Media-Defined Child Normality Assignment

Paper details:

1. Critically examine TWO television characters that portray child behavior that could be considered abnormal. Provide details about the behavior of interest, including how other characters react to it, whether it strikes you as normal behavior being pathologized, or abnormal behavior being normalized. YOU CAN ONLY USE CARTOON CHARACTERS DESIGNED FOR KIDS. DO NOT USE “WINNIE THE POOH”. You will then write up your observations and analysis (4-5 pages, double spaced, 12-point font).

2. Make sure to include:

a. The name of the television program

b. Behavior of Character


3. Describe the positive or negative qualities of the portrayals of these children/characters. Say whether stereotypes about abnormal behavior are being used deliberately by the producers or writers and what effect, if any, they are pursuing.


You must include the following indicators of abnormality and discuss every single one of them.

1. Subjective distress: If people suffer or experience psychological pain we are inclined to consider this indicative of abnormality; however, although subjective distress is an element of abnormality in many cases, it is neither a sufficient condition nor even a necessary condition for us to consider something as abnormal.

2. Maladaptiveness: Any behavior that is maladaptive for the individual or toward society (e.g., anorexia); starving oneself is maladaptive.

3. Statistical deviance: The word abnormal literally means “away from the normal.” Also, just because something is statistically common or uncommon does not reflect abnormality (e.g., having an intellectual disability, although statistically rare, represents a deviation from the normal).

4. Violation of the standards of society: All cultures have rules. Some of these are formalized as laws. Others form the norms and moral standards that we are taught to follow. When people fail to follow the conventional social and moral rules of their cultural group, we may consider their behavior (e.g., the Amish of Pennsylvania not driving a car or watching television).

5. Social discomfort: Not all rules are explicit, and not all rules bother us when they are violated. However, when someone breaks a social rule and then those around this individual experience a sense of discomfort or unease (e.g., you are sitting in an almost empty bus and then someone comes and sits directly next to you).

6. Irrationality and unpredictability: People are expected to behave in socially acceptable ways and abide by social rules. For example, if someone next to you started screaming and yelling obscenities at nothing, this behavior would be viewed as unpredictable, disorganized, and irrational.

7. Dangerousness: This represents someone who is clearly a danger to himself or to another person.