Victims or criminals? The effects of the media on the public perception of the role of children in the Mexican drug war
With the evolution of war, new international norms have been created. Boys were once groomed for war, but the laws of today aim to protect children. I address the issue of the role of children as victims or criminals to the ongoing violence of the war on drugs in Mexico. I look at the different international conventions where children's rights are defined, and whether they can be held responsible for their actions during times of war. I hypothesize that the framing of media coverage affects the public perception of children involved in this conflict, in regards to their core beliefs through which they interpret the media and the negativity bias; public opinion will be a result of how the media depicts these children. I analyze news articles, from both sides of the border, to determine whether the actions of children are framed in a positive or negative context. I conduct an experiment with University of Texas at El Paso students, in which I provide mock news articles that intentionally frame the actions of children in a positive and negative context. I analyze the pre-test and post-test in order to find support for my hypothesis that framing of the media affects the public perception of the role that children are playing. By contributing to prior research on child soldiers, this study demonstrates that the term child soldier can apply to unconventional war; the War on Drugs, a concept. This research project opens the door for further studies to analyze the role of child soldiers in unconventional wars.
Falcon, Stephenie Michel, "Victims or criminals? The effects of the media on the public perception of the role of children in the Mexican drug war" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1545158.