During a panel discussion on the correlation between videogames and acts of violence, ex-FBI profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole has stated that while games are used during the agency’s threat assessment of potentially violent individuals, it does not consider games to be a direct catalyst for violence.
The CBS panel discussion – as reported byRaw Story – saw O’Toole playing down the direct impact between games and violence.
O’Toole said, “It’s my experience that video games do not cause violence. However,” she continued, “it is one of the risk variables when we do a threat assessment for the risk to act out violently.
“It’s important that I point out that as a threat assessment and as a former FBI profiler, we don’t see these as the cause of violence, we see them as sources of fuelling ideation that’s already there.”
Contrary to recent claims, Texas A&M University professor Christopher Ferguson added that violence among youths is actually lowering, placing games a natural scapegoat, just as music and film were in their infancy.
Said Ferguson, “I think we have to put this discussion, to some extent, in historical perspective. And when new media come out that they tend to go through a period of what we call moral panic, in which they are blamed for all manner of societal ills.
“And probably the best example of this was from the 1950s, when we had Congress and psychiatrists who were claiming that comic books were responsible for not only juvenile delinquency, but homosexuality.
“We’re in a mode of worry about – or panicking about this type of media. We may do some putting the cart before the horse, and we may see some people sort of starting with a conclusion and trying to assemble data in a very selective way to try to support that conclusion.”
It comes as police in Connecticut began researching the links between videogames and the motives of the Sandy Hook shooter last week.
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