Urgent Need to Decrease Television Violence

 

There is no doubt that the exposure to television violence exerts an influence on all children. It will not transform every child into a criminal, and it is not the sole factor influencing children. However, all studies lead to the same conclusion: the risks to which an ever increasing number of children are exposed, will one day have repercussions on the quality of life and the sense of safety experienced by society as a whole.

 

In this context, the signatory organizations invite all citizens to support requests to the Federal Government aimed at regulating violence offered to children by TV.

 

The present campaign also aims to supply parents with practical means to interact with their children on that matter.

 

Past Events

 

The first Quebec campaign against TV violence occurred in 1989. It carried two requests:

 

The decision to organize this campaign was taken in reaction to the increase of violence in North America during previous years. Actually, between 1962 and 1989, violent crimes in Canada increased  by  400%. During the same period, cultural products (such as TV, toys, videogames, music) from the United States carried a tremendous increase in the incitement to violence.

 

From the start, popular artists known to advocate for freedom of expression supported the campaign. Indeed, the issue here has nothing to do with censorship. Adults who want to watch movies depicting heavy violence could easily record them on VCR or rent them from video stores. The two proposed measures are aimed only at safeguarding children’s mental health. Had they been implemented, they would have sent a clear message on the issue of television violence, similar to measures targeting tobacco.

 

The campaign resulted in nearly 200,000 people signing a petition. It ended barely two weeks before the École polytechnique slaughter. The petition finally got a very significant meaning once it became known that the perpetrator of the slaughter was an avid viewer of violent films.

 

Thereafter, in the Spring of 1990, the communications minister, Marcel Masse, mandated the president of the CRTC, Keith Spicer, to convene a table of negotiators, including the management of Quebec television channels and petition representatives. Discussions lasted one year and concluded with mixed results. On one side, TVA removed from its program list such series as G.I. Joe. However, it was not possible to reach agreement on a general policy. It should be noted that nearly all the targeted programs originated from the United States.

 

In 1993, after the murder of her younger sister, thirteen-year-old Virginie Larivière took up the issue and, this time, gathered 1.5 million signatures, across Canada.

 

Faced with such a tidal wave, Prime Minister Mulroney promised to act. He invited television channels to self-regulate. Foreign experiments had, however, proved that such an approach would not succeed.

 

A self-regulatory code was, in fact, instituted by the networks in 1994.

 

A Campaign for 2003

 

Recently, two professors from Laval University published a report proving that, following the adoption of the self-regulatory code, violence carried by privately owned networks had increased by 432%. These results illustrate once more that Canadians cannot depend on broadcasters’ good will to reduce television violence.

 

It is urgent to take action and, this time, obtain permanent regulations to assist parents and schools in preventing violence.

 

We therefore invite all organisations and management boards to adopt a resolution requesting the Government of Canada to regulate violence on television.

 

Asking the Canadian Government to act is not enough, the “family government” can also take action. We therefore offer pragmatic advice to parents wishing to intervene on that issue with their children at the following address:

http://www.csdm.qc.ca/pv/televiolence/documents/flyerTVViolence.pdf

 

In summary, all social actors must mobilize to protect our children against this ever increasing incitement to violence. What are we indeed doing to our children, flooding the airwaves with violent programs at times when they are watching television?

 

 

Robert Cadotte

President, Pedagogical Commission

Commission scolaire de Montréal

 

André Caron,

President

Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec

 

Diane Miron

President

Fédération des comités de parents du Québec

 

Alain Pélissier

Secretary Treasurer

Centrale des syndicats du Québec

 

Rose-Marie Charest

President

Ordre des psychologues du Québec

 

Dr Yves Lamontagne

President

Collège des médecins du Québec

 

Dr Pierre Gaudreault, president

Dr Dominique Cousineau, spokesperson

Association  of Quebec Paediatricians

 

Dr Richard Lessard,

Director

Direction de prévention et de santé publique de Montréal-Centre

 

Michel Turcotte, President

Marcel Renou, Vice-President

Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation et des psychoéducateurs et psychoéducatrices du Québec

 

Louis Beaulieu

Chief Executive Officer

Ordre des orthophonistes et audiologistes du Québec

 

Dr Brian Bexton

President

Quebec Association of Psychiatrists

 

Mgr Gilles Lussier

President of the Social Affairs Committee

Quebec Bishops’ Assembly