Nation-wide meeting in US
discusses impact of media violence on
BY A CORRESPONDENT
24 April, 2007: It was a very apt
time to hold a meeting of this kind as
the government officials and
entertainment industry officials from
across the United States gathered in
Indianapolis on the subject of
violence in the media and its impact
on children and crime.
Bart Peterson, Mayor of Indianapolis
and president of the National League
of Cities, which sponsored the event,
said at the meeting, held on April 17,
2007, that the bizarre killings at the
Virginia Tech University, which took
place a day before, may have no direct
connection to media violence.
But the gruesome incident certainly
provided a somber and urgent backdrop
for discussion about a
In recent years, Bart Peterson said,
our communities have witnessed far too
many incidents of extreme violence by
and against children and youth.
Certainly a number of factors
contribute to these disturbing trends,
but a prominent concern that is
increasingly capturing the attention
of both researchers and policymakers
is the heightened exposure of children
to graphic violence in video games,
television, movies and music, Peterson
The summit was inspired by Mayor
Peterson’s concern about violence in
media, especially in video games.
After taking office, he has been
pushing for a city ordinance
restricting the sale of violent video
games, but the ordinance was later
overturned by a federal appeals court.
A recent report by the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) said that children
under 18 are being exposed to violent
The aim of the gathering at
Indianapolis was to inspire a dialogue
and enhance awareness about media
violence in cities across the United
States. Mayor Peterson said government
regulation would not work because
courts will not uphold censorship.
Hence, Peterson said, more needs to be
done to promote self-regulation using
public pressure on the producers and
sellers of violent media.
Media experts said children are
exposed to an average of 6.5 hours of
television every day. By the time they
finish grade school, a child will have
seen about 8,000 killings on
television, according to a study by
the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Patricia Vance, president of the
Entertainment Software Rating Board,
said the industry’s self-regulation
efforts – like ratings, public
awareness campaigns and sales training
– are working to keep violent games
away from children.
However, David Koch, vice-president of
the non-profit Association for Family
Interactive Media, said he did not
believe the industry could regulate
itself any more than the tobacco
industry could. He said the industry
often sells the video games before
ratings are released.
The ratings system has been broken and
we need an independent board, David
A mother who attended the meeting said
she is often overwhelmed by the
choices and competing information
about entertainment products for her
two children, aged 17 and 10. “When
something happens, like what happened
at the Virginia Tech University, we
get together and shake our heads. What
we need is a discussion of the steps
we can take to empower ourselves as
parents,” she said.