By: Stephen Duetzmann, Editor and Chief
The events in Slaughter, LA are shocking. An 8-year-old boy shot and killed his grandmother while she was watching television. He claimed it was an accident, but authorities have indicated that it was intentional. They belief that he may not have understood the consequences of his actions based on his age. Authorities also saw fit to mention that the boy was playing Grand Theft Auto IV in the police report.
This story is tragic. I find myself shaken by it all because my oldest son is almost 8, and imagining him in that situation is horrifying. It is heartbreaking to think that a little boy will have to live with these memories for the rest of his life.
The fact that the police linked Grand Theft Auto IV to the crime has set off the debate regarding violence in video games again. Look at the headlines to these articles on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, and Fox News. All of them mention GTA. None of them address the real concern: How was an 8-year-old boy able to gain access to a gun in the first place?
I’m not here to argue the gun control issue. Guns are a part of our culture and I don’t expect that to change (at least not based on anything I write here). I’m sure we might see a wide variety of opinions on guns themselves. But, I am pretty sure that we can ALL agree that an 8-year-old boy should not have been able to access a gun easily enough that he was able to shoot his caregiver while she was watching television. It feels like the focus has been turned onto the video game and away from that critical issue.
It is almost like we, as a society, have given up on the idea that we can keep guns out of the hands of children. It feels like we have decided that it is ok for parents to have guns in the house and not drill their children on the responsibility of gun use. The reality is that an 8-year-old boy is certainly old enough to understand that guns can hurt people and that shooting at another person is “bad.” But, they don’t automatically know those things. We need to teach them.
Right now worried parents are being encouraged to protect their kids by watching a video game release schedule as opposed to their guns. We are questioning a form of media as opposed to the people who are negligent in the care of their guns in the first place. It is just absurd.
As children develop and grow they can only learn about morally correct behavior through lessons, actions, and experiences from their primary caregivers. It is our job, as parents and caregivers, to educate our children about behaviors that are right or wrong and the consequences of their actions. It is our responsibility to teach our children, not just let their child play aimlessly. It is this lack of care and attention to aimless play that can lead to horrific consequences. Children need guidance and discussion to be taught the difference between fiction and reality. They need help to become aware of the actual consequences of their behavior. This is our job as engaged parents!
Please don’t blame the game. Think rationally and intelligently. We, as parents need to step up. Let’s ENGAGE!