AN AMERICAN activist has sympathised with a head teacher of a Valleys primary school, after pupils have been re-enacting scenes of the violent game Grand Theft Auto.
Jack Thompson, who is 62 and lives in Miami, contacted us to say the story had been discussed at length on US news channel Fox News today.
Mr Thompson, who has briefed Hilary Clinton on the dangers of graphic and violent video games and worked with her to censor part of a previous instalment of GTA, believes “lives are at stake”.
It comes after pupils at Coed-y-Brain Primary School in Llanbradach were, according to head teacher Morian Morgan, “initiating games that involve simulating rape and sexual intercourse” and “having detailed discussion of drug use”.
Staff at the school discovered that the worrying behaviour was a result of children coming into contact with GTA, which follows a criminal lifestyle in the dark underworld of America’s biggest cities.
Mr Morgan sent a letter to parents after becoming aware of “extremely concerning behaviour” of pupils, some as young as six, which he puts down to the violent video game.
The letter to parents also said children were “acting out scenes from the game which include the strongest of sexual swear words”, “having conversations” about sexual acts and “play-acting extremely violent games that sometimes result in actual injury”.
Mr Thompson, who has long campaigned against the violent and sexual nature of such video games in the States, said: “Parents are the first line of defence. There mustn’t be this notion that kids have their own private space – parents have a right to search their rooms if they think something is not right. When I was younger I didn’t let my parents know that I had a Playboy [magazine]!”
The activist once filmed his own 10-year-old son buying a copy of GTA at a supermarket in Florida to prove that retailers were willing to sell the game to minors.
Its latest instalment, Grand Theft Auto V, is thought to be one of the best-selling video games of all time, having sold more than 32 million copies worldwide. In the UK, it is certified for people over 18.
Mr Thompson, who has published books on the problems associated with children and video games, said: "These age certificates need to mean something for them to have an effect - minors can get their hands on these games if they want to. Studies prove that kids are using the animalistic part of their brain to play these games. We have had dozens of murderous shooting incidents in this country by underage kids who have practiced killing on GTA.
“It’s sociopathic. It’s a game where the bad guys are actually the good guys, and a game where you get points if you have sex with a prostitute or for killing someone.
“I totally understand why the head teacher would be concerned. My concerns are not revolutionary, but this is a video generation, and it’s all about public safety because these kind of games are dangerous."
Mr Morgan said the letter to parents at his school was simply a way of making them aware of this trend rather than criticising them for the children’s actions.