Until May 30, in Montreal and through Quebec Province:
Montréal, April 23 2003. – Today, at Madeleine-de-Verchères elementary school, nine organisations from the education and health communities launch a campaign to counter TV violence, initiated by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM). The campaign will go until May 30 and reach the entire Quebec Province thanks to a partnership with the Quebec School Boards Federation, Parents Federation and Centrale des syndicats du Québec (teachers union). Other partners include Montreal Public Health Director, Quebec Medical Association, Quebec Order of Psychologists, Quebec Psychiatrics Association, Quebec Pediatrics Association and Committee for Social Affairs of the Quebec Bishops Assembly (Catholic).
The campaign to counter TV violence is part of the effort to prevent youth violence. It includes four aspects.
• A leaflet explaining the influence of TV violence and the importance of family government in child protection. It will be distributed to parents and students.
• Resolutions to support the campaign by various partners, specifying two requests from the federal government:
- banning of children’s programs from the public airwaves that show violence as an acceptable way to resolve conflict;
- delaying the broadcast of violent programs and movies until after 10:00 pm.
• Petition available to all citizens, parents of elementary school students and secondary school students.
• Media literacy activities for elementary and secondary school teachers to improve students’ critical viewing skills and freedom of expression.
A public health and security issue
Does TV influence children? According to all press conference participants, youth violence is increasing and TV is a major factor in the increase. The risks that it causes to an increasing number of children will have repercussions on the sense of security for all society. While invading their imagination and their leisure time, TV violence has an impact on children’s behaviour, and therefore, on the social climate in school, on kids’ learning environment and staff working environment.
In a report issued in February 2001, the Quebec Superior Council of Education agrees with the diagnosis. “Repeated exposure to media violence” is among the 3 major factors responsible for causing a 300% increase, over the last 15 years, of kids with troubled behaviours.
It is not the first time that the public has requested action from the federal government to govern the public airwaves in a more responsible manner. In 1989 and 1993, campaigns mobilized hundreds of thousands of people asking for government intervention. In 1994, broadcasters promised to self regulate. Result? Violence carried by Quebec privately-owned TV stations increased by 432%. In a survey conducted in 1999, 82% of the people favoured banning violence from children’s programs, while 85% agreed to the delay of violent movies and programs until after 10 PM.
Should we fear the return of censorship? No, introducing controls on TV violence does not interfere in artistic freedom. For example, when the industry making children’s beds is legislated regarding the distance between bars, who would argue that the maker’s artistic freedom is denied? Similarly, when hazardous substance carriers are forbidden from using tunnels or when car drivers are forced to slow down when traveling across school zones, is their freedom of travel denied?
A clear commitment from the federal government
This campaign offers parents pragmatic ways to help reduce the negative impact of TV violence on their children. It also helps schools to raise the issue with appropriate pedagogical tools. Finally, and most importantly, while helping parents and schools to prevent violence, it channels public opinion to obtain legislation from the federal government to protect children from TV violence.
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596-6118, extension 6117