The Daily Telegraph has run an article today providing comments from Andrew Scipione, the Police Commissioner for New South Wales.
In it, the Commissioner expresses his concern about kids’ exposure to violent media, saying that there was “nothing more potentially damaging than the sort of violence they’re being exposed to, be it in movies, be it in console games they’re playing.”
This runs contrary to studies which demonstrate clear links between societal issues including depressive symptoms, negative relationships with adults, domestic violence and neighbourhood problems, while showing no link between violent video games and subsequent aggression.
Scipione continues: “How can it not affect you if you’re a young adolescent growing up in an era where to be violent is almost praiseworthy, where you engage in virtual crime on a daily basis and many of these young people (do) for hours and hours on end?”
The answers to this question can be found in this study, which conducts a meta-analysis of research and finds no evidence to suggest that games lead to increased aggression, this study, which demonstrates a greater link between violence and aggression in television than videogames, and this study, which describes the reasons some studies have suggested otherwise.
Scipione offered further commentary on modern games, concluding: “You get rewarded for killing people, raping women, stealing money from prostitutes, driving cars, crashing and killing people.”
“That’s not going to affect the vast majority but it’s only got to affect one or two and what have you got? You’ve got some potentially really disturbed young person out there who’s got access to weapons like knives or is good with the fist, can go out there and almost live that life now in the streets of modern Australia. That’s concerning.”
“… the thing that’s concerning me is the prevalence of people who are at this stage not just prepared to carry a knife, but prepared to use it, that has increased significantly.”
Scipione does not state which research he is pointing to which demonstrates the rise in people prepared to use knives.
UPDATE: News.com.au, a Daily Telegraph affiliate, has posted a follow-up article which contains an interview with Dr Christopher Ferguson, where Scipione’s claims were refuted as being ‘irresponsible’ due to ignoring longer-term trends in crime which indicate a general decrease, as well Dr Jeffrey Brand, who noted that Scipione had ignored several recent studies on the issue (some of which are outlined above).
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