CAP is concerned at the violence that seems to be taking root in our society and manifesting itself in various ugly forms. Transgressions that are perpetrated these days rivet the attention of the nation by their innovation and sheer brutality.
It is all the more disturbing when youngsters are involved. These children seem to be getting increasingly vicious – finding new ways to inflict pain on their peers, teachers and parents. Even teenagers and those in their early twenties are being detained for crimes such as assaults, murder and rape.
How are these youngsters learning these forms and degrees of violence? Is it from observing their parents, teachers and other role models? Is the intensity of violence increasing because perpetrators themselves are routinely being exposed to escalating violence – either directly or through movies, cartoons, video games, wrestling shows, the Internet and by personally participating in other violent recreational activities?
Cases of domestic violence and child abuse are on the increase, and children may be learning forms of violence in the home. Teachers can also sometimes be bullies – setting themselves up as poor role models for their charges.
Some years back, CAP raised concerns that in the East Coast, some children as young as eight years old were being allowed to participate in freestyle kickboxing championships. They were incessantly cheered on by the crowd while punching and kicking each other. One of the children was nicknamed Baby Face Assassin.
Last year, it was reported that Thai authorities have banned a computer video game known as Grand Theft Auto. Copies of this game were taken off shop shelves following an incident where a disturbed teenager allegedly killed a taxi driver in a copycat crime. At that time, CAP called on the authorities to ban violent video games.
In early 2006, a study by the University of Missouri-Columbia in the US has shown that there is a link between violent video games and aggression.
A form of brain activity named the P300 response, which reflects the emotional impact of an image on a viewer, was measured in 39 experienced video game players. The researchers from the University found that people who played violent video games had a diminished brain response when shown images of real-life violence. (Video games have previously been used to prepare soldiers for scenes of combat. When game players were given the chance to punish a pretend opponent in separate games, those with the most reduction in P300 brain reactions gave out the most severe punishments).
A private TV station airs a series which shows graphic details of violent crimes – giving ideas to people on new and innovative ways to cause pain to others. If you think it is all right to switch to this station’s other channels featuring sports, animals or history, you may want to reconsider. The trailers of programmes with violent scenes or scenes where people speak rudely and show scant respect for others regularly surface during the commercial slots of these programmes . This leaves very few options of “safe” viewing for children, even among the popular general-interest educational programmes that this private station broadcasts daily.
Installing CCTVs in schools, as suggested by some parties, will not solve the problem of violence or cases of abuse in schools, not to mention the immense costs that will be incurred.
CAP calls on the authorities to take steps to limit youngsters’ exposure to violence. Children should not be allowed into video arcades to play violent games. Movies, videos, cartoons and commercials should be screened for violent content and banned where necessary. Cases of child abuse and domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated and the causes determined and addressed. Last but not least, parents and teachers have to play their roles responsibly and effectively.
There are no easy solutions, but concrete action must be taken on all fronts.