THE impact of images of violence on young people has been raising concern for quite some time now. Surveys show that children, including very young ones, get heavy exposure to violent images in the media - in newspapers and on television and through video casettes. There is an 'explosion' of violence with the proliferation of public and private TV channels, and the spread of cable TV. Youngsters spend many hours in front of their television screens, and many of the programmes have a highly violent content. Visual violence comes from a variety of sources. Children watch not only programmes specifically designed for them, many of which are full of violent and aggressive behaviour, such as certain Japanese cartoons currently invading our screens, but also adult programmes. The adult fare (films, serials, and video clips), as well as news programmes, often carry alarming scenes of war, murder, horrifying accidents, natural disasters and so on. Many scientific investigations have been and are being made into the effects of violent images on young people's psychological and social behaviour. Television violence intensifies aggressive and violent behaviour in children and adolescents. However, two riders should be added to this statement: firstly, television and other violence-filled visual productions should not be blamed for all manifestations of aggression seen in young people. Many other factors - sociological, psychological, economic and political - are involved. Secondly, it is important to realise that not all children react identically to violent images. It is the spontaneously aggressive, irritable and agitated children and adolescents who are the biggest consumers of this type of programme. But also note that these same young people often come from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds, and these children are the most vulnerable ones. How does television violence produce its adverse effects? The more frequent the violent scenes and the more realistic they are, the greater the chances of young people wanting to imitate them. There is no doubt that the presentation of violent 'models' heightens some people's aggressive tendencies. Children often have difficulty distinguishing between the real and the imaginary in the pictures they see. This has the effect of removing some of the barriers that prevent a child from becoming violent in actions. Delinquent behaviour is not the only consequence to be feared when young people are shown scenes of violence. The trivialisation of violence tends to foster in children and adolescents the idea that violence towards others is a 'normal' form of behaviour. This might account for the apathy often observed in witnesses of violent incidents in everyday life. How should we tackle this state of affairs? It is increasingly apparent that families, educationists, children's doctors and political authorities can no longer afford to give the media total freedom to choose their programmes. Between a return to censorship and total freedom there is room for solutions based on co-operation between the various social groups and the media. This is what more and more organisations in many countries are striving to achieve, particularly in the United States, France and Germany.