4. The Silent Partners

4.2 Video Kids

"If the proverb is true that prison is a college for crime, I believe for young disturbed adolescents, TV is a preparatory school for delinquency".

Ralph S. Banay, testimony before U.S. Senate, 1956, in Richard D. MacCann, Film and Society, 1964.

There is growing evidence that exposure to violent media programming may be a causal factor in violence [10]. Citizens of ancient Rome had the coliseum to satisfy an escalating appetite for violence. Canadians simply have to turn on the television or go to the video store and movie theatre.

Explicit violence has become a common theme in entertainment which targets children and young adults. In urban areas of Canada and the United States, virtually the only information children obtain about firearms is the murderous gunplay graphically portrayed on television and in the cinema.

The average Canadian and American child watches 8,000 homicides and 100,000 acts of violence on television before completing the sixth grade [11]. Surveys of young violent criminals in the United States found that 22%-34% had imitated crime techniques they had viewed on television [12].

The cinema is no better. A glance at the movie listings in any major newspaper will find at least 25% of the movie advertising depicting someone with a gun, usually poised for violence.

Evolving "virtually reality" computer game technology will offer children and young adults the opportunity to experience killing in simulations made as realistic as possible.

The Canadian government prohibits the legal and responsible ownership of automatic weapons but allows our children to watch "entertainment" where Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger cut people in half with machine guns. It would certainly appear reasonable to require the entertainment industry in Canada to comply with the very same gun laws law-abiding Canadians must obey.

"Movies have a surface realism which tends to disguise fantasy and makes it sem true... It is this quality of realness which makes the escape into the world of movies so powerful, bringing with it conscious and unconscious absorption of the screenplay's values and ideas."

Hortense Powerdermaker, 1950, in Richard D. MacCann, Film and Society, 1964.

In a country with 21 million firearms it is irresponsible to assume that "gun controls" will prevent children from having access to guns. Our society's increasing failure to educate young Canadians in responsible firearm use, under the supervision of responsible and properly trained adults, will create a public health catastrophe equal to the epidemic of gun-related violence many American cities have created for themselves. Restrictive firearm licensing and prohibitions, combined with television and cinema programming which continues to glamorize and profit from firearm violence, will accomplish nothing but to suppress a visible culture of responsible gun ownership.