Monday, August 31, 2009

Debunking the Issue: Youth and Violence


I stumbled across this article, which is actually almost two years old now -- published September 20, 2007. It mentions what the Swiss have attempted to do to minimize the bombarding of Swiss youth with violent images at young ages.

A Swiss organization, The Swiss Pro Juventute Foundation (hereafter SPJF), began a campaign to minimize the violence seen by youth at young ages, specifically targeting the internet, video gaming, and television/movie avenues. Movies and games would be re-rated to determine age limits on viewing audiences.

While I agree with the idea that we should protect children from callousing them toward violence (though I admit that I am not a pacifist, I do believe that war and death is never a glorious thing), I take issue with how they went about defending their cause. They appealed to the Swiss Constitution, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Why would they do this? Why would they have to use both to determine that this policy is in the best interest of Switzerland?

Jolanda Bertozzi of SPJF notes that "the convention says that children have a right to access to media appropriate for their age, but they also have the right to be protected from inappropriate content or content that is too demanding." How does this work? According to Article 13 of the CRC, children have "the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds . . . either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice." Where do we see "media appropriate for their age" in this article? There are restrictions, but the CRC is clear on what these restrictions are on media access for children: "The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary: (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or (b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals."

Where is the age restriction found in the CRC? Is it placed under the "morals" section, which is also present in Article 14 on religious freedom? If this is the case, who decides what these "morals" are? They say they protect children, but in the case of violent images the government is deciding what these "morals" are. So, does it really protect children's rights? Is it really "for the children," or is it for expansion of government? Charitably, it is hard (at best...meaning, at its very best) to see how this actually protects children.

The CRC is not designed to protect children: government is given authority to act in the family unit, and the areas which would fall within their jurisdiction (child trafficking, substance abuse, violence, etc.) they have failed miserably at. Check out this article from May 2009: the Swiss are still dealing with problems on violent media access. UN Conventions do nothing to change the situation.

But our law would assist our nation. This is why the Parental Rights Amendment would be a better solution. Instead of focusing on an international vocal assention to what should be the case, we can enforce our laws in our nation, and protect the values which Americans have cherished for almost 220 years.

Stand with us,
Defend the truth,


"The time is right." -- Glenstorm