Time to hang up on violence

Time to hang up on violence On the same day as the Yukon's cellphone brutality issue hit the paper, the identical theme, Gewaltvideos, was featured on the German documentary Bauer Ermittelt. In it, the moderator pointed out the attack videos are being d

On the same day as the Yukon’s cellphone brutality issue hit the paper, the identical theme, Gewaltvideos, was featured on the German documentary Bauer Ermittelt.

In it, the moderator pointed out the attack videos are being discussed all the way up to the national level. No one is shying away from the seriousness.

The phenomenon, called “Happy Slapping” in Great Britain, got a foothold among youth in 2007.

British youth died from gang beatings uploaded for livestream on cellphones. The phenomenon spread as fast as a text message through Europe and North America. And that is the main source of distribution Ð YouTube is more like the archives for the numerous anonymous acts of violence perpetrated in schoolyards, parking lots, train platforms and dim nooks and crannies where youth can “perform” their acts of violence.

In Gewaltvideos, the cellphone, or “handy” as the Germans call them, is the weapon and plays a role in the violence. The presence of a camera escalates the level of force used.

The videos, such as that from Watson Lake, are zapped from handy to handy around the globe.

Our youth are taking their cues from dysfunctional youth in South Central LA, the Bronx, Stuttgart, and Vancouver suburbs in a global game of one-upmanship.

It is a federal crime to use radio, telephone, television or internet to produce and/or distribute violence against children. Your phone may be intercepted by police from any nation tracking offenders.

In the incidents where the victim is willingly victimized, consider that a human brain is not fully developed until adulthood. As such, youth are not always able to discern the full consequences of their decisions. Also, the images they watch are burned into their memories, without the brain being fully able to process or deal with the violence.

In Germany, 30 per cent of people 12 to 19 years of age have been consumers of cellphone brutality. What makes them participate in the violence? Media experts and social scientists asked youth. They said it stems from a sense of boredom combined with a lack of control over their lives.

Where they have difficulty achieving “success” in their real lives, brutality videos allow them to do something that provides instant success. Don’t assume it’s just boys, either. My husband overheard a group of girls at the federal building plaza in Whitehorse gloating about their latest conquest in a gang fight. Media experts and police note that consumers of cellphone brutality often become participants.

In part, the media itself is responsible for desensitizing us to live violence. Torture films from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, broadcast of prisoner torture in British and American POW camps in the Middle East, the live footage of Saddam Hussein twitching at the end of his rope on the internet are as culpable as World Wrestling Federation, Ultimate Fight Club and Armageddon Fighting shows.

But, unlike Ryan Leef’s bout, when he entered the ring he knew there would be a victim of violence and a victor. Youth violence videos usually target an unsuspecting hapless victim.

And unlike the schoolyard scuffle of the adult generation’s youth, these attacks are not precipitated by a conflict but by a desire to capture the violence on video.

This is more than the police or politicians can handle. This is not an issue that will go away by wearing a rubber band on your wrist, a ribbon, or a certain coloured T-shirt.

It comes down to you and me, us citizens, confronting the issue.

German police offer the following guidelines for citizen response:

Don’t enter the fray. Currently working its way through German courts is a case of a citizen who was beaten into a coma when he stepped in to rescue a Gewaltvideo victim.

Gather a crowd. The assailants will be outnumbered and shamed, and they can’t assault all of you.

Bear witness. You are witnessing an assault, a crime in progress. Phone an ambulance and take evidence Ð faces, places, dates and time Ð to give to the police. The victim cannot be expected to press charges themselves.

In addition, parents, are you spending your family time watching UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) with your kids? Ask yourselves if that’s wise.

If you become aware your teenagers are consuming, producing or forwarding Gewaltvideos, confiscate their phones.

Let them know you will not foot the bill for them to perpetrate or perpetuate a crime.

Teachers, don’t hide from this issue. Educate your students in social studies, media and high school law classes. Open the dialogue about why it’s happening, the consequences and effect of cellphone brutality. It is assault, in some cases escalating to murder, which society does not tolerate.

Jessica Simon


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