Do Police Brutality Videos Victimize Youth?

WFU researchers studying effects of watching videos of police brutality on young Black people.

According to WXII12 News, researchers at Wake Forest University are seeking young Black adults for a research study investigating the impact of watching viral videos of police violence.

Those affiliated with the study say the shooting death of Philando Castile captured on Facebook Live prompted them to do this study.

Fox 8 News reports that the research team – led by scholars Sherri Williams and Danielle Parker Moore – is interested in learning more about the ways in which social media images of police brutality affect Black people ages 18-24.

The multi-generational research team also includes Matt Williams, Director in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and research assistant Sydni Williams, a 2017 graduate.

“Social science research suggests that the continued exposure to harmful images can cultivate heightened levels of anxiety, fear, and hopelessness among viewers,” said Sherri Williams, who studies representations of people of color in the media, according to a press release. “Given the increased visibility of police brutality against Black people circulating across the internet, it’s imperative that we fully uncover the ways in which black young adults handle the violence against people who share their racial identity.”

“Because younger Black people are so immersed in social media and technology, we thought it might be a good idea to look at how this group is dealing with constantly seeing these images. So that’s why we really wanted to target younger Black people,” Sherri Williams added.

Williams claimed so far respondents have indicated feeling traumatised from viewing these types of videos. She said many expressed a struggle of not wanting to see the images but still wanting to be informed.

“Seeing it that up close and seeing the actual physical shooting was really striking and made me think we can’t show something like ISIS on TV beheading people because it would cause a stir among people. It’s the same kind of thing with these videos,” Wake Forest Alumnus Robbie Bynum said.

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