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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Violence - Who is responsible?

The inspiration for this post comes from the recent proposal to add a 1% tax on violent video games. Before I discuss my opinion on violent video games I would like to discuss violent behavior in children and adolescents.

Children as young as preschoolers have been known to show violent behavior and there are a number of factors that could contribute and/or increase this risk. This violent behavior in children and adolescents can include a wide range of behaviors: explosive temper tantrums, physical aggression, fighting, threats, use of weapons, cruelty towards animals, and intentional destruction of property. There may be more, but, from the top of my head these are the main concerns. Each of these behaviors I have witnessed at some point in children as young as 4 years old. Some may even develop violent behavior at an earlier age.

This violent behavior could result from a number of different factors. It may be caused by 1 complex interaction or a numerous combination of factors. This may include:

  • Being the victim of physical or sexual abuse
  • Exposure of violence in the home and/or community
  • Genetic (family heredity) factors
  • Exposure to violence in media (TV, movies, video games, etc.)
  • A combination of stressful feelings (poverty, severe deprivation, marital breakup, single parenting, loss of support from family, etc.)
  • Brain damage from head injury
  • Birth defects
  • Health problems

Now, to discuss video games and their impact/influence on children and adolescents. I do agree that violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, etc. may impact a child/adolescents brain in negative ways. But, all forms of media can have this same influence, even most children's cartoons contain some sort of violence. For the Government to blame violence on guns and video games is just plain ignorant. I believe the parents of these children should be to blame. The only way these children can obtain these video games are if their parent or someone over the age of 17 purchases it for them. I, myself, play Call of Duty online and I can't tell you how many children play this game that are as young as 8 years old. If your child/children are showing warning signs of violent behavior you need to monitor the viewing of violent media. If you don't step up and be a PARENT, you have no one to blame but yourself. I grew up playing these video games, as did my little brothers and we didn't turn out violent. 

Why add an extra 1% tax on violent video games? Well, the States that are proposing these taxes say the purpose is to "fund treatment for mental health conditions associated with exposure to violent video games." But, this tax does not apply just to violent video games, it also applies to games such as Dance Central and Guitar Hero. According to the Bill, violent video games are defined as any game containing an ESRB rating of Teen (T) or Mature (M). 

Here is where the problem lies with this tax proposal. How do you come to the conclusion that these mental health conditions resulted from playing violent video games? These conditions could result from any of the factors that I previously stated. Yes, this tax, if passed, will go to a good cause. But, I believe that violent video games are being singled out as one of the major causes of violence. It's time to step up and stop putting the blame on video games and guns, and take responsibility for ourselves and children. Humans begin to differentiate right from wrong in most cases by 7 years old. We usually begin to make judgements based on this sense of right and wrong by age 9, in some cases younger or older. According to the legal system, children have the ability to tell right from wrong by age 15 (depending on the state you live in) so if they commit a crime, they will be held responsible for their actions. 

So, my question to you is, how come video games and guns are being blamed for violence and the individual themself aren't being held responsible for their actions?

Please think about this and comment. I would like to hear your opinions!

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