Report on Violence in and through the Media

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly
Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media
Session 2014 – Third part-session

Joe O’Reilly TD- Ireland

Large numbers of studies by eminent psychologists leave us in no doubt that exposure to violent images over time desensitises, de humanises and contributes to aggression and violent behaviour.
Of course this can be aggravated by exposure to actual violence and by certain genetic factors. On average a six year old spends 14 hours per week in front of a television screen and an 18 year old spends on average, 45 hours per week in front of a television.
60% of television programmes contain violence and half of those are shown during children’s viewing time. Video games are in my view very serious, they contain gratuitous violence and behaviour through fictional, adult beings and a common feature of many of these games is that the killing of an individual is rewarded with the player progressing to the next stage of the game. We need very strict enforcement of age limits for the purchase of such games. We must ensure that clear identification is given for verification such as; birth certs, passports and student cards. Plain clothes police should be available and on stand-by to assist in the implementation of these rules, in shops where such games are sold or rented and seeing that they these rules are observed, just as they have done so in other spheres.
Exposure to violence through video games, the internet, social media and television can sometimes feed into cyber bullying. Just as I believe that the entire area of video gaming needs constant scrutiny and attention by Government and our Committee of Ministers, so to I believe that we must keep a huge focus on Cyber Bullying. It is pernicious and insidious, its ultimate impact can be suicide, self-harm and tragically we have may high-profile cases in our respective countries.
Freedom of Expression, under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply to child pornography or hate speech obviously. There is a definite link between exposure to Child Pornography and sexual assaults. Commercial producers of violent media content must be controlled and have a social responsibility. Strict licencing is needed and gratuitous violence in media should be prohibited. In 2008, the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe, adopted guideline for internet service providers and online game providers. Guidelines involved independent labelling, ratings systems and parental control tools. Our Committee of Ministers and our National Governments must be constantly engaging with the issue of violence in the media. We need strong rules and real enforcement. Of course, parallel with that we need educational initiatives and positive distraction for our young people. Needless to say, I strongly support the Council of Europe Youth Campaign against Hate Speech.
In conclusion, I feel that we must be vigilant at all levels; at Council of Europe Level, at Governmental Level and right throughout and I congratulate our rapporteurs on a good days work on this report. It is a very important piece of work.
Copy of Report can be found here

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website