical solution to the problem: responsible parenting. And to further strengthen her proposed solution, she used her own experience (the experience with her nephew).
· How did or didn’t the essay anticipate & address opposing viewpoints and counterarguments?
The essay was unique in the sense that it is intact and can stand opposing viewpoints and counterarguments. The different parts of the essay were supported appropriately (refer to the previous question). The strength of the position of this essay mainly lied on the supporting arguments and solid reasons.
Also, the possible opposing viewpoints were already incorporated in the first part of the essay and those were disputed in the second part, when Gibson revealed her position in the issue. Any counterarguments can fall to the third part but then it will be easily disputed as the practical solution (responsible parenting) was found to be very useful.
· What (if any) logical fallacies do you detect in the essay?
The fallacy that I have observed in the essay is the Appeal to Emotion. It was used throughout the essay. Utilizing the divisions I made, it will be easier to discuss the appeal to emotion. At first, the violence caused by children and the parents desperately looking for a cause evokes emotions to the readers creating a sense of pity and sympathy to them. As a result, many would have been drawn to the perceived cause: violent media. However, in the last part of the essay, Gibson also used appeal to emotion to call the readers to her position that “responsible parenting will not only reduce child violence but also increase the happiness of child and parent.” The feeling of a happy child and parent creates an emotional attachment to both the essay’s stance and the readers. It was furthered by her addition of the experience she had with her nephew. The TV and child relation with violence can be broken by responsible parenting which is very much appealing to the emotion.
Gibson, Daniela. “Who Owns Our Children.” Well-crafted Argument: A Guide And Reader. Ed. Fred D. White and Simone J. Billings. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006. 136-141.