COLUMN: 'Call of Duty' doesn't create criminals
News organizations speculate James Holmes — prime suspect in the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting — was mimicking a Batman villain and modeling his actions after that fictional character. Like clockwork, newspapers and reporters flocked to the old idea that today’s entertainment breeds intense violence. In today’s world, it is highly common to see violence on television, in movies and while playing video games. Though it seems the news only reports violence and violent movies always top the box offices, these media forms aren't the only culprits — children aren't predisposed to being violent simply by watching movies or playing video games.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explains that “many of the most popular games emphasize negative themes and encourage the killing of people or animals, the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, criminal behavior, disrespect for authority and the law, sexual exploitation and violence toward women, racial and sexual stereotypes, foul language, obscenities, and obscene gestures.”
Personally, I don’t think today's children are as impressionable as the news lets on. Everyone from CNN Health to our state’s lawmakers believe the video games and movies this generation’s children are experiencing are far too violent and lead to real-world violence.
This is where I must disagree.
I don’t believe playing a video game or watching a television show will cause a child to be pushed so far over the edge to the point that he would harm or take the life of another human being. Video games and movies just don’t do that.
First, children shouldn’t be playing these violent games or watching overly violent movies to begin with. Both media areas have intense rating systems that keep kids from experiencing violence they are too young to see. They are put into place for the very reason of keeping them from emotional trauma. If kids are playing video games that are rated M (Mature) or AO (Adults Only), someone had to buy it for them. If kids are watching R-rated movies, someone over 18 bought their ticket. I’m not here to question parenting in any form. I had parents who did both things for me on multiple occasions. However, if someone is worried about a child’s mental state, that person should not allow the child to see forms of entertainment that could put his or her mental state in danger.
For my second point, I’d like to point toward military action as an example. Since the beginning of time, war has raged across the world. Today in America, almost 200,000 soldiers still remain in Iraq alone. According to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder researchers, 70 percent of adults in the United States have suffered an extreme traumatic event and 20 percent of those adults end up developing PTSD (close to 32 million people).
Twenty percent of the soldiers who’ve been deployed in the past six years have PTSD — more than 300,000 soldiers — according to HealmyPTSD.com.
With that in mind, we must examine how rarely these soldiers commit acts of violence similar to the massacre in the Colorado theater. When I went to research said acts, few could be found.
So, my question is this: How is it that children and young adults are prone to severe and devastating violence while soldiers, who have experienced real-world and first-hand violence, are able to avoid committing that violence? What reason is there for the difference in behavior?
The answer? There isn’t a reason.
I’m not a scientist, so I’m not sure of the true reasons that children act in such violent ways, but it is entirely illogical to say that it is because of media violence.
Children don’t experience real-world violence, and they really shouldn’t be watching violent movies or playing violent video games to begin with.
It takes an incredible break from sanity to take another person’s life, so if you think that a child can be lowered to that level only because he played the newest "Call of Duty" video game installment, you are seriously mistaken.
Ty Johnson is a letters and music sophomore.