NZ Censor Threatens To Jail Parents Who Buy Violent Video Games For Kids

from the shock-value dept

Tony Eaton points us to the rather disturbing news that New Zealand’s “chief censor” (quite a title, there…), Bill Hastings, is interested in prosecuting parents who have bought their kids violent video games. Apparently parenting is no longer for parents, but for Bill Hastings to determine what is, and what is not appropriate:

“There would certainly be some shock value to prosecuting a parent who gives their under-18 child access to a restricted game. It would send out a message that the enforcement agency means business.”

Based on the law, parents prosecuted could face $10,000 fines or be put in jail for three months. Which do you think would do more harm to a child? Playing GTA or having their parent dragged through a show trial, for “shock value,” and dumped in jail for three months?

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Comments on “NZ Censor Threatens To Jail Parents Who Buy Violent Video Games For Kids”

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Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Two sides to a coin

What if the parent believes that their child is ready for such a game? What if the parent buys the game for themselves, and the child ends up playing it through no fault of the parents? And what if the parents buy it for themselves, yet allow their child to see the game in order to teach them lessons about life and culture?

This is an attempt to criminalize parenting decisions based on debunked studies and “think of the children” scaremongering. When I think of my future children, I want them to grow up in a world where I’m free to discuss games like Grand Theft Auto with them — and show them the actual game to aid the discussion — WITHOUT the government telling me that I could go to jail for doing so.

I would rather lose my life than lose my right to raise my children how I see fit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Two sides to a coin

What if you buy some rum for yourself and your kid drinks it?
Jail time.
Why can’t a 17 year old have a glass of wine with dinner?
Because the law says no.

What is not clear from the article is whether it is illegal for a minor to use the violent video games in the first place before making it illegal to provide one to them.

Slackr says:

Re: Re:

Spanking is also outlawed in NZ. Interestingly all of these laws do give us one great advantage – we can further increase our teen pregnancy rate and be number 1 in the world. If you can’t fool around on the internet (3 strikes), or on a console (big fines or mummy goes to jail), what better activity than a little hanky panky?

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re:

Spanking sure as hell better be okay. Spanking is not child abuse. Beating a child is child abuse.

What anti-spanking activists don’t understand is that a spanking is not designed to hurt a child, but to immediately correct them. Swat a toddler with a diaper, and they hardly feel it. But it works, because it immediately draws their attention to the fact that what they are doing is wrong. If you leave a mark on your child that lasts more than a couple minutes, it is child abuse. Spanking does not produce welts, bruising, etc. If it does, it has moved well beyond the realm of spanking, and should be prosecutable.

Slackr says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Unfortunately NZ is a nanny state where all social problems can be legistlatively handled. We have a terrible rate of children dying at the hands of family, rather than address the issue the Government decided to tackle it head on – by further legistlating on top of the law that was already adequate. Thus turning all those who understand discipline into criminals and all those who are child abusers into what they already are (and were already under the law) – criminals.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That is sad, but the existence of more laws does not stop child abusers. If child abuse is already illegal, and the parents are already doing it, then legislating non-abuse into a crime will have NO effect on the rate of children dying at the hands of family. If they were willing to commit a crime before, why would passing more laws make them any less likely to do so? It is very sad that the rate is high there. Certainly there is some underlying cause or causes that could be investigated rather than creating useless, invasive legislation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Uh, no. I said spanking was okay.

And you justified it as long as it didn’t leave marks, which is just plain stupid and wrong. As an example of how stupid and wrong it is, that same justification would apply to stun guns.

Give me a break and quit trying to create an argument where there isn’t one.

I’ll disagree with you if I want to, so get over it. Even if it makes you look bad.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You can disagree all you want. Just address the issue at hand instead of arguing against a straw man. It makes you look stupid. If you thought you made me look bad, then you are dead wrong. Since I never said anything about stun guns, you just exposed your own weaknesses in reading comprehension and debate.

And no, I didn’t “justify” it as long as it didn’t leave marks. It is already justified by several thousand years of parenting. It works, pure and simple, and it does not hurt the child. Once again, leaving a mark is not the only way to identify abuse; it was just one example. And once again, if you are spanking to hurt the child, you are doing it wrong, and you are a sick puppy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

You can disagree all you want.

