A community group established in the wake of last month's Newtown, Connecticut shooting has established a Violent Video Games Return Program, hoping to collect and destroy violent games, movies, and CDs.
As reported by Polygon, SouthingtonSOS, a community group from Southington, CT (a little more than 30 miles from Newtown) is holding a trade-in event January 12 where people can turn in violent games and other media in exchange for gift certificates provided by a Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce member "as a token of appreciation for their action of responsible citizenship." The games will be destroyed and collected in a dumpster "for appropriate permanent disposal."
While SouthingtonSOS was established in the wake of the Newtown tragedy to create "a greater proactive public awareness response" to such events, the group insists that the collection drive is not saying violent games were the cause of the Newtown shooting.
"The group's action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14th," according to a SouthingtonSOS statement. "Rather, SouthingtonSOS is saying is that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying. Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence."
Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi, a member of SouthingtonSOS, told Polygon the move was intended to create a dialogue between parents and children.
"There are youngsters who appear to be consumed with violent video games," Erardi told the site. "I'm not certain if that's a good thing. If this encourages one courageous conversation with a parent and their child, then it's a success. We're suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games. We're asking parents to better understand what their child is doing. Have a conversation about next steps."
Since the Newtown shooting, violent video games have been a subject of much criticism from politicians, pundits, and parents. In the days after the shooting, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced a bill that would have multiple government agencies investigating the effects violent games have on children. That was followed by the National Rifle Association pinning blame for the shooting on "a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against own people, through vicious violent video games."