Opponents of violence in the media yesterday announced a weeklong national campaign to encourage children to read books instead of playing violent video games or watching violent television programs.
The campaign is part of a response to youth violence, including this year's shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
"Children don't naturally kill; it is a learned behavior," said Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, who joined members of the Christian Coalition, Family Research Council and Church of the Brethren in targeting violence in the media as a key factor in youth violence.
"The constant barrage of violent images children encounter through these media has not only desensitized them to killing but is conditioning children to be violent and teaching them the very mechanics of killing," said Col. Grossman, a former Army Ranger and psychology instructor at West Point.
As one solution, the campaign urged bookstores to give free books to children in return for their violent video games.
Col. Grossman said the companies that sell video games to the military to train combat troops are selling the same games to children.
The games "develop within you the skill and the will to kill," he said.
Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis, senior director of national security and foreign affairs for the Family Research Council and a 24-year Army veteran, agreed that children are learning combat techniques from video games.
"Mental conditioning is required to train young men for combat," Col. Maginnis said. "The same techniques . . . are a part of entertainment."
Col. Grossman said gun control laws cannot stop violence by children because they don't explain why children kill. …