Constant images of violence in films, computer games and online are desensitising youngsters to the reality of the outcomes of violence, a Catholic peace campaigner has warned.
Barry Mizen made his comments while supporting an assistant chief constable who raised concerns over images of knives seized by police being shared online.
Jackie Sebire, Bedfordshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, said she did not feel it was right for forces to share images of weapons seized during raids because it is traumatising teenagers and making them more likely to carry weapons themselves.
She told the recent Tackling Exploitation conference in Birmingham: “The debate at the moment is ‘do we share pictures of knives we’ve seen’.
“I don’t think it’s right… for me it drives the fear in young people.
“They may not be particularly vulnerable, but because they are surrounded by this fear, this narrative in the media that everybody is carrying a knife, they say, ‘well, I do need a knife’. And evidence has shown if they are carrying one they are much more likely to use it.”
Mr Mizen, of For Jimmy, welcomed ACC Sebire’s comments, saying she highlighted a serious issue. “I agree with her; we are influenced by the imagery we are subjected too,” Mr Mizen told The Catholic Universe.
But he believes the issues goes furtehr than just images of knives. “Young minds are bombarded with images of violence, whether by film or computer games, and this surely will desensitise the reality of the outcomes of violence,” he said.
Mr Mizen pointed out that in computer games even “the most extreme violence results in the victim getting up and running away seemingly unharmed”.
Mr Mizen also questioned so called ‘knife awareness programmes for schools’, which, he said include talks on the most dangerous of areas of the body to be stabbed.
“This cannot be the correct way of approaching the issues,” he said. “It can only lead to a young mind reasoning that it is okay to carry a knife so long as you don’t stab in certain parts of the body.”
In addition, the constant glorification of violence, whether images of knives or silhouetted pictures of gangs, does have an impact, and not the one we want.”
To find out more about For Jimmy see: forjimmy.org
Picture: A boy plays the violent video game ‘Call of Duty’. (Thomas Eisenhuth/DPA/PA).