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U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down CA Video Games Controls for Minors

Sunday, July 10, 2011 11:57 PM | Alma Robinson (Administrator)

State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco, a psychologist and former member of the San Francisco Board of Education, has led efforts to enact legislation that would restrict sales of violent video games to minors under age 18. AB 1179, which was passed by the state legislature in 2005, was successfully challenged in the courts by the games industry, which favors voluntary standards that refuse sales of violent games to unaccompanied minors.  In Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the California law was inconsistent with First Amendment principles and previous decisions.  

Whether the state or parents alone can provide the kind of supervision needed by vulnerable youth is questionable.  

Our passion for freedom of expression is challenged when it comes to what kinds of cultural activities we want our own kids to be engaged in.  Certainly, most thinking parents would not want their own youth to be immersed in erotic and violent imagery that may harm their ability to relate to others in healthy ways.  And every parent knows that one of the biggest challenges they have, once kids reach adolescence, is keeping them involved in positive activities.  Left unattended, it's easy enough for them to get access to questionable material, whether through television, printed media, electronic games or internet browsing.  

We also know that arts activities provide "pro-social" outlets for socialization, creativity and recreation.  Having arts programs in the menu of after-school activities provides an essential safety net for parents and for communities, reducing delinquency and providing opportunities to learn many important life skills that can result in meaningful career paths and/or life-long avocations.

At California Lawyers for the Arts, we advocate that arts programs should be an essential component of youth development services and after school programs, as well as an essential part of a complete K-12 education.   We hope you will join us in this quest to restore meaningful funding for arts in education, as well as in community programs.  Please let your elected representatives at every level of government know that we need them to restore the funds for these needed services.  It's going to take more than one village to raise healthy kids.

Alma Robinson, Executive Director
California Lawyers for the Arts



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