If you’re under 18 living in Cheshire England, playing Call of Duty, GTAV, or various M rated games, you could be looking at having the police and social services called for Neglect and child abuse. This is what Headteachers that are part of the Nantwich Education Partnership have warned parents after it was discovered that some children had been playing or watching games that contain unsuitable levels of violence and sexual content.
The group, consisting of 15 primary schools and one secondary academy has released a letter warning parents against allowing underage access to games, stating “If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+, we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.”
Mary Hennessy Jones, the head who drafted the letter, told the Sunday Times: “We are trying to help parents to keep their children as safe as possible in this digital era. It is so easy for children to end up in the wrong place and parents find it helpful to have very clear guidelines.”
Parenting groups have taken a stand on the issue saying that the schools have taken it a step too far. “Accepting the huge concerns about these violent games and their effect on children, I think the schools are stepping outside the realm of what is probably acceptable,” said Margaret Morrissey, from the pressure group Parents Outloud. “It will be construed by many parents as a threat and it is not helpful. If schools want to get the support of parents and gain their confidence, threatening them with social services will not help.”
“Lots of adults think coercion is the key, and we absolutely don’t agree with that. We think it’s all about communication, connection and trust. What this warning does is break down trust, not only between parent and child, but also parent and teacher.” said Elaine Halligan, London director of the Parent Practice, which offers training for parents. “I absolutely get why they are doing it – it’s because children do need to be protected from technology. But to get the social services involved is an absolute disaster, because it starts telling parents that we don’t trust you to be responsible for your children.”
The added pressure on teachers and workers have increased recently, as Prime Minister David Cameron announced this month that adults in positions of responsibility could face up to five years in prison if they failed to report allegations of neglect or abuse of children.
I’ve personally have talked about this before in regards to the ESRB Guidelines, where I gave a heartfelt thank you to the parents who had active conversations with their children, other gamers, game retail workers and game journalists/reviewers about the content. Like Elaine Halligan’s statement, conversation is the key, not policing. As both a gamer and a parent, I think this is a idea that has gone too far and needs to be stopped before it spreads further.
We want to hear more from you! Is letting your kid play M-rated games neglect that warrant police and social services time and money or is this just people sticking their nose in other people’s business?