UK Schools Threaten to Report Parents to Police
In Cheshire, a county in North West England, a group of primary and secondary schools have taken a strong stand against video games which they deem to be inappropriate. The Nantwich Education Partnership recently sent a letter to parents stating that regular exposure could lead to “early sexualized behavior” and leave children “vulnerable to sexual exploitation or extreme violence.” While some parents have objected, teachers say they’re merely following the guidance set by their local authority: “If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+, we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.”
This issue is not completely foreign to the US. In 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a California law which banned the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18. The unusual alliance of conservative textualist Scalia, moderate Kennedy and liberals Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan produced a decision stating that video games are a distinct form of expression protected by the First Amendment.
The matter now taking place in the UK and which has at times gained footing in the US is less about video games and more about government attempting to act upon its paternalistic impulses. When it comes to video games, there appears to be an unholy union between nanny-state liberals like Hillary Clinton, who in 2005 introduced legislation that would have made the sale of violent video games to minors a federal offense, and radical social conservatives like Pat Robertson, who once stated that killing in video games is the same as killing in real life.
In any case, when government indicates that it thinks that it knows what is best for children better than parents, concern should arise. The personal bonds and values which are created inside family homes are some of the most private and important ones which shape a child’s future. Parents can teach hard work, responsibility and compassion. Additionally, parents can display some levels of affection and discipline that simply cannot be taught in the same way by a government.
When government is placed in that position, all of these intricate and particularized inputs and discarded in favor of a uniform product. Obedience to the state and adherence to what it believes to be best are placed at a premium. While parents have a vested interest in seeing their children succeed, government takes that important job away every time that it tries to take over that role.
While allowing government a role in regulating what children play on their video game consoles may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, it sends a broader message: that government always knows best and that it is government’s job to take care of you. When coupled with a state-sponsored culture of “free” housing, healthcare, and food, as well as state prohibition of certain foods, drinks and illicit substances, all of the pieces of the puzzle seem to come together.
In order to preserve the individual as the greatest source of power in a free society, we as citizens must strike back any time that government claims to know what is best for us or our kin. Government dependency can only be created through a society which is primed for it. If we instead choose to promote a culture of individualism, self-sustenance and responsibility for one’s actions, we will find ourselves more fulfilled and independently able to pursue our own best interests.
Video games give us all a better way of discovering who we are, while giving us a break from the real world. When played and understood for the art which they are, they can help us to appreciate the mantras and themes being projected in these cyber-worlds, while enjoying the messages which they are trying to communicate. While some parents may ultimately deem some subjects to be inappropriate for their children, that decision ought to be left solely to individuals, and not to government bureaucrats.