Children are exposed to too much violence in the media.
This news flash is brought to us by a coalition of parents and teachers, who want bolder warnings and tougher laws, preventing television and radio stations from airing certain content until late at night and restricting the sale of violent video games…
While others blame the influence of entertainment, some are putting the blame squarely on the parents.
But the focus is on this group and what they’re advocating. They want ways to regulate the internet so that kids aren’t accessing violent sites. The example cited is:
In September, a violent webpage was in the spotlight after Kimveer Gill went on a shooting spree at Montreal's Dawson College, killing a student and injuring about 20 others before killing himself. His online life featured hate-filled and violent writings as well as the glorification of guns.
Last January, cab driver Tahir Khan was killed when his taxi was T-boned in Toronto by a car allegedly involved in a street race. Police said they found a copy of the popular video game Need For Speed next to one of the young drivers now facing charges in the case.
I would like to point out that Kimveer Gill was not a youth. Just how extensive do they want these laws to be? Should they regulate content for adults too?
There’s something else in there that automatically concerns me. Some of the things the group is after include:
Among the measures the group called for are:
- Changing the Criminal Code's public incitement of hatred laws so girls and women are protected.
- Amending the Broadcasting Act to establish "a watershed hour" of 9 p.m. for radio and television stations to limit the violent programming seen by young people.
- Having provincial governments legislate an age-based classification system for recorded music similar to one that exists for films, music videos and video games.
It’s the first one that strikes a nerve with me. What about protections against the hatred of men?
I am always conflicted when I hear about these movements, prompted by studies, for a variety of reasons. First of all, I doubt television programs were responsible for influencing the Crusades. Did the Vikings rape and pillage because they’d played Grand Theft Auto on X-box? I think not.
Truth is, violence has been around since the dawn of time. The Bible is one of the most violent books out there.
Do I think that children should have access to violent games and TV programs? No. But I also believe that what is forbidden is so much more tempting. I was always allowed to drink alcohol at home as a child. I remember being probably all of 6 – I do remember exactly where I was – when I had my first taste of beer. And I didn’t turn into a drunk. In fact, I almost got charged bringing back some alcohol from the UK in July because I had no idea what the regulations were. We seldom have any alcohol in the house. It just isn’t a big deal to me.
Now, that approach might not work for someone else, but I think it underscores the fact that access does not prompt unreasonable influence in every case out there. And I do believe that anyone disturbed enough to listen to a song a few dozen times and then go on a killing spree would have found something, eventually, to trigger them. So many people I know won’t even read the news because of how violent it is.
The debate has come up from time to time about rating books. I mocked the topic back here, months ago. But groups like this one do raise some automatic concerns in my mind: where will it stop? If someone raises issues with a book they believe promotes violence will we start seeing stickers on books, or have shelves up high in bookstores with the books wrapped so kids can’t see?
What about all of the issues around Islam in our culture today? I completely disagree with judging this religion on the basis of the actions of a few people, but that doesn’t change the fact that some are using the Koran as the basis for committing violent acts. The Bible certainly helped incite the Crusades.
Will there be a day when religious books are banned because of the risks they might incite violence? Will we find ourselves facing a Fahrenheit 451 future where books are banned outright because they’re too hard to regulate and it’s easier to control other forms of entertainment?
Having worked with children, I can say with certainty that racing cars and performing wild stunts is something that comes into the equation long before kids are playing video games. Watch how children play and you will see physical acts of aggression from the toddler ages. Not all kids, some kids.
And my initial instinct is to say we have enough laws in place. That instead of looking to blame elsewhere we need to start addressing the root issues in our society. More kids from broken homes, more kids who don’t get proper parenting. From my own experience I remember kids age 11 telling me about their weekend, staying up with Dad until midnight and watching South Park. Dad so desperate to make his limited weekend time positive he approached his child like a buddy instead of being a parent.
And I’ve seen that from mothers too.
I think there are bigger fish to fry. I think the groups just don’t go after it because the one “god-given right” we entitle everyone to is to be a parent if you can reproduce, as long as you don’t hurt your kid. We’re usually pretty good up here, north of the 49th, when it comes to staying out of bedrooms and parenting philosophies.
Maybe it’s time for that to change. What do you guys think?
Any my apologies for not being around yesterday on the comment trail much. I was having a very long conversation with someone who needed to do some jaw exercises. I may have a plan but I dread that phone bill!