Letter: The links between video nasties and particular crimes

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The Independent Online
Sir: In reporting the views of eminent child psychologists, you cite the opinion of a media analyst, Steven Barnett, that the thinking of child behaviourists is guided by fad:

The trend at the moment is to say there's a link (between video nasties and violence) because that's what people want to hear. They ignore evidence that does not suit their theories.

What evidence? In this area, positive connections displace negative findings (ie, if I can show a link between particular crimes and particular videos the general hypothesis begins to be proven and cannot be controverted by vague, abstract denials).

The video Juice, a film three youths were watching before they savagely kicked a father of three to death on the Ely estate in Cardiff, has now been withdrawn from some video shops after associations between its violence and the brutal crime. This is the latest example in a series of cases where clear connections have emerged between horrific videos and particular crimes committed by people apparently influenced by what they had watched on screen.

Before Suzanne Capper was murdered by being set on fire, she was tortured for a week to a soundtrack featuring the diabolic character 'Chucky' from the Child's Play videos. One of the torturers repeatedly tormented her victim with catchphrases from the horror video (see trial reports, December 1993).

In one of the Child's Play videos, the Chucky character is mutilated and then killed in strikingly similar circumstances to those in which James Bulger was murdered, and it is a matter of record that the video had been in the home of one of the boys who murdered James. The trial judge voiced his strong suspicion that exposure to violent videos had played a strong part in corrupting the boys (see trial reports, November 1993).

It is an axiom of our culture that exposing young people to good literature and drama makes them better people; surely, therefore, the corollary that 'exposure to bad drama produces bad people' must follow.

Yours faithfully,

GARY SLAPPER

The Law School

Staffordshire University

Stoke-on-Trent

1 April

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