In March of this year Peter Brown Hoffmeister posted a blog titled “On School Shootings – the Huffington Post Doesn’t Want you to Read This”. In his post Mr. Hoffmeister begins by explaining how he was a troubled teen who took weapons to school, then moves on to the assumption that the reason he never killed anyone with those weapons was because he didn’t have violent video games to prepare him like several of the recent school shooters did. He says:
“I’m not suggesting that everyone who plays a video game will act out that video game in reality. But I am saying that it is very dangerous to allow troubled, angry, teenage boys access to killing practice, even if that access is only virtual killing practice. The military uses video games to train soldiers to kill, yet we don’t consider “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ training for addicted teenage players? A high school boy who plays that game 30 hours per week isn’t training to kill somebody?”
He’s wrong and he’s just one more person jumping on the band wagon placing blame on something else rather than taking responsibility. He even contradicts himself by laying out the examples of his weapon obsessed, teenage self carrying weapons to school. He never played the violent video games, but those thoughts and urges were there.
Once again someone is looking to place the blame of a societal problem on one thing. McDonald’s isn’t the reason we’re obese and Call of Duty isn’t the reason we have school shooters. But it’s not video games that that promote and provoke such problems. It’s people who have repeatedly failed students and won’t take responsibility for it. Adults need to take more responsibile. It starts with bad parenting. Followed by teachers who don’t notice and don’t care.
It’s a basketball coach who physically and emotionally abuses star players. How do you think he treats those with less athletic ability in gym class?
It’s teachers who mock and throw students out of class for having differing political or religious opinions from them.
It’s an entire society built upon idolizing those who are pretty and more talented all while we ostracize and ridicule those who can’t live up to those standards followed by glorifying those who reflect poor decisions. If video games are a problem, why not include cable television? How about popular shows like Breaking Bad and Teen Mom? Where’s the blame for teen drug use and teen pregnancy?
School shootings are a reminder of the condition of society to alienate and judge others. It started long before video games or TV even existed. There were nearly 150 school shootings in the United states prior to 1990 when first-person shooter games starting coming out. The earliest was in 1760 in Pennsylvania. The worst school massacre recorded was in 1927 where a lone man milled his wife, blew up his house, then bombed a school. 45 were killed, more than Newtown and Columbine combined.
I would argue that in many instances video games may even dispel many more shootings by providing an outlet for frustrated, angst driven teens who would love to carry a hammer to school in the hope of bludgeoning someone like Mr. Hoffmeister did. Video games are the social interaction and outlet that so many of those ostracized teens need. They have a whole new online world where they can interact hundreds of millions of like minded individuals and be praised for achievements. Their KDR is their A in Chemistry. I’ve witnessed first-hand in hosting LAN parties where the quietest and socially awkward teens suddenly come alive with excitement and are applauded by their peers for accomplishments.
I’ll agree that video games are a waste of time. I have stacks of books I want read, household projects I need to accomplish and exercise I should be having. And I know plenty of students who are game obsessed and can’t function outside of an online game situation. But you can’t just unplug a kid and expect him to never feel angry and to fit in perfectly with everyone around him.
People don’t need excuses, they need responsibility. They need teachers and adults setting proper example and giving them an ideal toward which they can strive. I won’t support a bill to investigate or even ban video game violence because it’s just a crutch that hides the real problem. What I will support is any legislation that reduces the amount of money we spend on senators sitting around trying to figure out who to blame instead of putting that money in our schools, libraries, and playgrounds. I’ll support anything that better trains and equips teachers to be true role models and gives them the funds to start after school programs to help teens socialize. All our money shouldn’t go to the few who exhibit special talents. Quit blaming and do something. And to his credit Mr. Hoffmeister does that through his outdoor education program.
Wikipedia – List of School Shootings