Violence in the media is pervasive. The destructive influence of violent music videos, video games, music lyrics, the Internet, and television programs is absorbed daily by our children and youth and is directly linked to safety in schools and in our communities. A coalition from trustee, parent, teacher federation, principal and student organizations from both public and Catholic systems, has been working together to build effective strategies to confront the problem.
“There is no question that parents and professionals who work with children and adolescents are gravely concerned about the potential harmful effects of media violence,” said Dr. Peter Jaffe, professor at the Faculty of Education, Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children, University of Western Ontario. “Media Violence is increasing and becomes more graphic every year.”
Solutions to the problem of media violence and its consequences rest in large part in prevention and education. To that end, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation is sponsoring a conference titled When Violence Becomes Entertaining: Recapturing Childhood and Adolescence from the Toxic Influence of Violent Media which will be held from October 15 to 16 at the Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel, 655 Dixon Road. Registration for the the conference is now closed, but teachers representing every part of the province will be in attendance.The conference features key leaders in the areas of anti-bullying and violence prevention, safe schools and media literacy who will share their expertise and explore the common elements of these challenges. A variety of violence prevention strategies and programs will be explored. Teachers will be provided with resources, such as the recently released Safe@School resource, as well as other practical tools and skills specific to their grade/course/level.
• Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, former West Point Psychology professor and author
• Professor Craig Anderson, Chair of the Department of Psychology at Iowa State University
• A.R., a victim of Internet exploitation and S/Sgt. Robyn MacEachern
• Dr. Charles Tator, sports medicine specialist, and Ron Wicks, former NHL referee, discussing the promotion of violence in sports
• A panel discussion, facilitated by award-winning broadcast journalist Wendy Mesley, addressing the concerns of parents, students, activists, medical professionals, researchers, and law enforcement and education sectors
• A broad range of workshops to meet the varied needs and interests of participants, which may include teachers, administrators, trustees and parents
In my personal opinion, while I feel that such conferences are important, if said conference makes video games, television, and music part of the “violence problem” then representatives from the industry should also be invited to the exchange, yet in the conference agenda I don’t see anyone from the digital media industry taking part in any workshops or panels. I’ve listened to and watched many shows about kids and “screen time” yet not once has anyone from the development side been asked their opinions. While I am a firm believer in parental responsibility for the upbringing and instilling of values in children, I also feel that if the digital media industry is going to be the main scapegoat for “the problems with modern children” then it would only be right to have members of the development community speak out about usage ratings, experiences within their own families, and the thoughts and processes behind the development cycle – as well as the positive aspects behind games and other digital media. But that’s just my opinion – what’s yours?