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EDITIONS
Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
TV soaps 'help family harmony'
Little Mo hits Trevor with an iron in EastEnders
Violence is a regular feature of modern soaps
Soap operas help parents broach difficult issues with their children and help families support each other, a survey has suggested.

Dramatic storylines about family crises can help young people understand family life, according to the National Family and Parenting Institute (NFPI).

But most parents also believe that families on shows like EastEnders and Coronation Street bear little resemblance to those in real life.

Brookside
Brookside was among the soaps studied
And 80% of parents surveyed said too much sex, violence, infidelity and alcohol abuse meant soaps did not portray the family in a positive light.

Coronation Street contained the most broken families and single people, according to the survey.

EastEnders was filled with scenes of "serious" conflict, which often led to physical violence.

The two soaps are the most popular shows on UK television, pulling combined audiences of 25 million - almost half the UK population.

"Parents do not bring up their children in isolation, and the media has a huge effect on what they feel, believe and fear," NFPI chief executive Mary MacLeod said.

"This is the first time that British soaps have been looked at from the perspective of the family and asking what the portrayal of family life is saying to parents and children."

Two out of three parents said soaps helped children understand family life, while 60% said they helped families support each other.

Burdens

The NFPI study looked at four soap operas - EastEnders, Coronation Street, Brookside and The Archers.

It found that children were usually in the background or referred to as burdens or worries.

It also said no show gave a sense of cultural diversity despite the presence of characters from ethnic minorities.

People with disabilities and gay men were under-represented and lesbians and bisexuals were ignored, it found.

The findings came six months after another survey raised concerns about the effects of storylines on vulnerable viewers.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Soap operas
Do they reflect real life?
 VOTE RESULTS
Do soaps mirror real life?

Yes
 10.37% 

No
 89.63% 

3298 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

30 Jul 02 | Education
09 May 02 | Entertainment
16 Oct 02 | Entertainment
10 Oct 02 | Entertainment
30 Sep 02 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Entertainment
06 Apr 01 | Education
13 May 01 | Health
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