North-American, Australian, South-Korean, UK and Caribbean teachers' chorus of opposition to video game condoning bullying in school



    OTTAWA, March 5 /CNW Telbec/ - A coalition of eight teacher organizations
representing over 4-million teachers in North America, the United Kingdom,
South Korea, Australia and the Caribbean has joined in an unprecedented effort
to condemn bullying and cyberbullying in all its forms. The outcry by teacher
organizations representing is sparked by the pending release of Bully -
Scholarship Edition.
    The coalition spearheaded by the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF)
includes the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), the National Education
Association (NEA) in the United States, the National Union of Teachers (NUT)
in the United Kingdom, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (SCTA) the
Australian Education Union (AEU), the Korean Federation of Teachers'
Association (KFTA) and the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT). The teacher
organizations are all members of Education International (EI) which also
endorses this initiative.
    "Educators around the world are deeply concerned about the impact of
violence in media, especially when it is marketed as entertainment," says Fred
van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International, the global union
federation representing teachers worldwide. "Clearly these violent video games
undermine our efforts to create safe schools where children can grow and learn
in an atmosphere of respect. As teachers, it's our professional duty to speak
out against this kind of bullying behaviour, whether it's in the community,
the classroom or on the computer screen."
    "Teachers are concerned because the video game is mean-spirited in that
it trivializes and glorifies bullying in school. While teachers recognize this
game is only one among thousands of violent and aggressive video games on the
market, this game in particular hits closer to home for teachers and
students," explains CTF President Emily Noble.
    "We were disappointed when the game was first released in 2006. And we
are appalled this new version is said to be more realistic, featuring new
methods to torment and bully," adds Angelo Gavrielatos, AEU Federal President.
    "What a distasteful example to show young people. The game undermines all
our work for civility, social engagement and peaceful resolution," explains
CUT President Adolph Cameron.
    "At a time when media reports of bullying and cyberbullying behaviours
are on the rise, the last thing we need is a video game that further fans the
flames of bullying and cyberbullying behaviour in schools," says NEA President
Reg Weaver. "After all, every teacher has seen at least one of their students
mimic what they have seen and watched on the video screen."
    Studies have shown that kids who watch television or films with violence
or play violent video games have a tendency to imitate this behaviour in
real-life:

    
        - According to a UNESCO study, almost half (44%) of both boys and
          girls reported a strong overlap between what they perceive as
          reality and what they see on the screen. Many children experience
          both real and media environments in which violence appears to be
          natural and the most effective solution to life's problems.

       -  According to the non-profit organization Media Awareness Network
         (MNet), the level of violence in the gaming habits of young people
          is disturbingly high. In MNet's 2001 study Young Canadians In A
          Wired World (which found that 32 per cent of kids 9 to 17 are
          playing video games "every day or almost every day"), 60 per cent
          cited action/combat as their favourite genre.

        - According to a 2003 study published in Psychological Research in
          the Public Interest, television and films, video games, and music
          that contain violence increase the likelihood of aggressive and
          violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts.

    "Bullying used to be limited to school yards or to local neighborhoods,
and kids used to consider their homes as a safe haven from bullying. Not
anymore with the increased use of e-mails, websites, instant messaging, social
networking sites, chat rooms, and text messaging. Today, bullying has morphed
into cyberbullying which now extends into the homes of young people," adds NUT
General Secretary, Steve Sinnott.
    Research shows that some young people engage in cyberbullying activities
because of the anonymous nature of the medium.
    "The devastating psychological effects of both verbal and social bullying
become even more profound online because the victim often doesn't know who is
doing the harassing, and many people can covertly witness or join in the
bullying," explains SSTA President Ann Ballinger.
    "The lack of non-verbal visual cues in the non-physical world of the
Internet makes it difficult for perpetrators to gauge how their actions are
being received by others. When people can't perceive the effect of their
actions on others, it's difficult for them to feel empathy" says KFTA
spokesperson Kim Dong-suk.
    "The growing trend in bullying and cyberbullying behaviours has a harmful
impact on our learning and teaching environments. Teachers see first-hand the
negative effects of bullying on students' capability to learn and to grow. For
too many people, the discrimination, harassment, victimization and violence
they experience through bullying, is something they have to deal with their
entire lives," explains for his part Réjean Parent, President of the CSQ.
    "This is why bullying and its virtual off-shoot, cyberbullying have become
key issues for teachers and their organizations. That is why we as a coalition
of teachers are staunchly opposed to this type of video game which simply
promotes bullying behaviour and violence. At a time when our class composition
is so diverse and complex, games like this easily target students who are most
vulnerable. It does nothing to promote positive relationships. We have the
interests of the children of our countries in mind. We encourage retailers to
refuse to sell this distasteful game. We urge parents to help us raise
awareness and work together toward creating caring and inclusive school
environments," concludes CTF President Emily Noble.
    All of the education organizations cited here are members of Education
International, the global union federation that represents 30 million teachers
and education workers in 171 countries and territories around the world.

    Helpful links for parents:
    Parent Video Game Review Sites (see right sidebar):
   
http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/parents/video_games/choosing_videogames.
cfm
    




For further information:

For further information: Canada: Francine Filion, CTF Communications
Director, (613) 232-1505; Quebec: Marjolaine Perreault, CSQ Press Attaché,
(514) 235-5082 (cell); Luc Allaire, (514) 356-8888; United States: Cynthia
Swann, NEA, (202) 833-4000; Caribbean: Corbin Hinds, CUT Public Relations
Officer, (246) 422-4686, (246) 436-6139; England: Caroline Cowie, NUT Media
Relations, 44-20-7388-6191; Scotland: Ann Bellinger, SSTA President; David
Eaglesham, SSTA General Secretary, 0131 313 7300; Australia: Susan Hopgood,
AEU Vice-President, 61-0-39693-1800; South Korea: Kim Dong-suk (Mr), KFTA
Spokesperson, 82-2-570-5531


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