Today a video game has been banned from British shops on the ground that it encourages extreme violence and "casual sadism". The video game is believed to have images of the toddler James Bulger, including the unforgetable CCTV image of him being abducted.
Violent acts are commonly believed to increase after exposure to watched or television violence. There may be a reduction in the emotional response to violence, as brains become ‘desensitised’ to viewing on-screen violence. This leaves a potential problem for both viewers and film-makers. Film-makers need to escalate behaviour in order to get the same level of emotional response, whilst the viewer develops desensitisation to viewed violence. A study in 1974 by Drabman and Thomas found that eight year olds were less likely to tell an adult about a fight in the playroom after viewing a violent programme than if they had not seen it. The ongoing debate about the relationship between media violence and aggression is far from resolved. In Britain the link between the two was last in the spotlight following the murder of two year old James Bulger by two teenage boys in 1993. At their trial, Mr Justice Moreland said “It is not for me to pass judgement on their upbringing, but I suspect that exposure to violent video films may, in part, be an explanation.” Let's hope we've learnt from history.