Grand Theft Auto Used To Steer Children Away From Violence? That's New

Grand Theft Auto, often the whipping-boy for the anti-violent video games movement, is being used by a program in Merseyside, England to help stop children becoming desensitised to violence. Welcome to Bizarro world.

Whenever the subject of violent video games arises, Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto franchise seems to be the go-to example of a game that can seriously harm children playing it, altering their brain meats until they are seething masses of aggression and hate - and I'm only exaggerating slightly here.

So excuse me if the fact that the Get Real project in Merseyside is using images from the series to help teach children the harsh reality of swinging about stabbing or shooting people.

The program, backed by a £15,000 ($24,693) grant, is the result of collaboration between the Merseyside branch of Support After Murder and Manslaughter and the Merseyside Police. Images from Grand Theft Auto, along with The Simpsons' Itchy and Scratchy and Bugs Bunny cartoons, are placed on a series of cards, which educators use to provoke discussions on the real consequences of violent actions.

While some parents objected to the display of images from Grand Theft Auto to primary school children, Support After Murder and Manslaughter branch chairman Gaynor Bell explains there are methods behind this madness.

"They (children) see violence so often in their daily lives that they are desensitized to it and cannot really appreciate the consequences of picking up a hatchet and swinging it around. This is all about showing them that if they put a knife in someone, that person will die and they will end up in jail. It is getting the message over to them about what's real and what isn't."

And Mrs Gaynor certainly knows the difference, having set up the group after one of her sons was stabbed to death and another was killed after being hit by a car.

"The kids these days are just getting worse and worse and I blame the mums and dads. They just don't teach their kids respect any more. They don't teach them what's right and what's wrong which is exactly what we're trying to do with this programme."

These are sentiments I've personally echoed time and time again, so I certainly feel this endeavour is a noble one.

Not everyone agrees.

Margaret Morrissey, from campaign group Parents Outloud, said it was "inappropriate' to show certain images in primary schools as many parents had been "conscious not to allow their children to see these things and are trying to protect them until they are old enough to cope".

I always figured that was one of the things parents did; helping their children cope with overwhelming things until they were old enough to handle it on their own. I didn't realise that children ripened like fruit on trees, and one day some sort of fantastical 'Cope Capable' meter would pop up, letting us know when they're done.

Well that's certainly a load off my mind.

Grand Theft Auto used to turn children against crime []


    nico belic helps with my math homework ... 3 magazines .. thats 90 rounds!

    It actually makes sense. But what about Crackdown? You don't WANT to kill civilians, because if you do, you lose EXP, and the cops come to kill you.

      That would actually be pretty funny to watch. Ramp up the conciquences and see how long till they rage. But give them candy if they go 10 minutes without wrong doings. Also give them grenades, god i love virtual grenades XD

    "... I blame the mums and dads. They just don’t teach their kids respect any more. They don’t teach them what’s right and what’s wrong..."


    "The kids these days are just getting worse and worse..."
    Every generation says this about the generation that follows. If each generation was correct in their assessment of younger generations, our society would have descended into a chaotic and apocalyptic world many hundreds of years ago.

    I think it's more likely that people forget what sh!tty youths they were and that society has improved over the decades.

    So, games are the entire problem and not say, the news media which seems to think someone dying violently is worth five minutes of our time? People are notoriously good at not observing things they see as part of their common world and because parents have the capacity to be suddenly shocked by violence in games, they get morally outraged. I don't see the same level of outrage against discussions of violence on TV or in the papers or on talkback radio for that matter, somehow that's all acceptable to society because of course we understand how all that stuff works, we've grown up with it.

    Except our parents didn't grow up with the TV, newspapers, radio or games we did, they had completley different ideologies pushed by their presenters and most of the things we find commonplace in a news report would have been profoundly shocking twenty or thirty years ago. Society changes and "somebody think of the children" has taken on a different meaning than it did when it began as a kind of movement, pretty much in Victorian times when childhood was invented as a thing rich kids were allowed to be inulged through.

    I don't think this provides any sort of argument for censorship, either. Censoring an aspect of the modern world is more like saying "I can't deal with explaining this to a child, so I will make sure they never have to see it" than an actual force for their protection. Children are curious about anything they can find and it is natural they will find certain concepts before parents are ready to discuss or explain them. If indeed the authority figures in those kids' lives are ever ready to commit to such a thing.

    I don't know that kids are actually getting worse, what is getting worse is how much coverage without adequate discussion we give to violence and other forms of potentially objectionable material like sex. Kids have more access to information than they've ever had before and authority figures want to be able to control that without realising the best way is to find a way of discussing that with kids and helping them decide what's moral. Ignoring the problem doesn't make it disappear and I'm glad to see people finally using cartoons and games to interact with kids on what are often very difficult concepts to deal with because of the mixed messages we receive about them.

    Is violence cool? No, it isn't. Is it often portrayed that way in an attempt to market another idea to an adult audience which kids often watch anyway? Yes, but we can't deal with the repercussions of that well enough. Go anyone willing to do a decent job of it like these people.

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