Can a video game teach kids domestic violence is wrong?
Women and video games: when you think of them together, a huge-breasted, hot-bodied Lara Croft-like vixen probably comes to mind.
But the United Nation Population Fund seeks to change all that -- at least in one video game -- in a game that will encourage young boys not to use domestic violence (DV) to solve disputes.
College students in Vermont teamed up with two media organizations to create the game, which will be targeted towards children in Cape Town, South Africa. According to one senior, who traveled to Africa to interview kids about their views on DV, young boys need education and reinforcement about respecting women and not using violence:
"Some of the girls didn't want to ever get married because of domestic violence," says senior Amanda Jones. "When we asked them about the ideal husband, they used phrases like 'won’t abandon the family,' 'respects me,' etc. The boys say [the violence] is not right, but at the same time they're like, 'Well, a lot of times women run to the police when it’s not necessary.'"
The game the students are creating won't just be lecturing that hitting-is-wrong (because that's not very interesting!), but it'll be a story-telling narrative with positive role models. And it'll be "low-budget"so that students can access it over the Internet via their cell phones, which the CSM reports is one of the more common ways for South African kids to play. Very cool. Sounds like this game is a way better way for kids to pass their time with over beating up prostitutes. The game's not done yet, but I hope it makes waves across the world. Because DV is not a problem exclusive to South Africa, of course. Here's some depressing statistics for you: the UN estimates that between 10 and 69 of women around the world experience DV, depending on which country they reside in.
I'm thrilled to see the UN taking innovative, modern steps to teach about healthy relationships. "For difficult subjects like domestic violence, there isn’t a lot of opportunity for kids to explore other kinds of behaviors,” Suzanne Seggerman, president of Games For Change, told the CSM.
But the #1 place from which kids have to learn about conflict resolution is in the home: What are parents and step-parents thinking when they hit each other in front of children?