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Some Governments Try to Curb Youth’s Video Violence on Web

 

Crampton, Thomas (2 March, 2007). “Some Governments Try to Curb Youth’s Video Violence on Web” The Boston Globe.

 

 

Overview:

According to Thomas Jaeger of Visionary, an Internet portal on bullying and school violence in Europe, “We are only now learning about the problems brought by the Internet and how to deal with them.” Even though companies such as Google Video and YouTube claim to do all in their power to purge their sites of undesirable material, many government and school officials no longer leave this security issue up to them.

 

The Australian state of Victoria, following a recent incident in which a video of male students assaulting a teenage girl aired on YouTube, has banned the use of the site in its schools. The French Parliament, in an effort to respond to the growing prevalence of “happy slapping”  (videoing random attacks on people) videos on the net, passed a law to treat those who film and upload such acts as equally guilty with those who commit the attacks. In the U.S. Washington state senators have sought to place electronic forms of harassment on a par with physical acts, reports Crampton.

 

Though not all video sites can be thoroughly surveyed to root out such displays, governments are applying pressure to site hosts to curb there presence more aggressively. Italian and British prosecutors, for example, have pressured Google to do just this on the heels of several incidents of videoed bullying. According to Phillipe Houllou, a law-maker in the French National Assembly, “This video-based violence is a new form of juvenile delinquency that is spreading” and “Behavior that causes such public damage to the victims deserves to be considered criminal.” Moreover, in France, those who receive and post violent videos are liable to serve prison times and pay steep fines.

 

Judith Hilgers, a sociologist at the University of Trier in Germany, places little stock in such efforts. “By trying to stop children from having mobile phones or using certain websites,” says Hilgers, “these authority figures will only drive them underground.”

 

 

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

 

1.      Has your child/teens you work with viewed adolescent violence on the Internet?

 

2.      Do you believe the opportunity to upload such videos readily encourages such violence?

 

3.      Should schools/libraries allow students the free time to look up videos on the internet? How could this be controlled in a reasonable way?

 

4.      What are the laws in your area concerning video-displayed violence? Are those involved prosecuted for criminal behavior?

 

 

Implications:

Because the Internet is typically hailed as a valuable technological resource, its potentially destructive effects on human life and habits often come as a surprise. Events on the Internet may seem to be ‘virtual,’ but, especially in cases of violence, the outcome is all too real. The challenge for parents and counselors is to help young people learn to apply the brakes before the virtual world takes violent turns.