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Grossman: Games linked to violence

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Retired Army Ranger and professor of military science, and psychologist, Lt. Col. David Grossman gave a presentation Monday evening in which he discussed the explosive rise in school violence around the world and in the United States.

HOUGHTON — Former U.S. Army Ranger and West Point psychology professor David Grossman said in his presentation Monday that psychologists have identified a link between media violence and school massacres. Grossman talked at the Houghton High School and Middle School on school safety.

He said that while not all children who play video games like “Grand Theft Auto” become a mass murderer, all of the shooters involved in school shootings in the country reported excessive use of that game. The video game series centers around several different protagonists who attempt to rise in the criminal underworld, and involves third-person shooting.

While video games teach children how to kill, movies such as “Natural Born Killers” reinforce the training, he pointed out. “Natural Born Killers” tells the story of two mass murderers and the media’s endless obsession with them. The movie became one of the most controversial of all time.

In arguing that violent video games are responsible for the increasing number of school massacres, Grossman is qualified to argue.

A former U.S. Army Ranger, he was also a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division, then a platoon leader in the 9th Infantry Division, a general staff officer, and later, a company commander in the 7th Infantry Division.

He then became a professor of psychology at West Point. When he retired from the military in 1998, he was a professor of military science at Arkansas State University. Grossman is also an author of a number of books on the topic of killing and its psychological affects.

“We found out in World War II, most of our troops wouldn’t pull the trigger,” he said. The reason was they were trained to shoot at bullseyes.

The majority failed on the battlefield, because there were no bullseyes. It was a lack of proper training. Under stress, in an extreme state of fear, and given everything that happened on the front, they couldn’t shoot.”

Training methods were changed, and became more effective, as did psychological preparations for combat. What Grossman calls killing simulators were developed. Rather than shooting at bullseyes, targets were human silhouettes, shot at using an M-16-like game controller. The simulators brought the desired results, and computer games became very interesting to the military. Similar video games have reached the public, and have been unregulated in their availability to children, Grossman said. In fact, he said, in a court battle that ultimately was heard in the Supreme Court, video came manufacturing companies argued that they are protected under the First Amendment. The media therefore, he said, censors anything that deflects blame for school violence back on themselves, and parents do not want to let go of their “baby sitters.”

“The reality is,” Grossman said, “we can do our best to not turn these killers into celebrities.”

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