In a bid to curb rampant crime in San Augustin slums, Venezuela's National Assembly is on track to prohibit violent video games and toys. The proposed legislation, which received initial approval in September, is expected to get a final vote in
the coming weeks.
Parents applaud the proposed ban. But critics argue the bill is little more than a public relations stunt by supporters of President Hugo Chavez to camouflage his government's inability to deal with Venezuela's rampant violent crime, the country's
most pressing problem according to public opinion polls.
Lawmaker Jose Albornoz concedes that fighting crime requires a multifaceted approach. But he's convinced that authorities can reduce the murder rate by breaking what he says is a direct link between video games and crime, though most studies find
no evidence that such games prompt violent behavior in youngsters.
Venezuela would be one of few countries to impose an all-out ban on the manufacture, importation, distribution, sales and use of violent video games and bellicose toys. The proposed law would give Venezuela's consumer protection agency the
discretion to define what products should be prohibited and impose fines as high as $128,000.
The Venezuelan bill would also mandate crime prevention classes in public schools and force the media to implement permanent campaigns to warn against the dangers of violent games. Another provision requires the government to promote the
production, distribution, sales and use of games that teach kids respect for an adversary.