In all but the shortest persuasive essays, make sure you respond to the most powerful or common objections to your position. This gives you credibility and allows you to persuade readers who take the time to think of objections to your argument. For example, they might say:
1. My personal experience watching violent television shows as a child contradicts your position, so I will reject it. After all, if violent television increased violence, we would all be violent.
2. The studies linking violent television to desensitization and suspicion are flawed. They represent events in the laboratory, where children respond to researchers' expectations.
3. Violent television provides entertainment, moral instruction (e.g., through the values displayed by violent heroes), employment, and other benefits that outweigh the risk they increase violence.
4. Our culture is saturated with violence, so reducing the amount in children's television will have no effect. In fact, it may leave them ill-prepared to deal with the violence they will encounter in media as they age.
5. Violent entertainment gives children an outlet for their aggression, so it actually reduces aggression.
I doubt you will have the space to answer all of these objections in detail, but you should at least respond to the ones you think your readers are most likely to make or to find persuasive.
Like your teacher, I would recommend narrowing your topic. This has several advantages:
1. You can spend more time reinforcing your argument, which will enable you to present it in a more compelling way. For example, you might be able to couple statistics and study results with real world examples.
2. Your information is more likely to be new to your reader, which should make it more interesting.
3. You'll have more time to respond to objections.
4. You'll have less research to do.
If you're worried you will not have enough to say, ask what questions readers might have about your topic. Considering the scary world syndrome, they might want to know:
1. What is the theory behind the scary world syndrome? In other words, how do violent television shows cause children to be suspicious about the world?
2. How have the theories' proponents supported it? Can they site real-world evidence and show that the scary world syndrome has a long-term effect?
3. Aside from increasing violence, what are the implications of the scary world syndrome? For example, does it affect children's ability to make friends, form close relationships with their family, or take risks (e.g., raising their hand to answer a question when they aren't sure of the answer) in front of others?
4. What do critics of the scary world syndrome theory say about it? How would you respond?
5. What should we do about scary world syndrome? Why is this the appropriate course of action?
6. Does your suggestion have any side benefits?
7. Does your suggestion have any disadvantages? If so, how would you respond?
You should also feel free to make your position more nuanced. For example, if there are situations where you consider violence acceptable or beneficial in children's television, you could discuss those situations.
In presenting readers' potential objections and topics you could discuss, I am not trying to discourage you from arguing against media violence or taking the stance in your initial outline. I am merely trying to show how much you can write about a narrow topic.
While it has been several years since I have researched media violence, I can offer at least three sources:
Craig A. Anderson, the director of the Center for the Study of Violence, who posts all of the articles he's published since 1995 on his website (psychology.iastate.edu/~caa);
Gerard Jones, who argues that violent entertainment gives children a much-needed sense of power, a way to socialize with their peers, and a much-needed break from reality involving worlds where the good guys always win;
Jeffrey H. Goldstein, a humanities professor who tries to understand why people find violent media entertaining and argues that many of the studies linking violent media to aggression ignore the distinction between actual aggression and play.
These sources focus on video games, but I suspect you can find people more interested in television by looking at the researchers they work with or cite.
If you have any questions or feedback on my feedback, let me know.