Head Teachers of 16 schools in Cheshire have made the news today by sending out letters to parents saying that they will be reported for letting their under-aged children play games that are not age appropriate. The games mentioned specifically were the 18-limited Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty which contain 'excessive violence' and allow players to e.g pick up prostitutes and use the controller to perform sexual acts.
This decision by the Head Teachers follows the ruling from David Cameron earlier this month that adults in positions of responsibility could face prison sentences of up to five years if they failed to report allegations of the neglect or abuse of children and Mary Hennessy Jones, the Head Teacher who drafted the letter to parents said:
"We are trying to help parents to keep their children as safe as possible in this digital era. It is so easy for children to end up in the wrong place and parents find it helpful to have some very clear guidelines."
Personally I would have thought the 18+ sign on the game was a pretty clear guideline already and I think it's a great, bold and brave move from these teachers - but it's easy for me to say as I'm still on the 'right' side of this problem: my children are 5 and 3 and my biggest struggle is giving the educational Wild Krats as much airtime as My Little Pony. For parents of older children this could create some real difficulty - not to mention the effect on Social Services, having to sift through perceived neglect through permissive parenting compared to actual neglect.
Most parents who have removed TV from their children's day will tell you how they've seen a marked improvement in behaviour - we went TV free for six weeks, and it was remarkable to see the difference - so I can empathise with teachers who have to spend most of the day with groups of children. It must be a very hard job dealing with inappropriate behaviour caused by inappropriate influences.
At the same time the thought of yet another government mandated intervention in the lives of otherwise normal families doesn't particularly sit well either. There's enough pressure on most parents just to keep a roof over our heads at the moment, without being policed inside our walls too.
Is playing these games a sign of a problem at home? Are they causing a problem in society? Do you let your child play games that are age restricted? And if so, can they watch movies that are age restricted too?
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