Children tend to spend considerable time watching thriller movies and playing computer games. These activities seem like harmless fun, but are they really? Recent studies make us ask the question: “What makes children kill?” The question is terrible, but so are the cases being studied. For example, 16 year old Alan Pennell was found guilty of having stabbed Luke Walmsley to death in the hallway of their Lincolnshire high school. Pennell was a constantly bullied teenager who preferred “slasher” films and was known for picking on younger boys. Moreover, he had been given a police warning for punching other students in the face. He was tried in court as an adult for the murder of Walmsley and sentenced to life in prison. Another example of a violent youth is 17 year old Warren LeBlanc who admitted to killing his young friend, Stefan Pakeerah. He beat the boy to death after luring him to a Leicester park at night. LeBlanc suffered from the attacks of violence, as well. In addition, he was addicted to the computer game “Manhunt” in which the main “hero” slaughters a character he meets. He committed Pakeerah’s unbelievably violent murder in a way that reflects an episode from that terrible game. He attacked Pakeerah from behind and then beat him to death with a claw hammer and stabbed him with a knife. These teenagers are two of the many young people in the latest trend of violence influenced by movies and computer games. The Supreme Courts of California, Florida, and Texas say that this trend is spreading quickly across the United States.
“We are dealing with a new kind of childhood criminal. They are starting younger, and they know what they are doing. They won’t think twice about killing”, says Florida State District Attorney Adam Emmitt. Unfortunately, violence is becoming a serious problem in many schools. Knife fights have become such a common problem that x-ray devices are being installed at school gates. However, using technological devices is not enough to overcome this problem. The low rate of moral standards is the real social issue. Mass media sources, like computer games, films and soap operas, illustrate to children false standards for behavior by producing the impression that cruelty, violence, and sexual indulgence are acceptable. It is obvious that such anti-social behaviors as illustrated in the Manhunt computer game are unacceptable. Their influence is extremely negative, and they should be banned. The major issue is that they penetrate the psyche of children and teenagers, pushing them in the wrong direction. Both Pennell and LeBlanc were miserable teenagers from unhappy backgrounds. Pennell’s mother died in a drunk-driver accident when he was 6 yrs. old and his father, who worked as a delivery driver, often left him on his own. These details indicate that unfavorable circumstances and the lack of mass media censorship may contribute to acts of teenage violence. The government must introduce more restrictions to control the messages to young people transmitted via entertainment media. Apart from that, if we want to prevent further tragedies, we must be diligent by keeping an eye on such neglected children. Otherwise, our indifference may lead to failure for their future wellbeing and an irreversible decrease of moral standards. In addition, it may cost other innocent lives.
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