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Health Promot Perspect. 2021;11(2): 219-229.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2021.27
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Original Article

Prevalence of violent advertisements in New York City subways

Dottington Fullwood 1* ORCID logo, Carrie Cameron 2, Sydney Means 1, Stephen Anton 1, Zachary L. Stickley 3, Randal Hale 4, Diana J. Wilkie 5

1 Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, College of Medicine, The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32611, USA
2 Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Cancer Prevention Research Training Program, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, 77230, USA
3 Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, 77030, USA
4 North River Geographic Systems, Inc., Chattanooga, TN, 37411, USA
5 Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science, College of Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 32610, USA
*Corresponding Author: Dottington Fullwood, Email: mdottington.full@ufl. edu

Abstract

Background: Media advertisements displaying aggression and violence in public transit spaces represent a public health concern. The high visibility of ads likely contributes to increased levels of aggression among New York City (NYC) youths traveling across boroughs. Given the importance of the physical, psychological and social environment in shaping the lives of youth, additional attention is warranted regarding how media advertisements are promoted within public transit spaces across America. The aim of this study was to document quantity and placement of advertisements illustrating aggressive and violent content throughout the NYC public transit subway system.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted over a five-day period in June 2017. Direct observation was used to document all advertisements within every NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway station (N = 472) in four NYC boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Static media advertisements with/without aggressive and violent content displayed on subway platform wall panels above and underground were counted, photographed and described with a mobile app.

Results: Aggressive and violent ads in the MTA were pervasive. Subway platforms displayed advertising consisting of guns, individuals fighting and attacking, and words with aggressive language.

Conclusion: Public transit spaces provide unregulated visual and verbal messages without citizen participation. Subway stations in NYC and across the country prohibition stance could be a model for violent content reduction. Given the pervasive and tragic effects of aggression and violence on youth and adults, transit agencies could inundate passengers with positive advertising content. Dialogue between citizens and transit agencies to remove noxious messages from public transit spaces warrants the same discussion given to banning alcohol advertisements.

Keywords: Advertising, Aggression, New York City, Subways, Violence
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Submitted: 28 Jan 2021
Accepted: 27 Feb 2021
ePublished: 19 May 2021
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