Southington, Connecticut is a small town that neighbors Newtown, the town that most sadly experienced the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, an event I can barely discuss without tearing up. Since Southington is so close to Newton, it's hardly surprising to learn that the Southington school district's superintendent was flooded with emails from concerned parents asking what they could do to help Newton and prevent such a tragedy from befalling their own schools.
The Southington SOS, a community organization consisting of the Chamber of Commerce, the local YMCA, the board of education, the fire department, town officials, United Way, and local clergy, has decided to sponsor a Violent Video Games Return Program as one way to help their community. The program will take place on January 12, 2013, where parents can return violent video games in exchange for a gift certificate donated by the Chamber of Commerce.
Joe Erardi, Southington school superintendent, explained to Polygon that the purpose of this program is for parents to have a "real, sound conversation with their children about video games."
"We're suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games," Erardi further stated. "We're asking parents to better understand what their child is doing. Have a conversation about next steps. If parents are comfortable (with their child's gaming habits), we're comfortable."
For parents who are not comfortable, they can turn in these unapproved games (as well as movies and music) where the discs will be snapped, placed in a town dumpster, and later burned.
"The group's action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14th," SouthingtonSOS provided in a statement. "Rather, SouthingtonSOS is saying is that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and Movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying. Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence."
On the one hand, this isn't a typical book burning party, but on the other hand, I'm not so sure how destroying these games solves very much. My first question is, parents, why aren't you involved in what your child plays in the first place? Why does it take something as horrible as the Sandy Hook massacre for parents to start paying attention to what their kids are watching/playing? I'm not saying that violent video games are the root of the massacre at all; I'm saying, as a parent, it's ridiculous to not monitor what your kids watch and play in your own house. It should not take a horrific event to suddenly spur you into paying attention to what your kids are doing.
If you need programs like this to get you to talk to your kids about their gaming habits, you should be ashamed.