Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A moral panic is a mass movement based on the perception that some individual or group, frequently a minority group or a subculture, is dangerously deviant and poses a menace to society . These panics are generally fuelled by media coverage of social issues (although semi-spontaneous moral panics do occur), and often include a large element of mass hysteria. A widely circulated and new-seeming urban legend is frequently involved. These panics can sometimes lead to mob violence. The term was coined by Stanley Cohen in 1972 to describe media coverage of Mods and Rockers in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. A factor in moral panic is the deviancy amplification spiral.
Recent moral panics in the UK have included the ongoing tabloid newspaper campaign against pedophiles, which led to the assault and persecution of a pediatrician by an angry, if semi-literate, mob in August 2000, and that surrounding the murder of James Bulger in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom in 1993.
Examples of moral panics, or real or imagined phenomena that spurred moral panic:
- Blood libel
- Camera phone - fear of people making photos in pools and gyms
- The "cult brainwashing" scare of the 1970s
- The Columbine massacre led to many schools over-reacting against imagined deviance among their pupils.
- Greek electronic game ban
- Horror comics caused a moral panic in the 1950s.
- Immigration - Tabloid newspapers frequently report stories about abuse of the British welfare system, paint a misleading picture of immigrant numbers and their activities.
- Mad About Boys - scare over a supposedly adult magazine aimed at 8 year olds in the UK, later shown to be overblown
- Magdalen Asylums - imprisonment of women seen as sexually immoral
- Mods and Rockers caused moral outrage in Britain in the 1960s.
- Mormonism in 19th century Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois
- The Parker-Hulme Murder, which along with several other incidents (including the 'Petone incident'), sparked the Mazengarb Report (1954).
- Parents Music Resource Center
- Pedophilia - fear of molesters makes for sensational news
- Poisoned candy - The poisoned Halloween scare of the early 1980s was virtually all false.
- Pornography - reaction to Internet pornography in the 1990s and 2000s
- Rap music
- Recreational drug use including cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy
- Rock 'n' Roll music
- Role Playing Games - alleged links to Devil worship and suicide
- Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal - personal accusations and the resulting public concern in the 2000s as to sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests
- Satanic ritual abuse
- Snuff movies
- Video nasties - films depicting violent acts released on VHS in Britain in the 1980s
- Violence in video games
- West Memphis 3 - Ordinary black concert t-shirts were presented in court as evidence against teenagers accused of satanic murders . One is sentenced to death, the other two are still in jail.
- Witch hunts
- White slavery
- Cohen, Stanley. Folk devils and moral panics. London: Mac Gibbon and Kee, 1972.
- 'Moral Panic' and moral language in the media
- Another paper on moral panics
- Course notes on moral panics
- References to 'moral panic' in the British media
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