Damn right I can, so you may as well quit trying to tell me what I can and can’t write.

Just address the issue at hand instead of arguing against a straw man.

The issue was your ridiculous justification. Again, quit trying to tell me what I can and write. It won’t work. You seem to have some real delusions of grandeur if you think you can dictate like that. Got it?

Since I never said anything about stun guns, you just exposed your own weaknesses in reading comprehension and debate. You just exposed your own because I said you did.

And no, I didn’t “justify” it as long as it didn’t leave marks.

“If you leave a mark on your child that lasts more than a couple minutes, it is child abuse. Spanking does not produce welts, bruising, etc.”

Or was that a different hegemon13?

Slackr says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There is a big difference between the “human form in all of its beauty” and porn. Children grow up and will see people naked in the natural course of family life, that is quite different to being exposed to graphic pictures of sexual acts designed to arouse adults.

As for sex being enjoyable, it can also be used as a weapon and bring serious pain to people – rape anyone? Incest? The police and law system are in place to prevent anyone being able to practice violence openly to get to the point of enjoying it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“As for sex being enjoyable, it can also be used as a weapon and bring serious pain to people – rape anyone?”

How about a ‘Rape and Forced Abortion Sim “Game”‘?

“The police and law system are in place to prevent anyone being able to practice violence openly to get to the point of enjoying it.”

Like getting to the point of openly enjoying violence in a video game?

Joe (profile) says:


Yeah i can’t imagine this law helping kids, or parents. More or less it sounds like New Zealand is looking for a way to make money off of new fines that are impossible to enforce or prove.

People who throw out these asinine concepts should get put on notice, 3 dumb ideas in 3 months and they are out. If it’s an idea this dumb just fire them.

Granted i have no idea who would decide if or if not the idea is dumb, nor who would oversee that level of beuracracy (spelling) but you get the picture.

No system is perfect but this guy should think before he talks.

Ministry of Truth says:

The State Crèche

Fellow Citizens of the People’s Republic of New Zealand:

This is a reminder that all children are to be relinquished to the State Crèche, as early as possible.

We understand that vestigial emotional attachments may make this difficult, and we encourage you to overcome them. This is in all our best interests. The education and indoctrination provided by the Crèche is our first and foremost defense against the anarchy and violence that masquerades under the names “democracy” and “capitalism” in the rest of the world. We must be vigilant!

By relieving the biological parents of the responsibility of rearing young, they may in turn devote their attention to more productive pursuits, enriching Our Great And Glorious Nation!

The exemplary educational facilities at the State Crèche will ensure that when our children reach adulthood, they will be perfectly prepared for occupation the State has chosen for them.

Those who fail to comply will attend mandatory reeducation sessions, and may have procreation privileges revoked.

Ministry of Truth
People’s Republic of New Zealand

PaulT (profile) says:

I’m all for encouraging parents to actually look at the ratings applied to videogames and, you know, *parent* instead of trying to get entertainment banned for the rest of us. But, jail time is probably a bit too far…

Oh and for all the “commie” idiots who seem to be in force tonight: grow up. Or, at least work out what it is you’re protesting against here.

It’s simple: NZ, like most of the rest of the world, has entertainment ratings systems that are mandatory and/or enforced by law. The US is the lucky country exempt from that. All this proposed NZ law is suggesting is that rather than simply attacking the people who sell games to underage kids, they should also go after the clueless parents who act as a loophole. As long as parents are willing to buy M rated games for their 8 year old kids, the ratings are meaningless.

This is the wrong way to educate those parents, but at least they don’t have Jack Thompson (or whoever his successor is going to be) to contend with while they work out the best strategy…

Slackr says:

We who have no children know best

First Helen (ex NZ Prime Minister) was telling us to go back to work and let the state babysit our kids in childcare. Now the chief censor (who is openly gay) jumps on the bandwagon – let’s fine parents for money they don’t have or won’t have to better their kids – if they can’t pay throw them in jail.

Question: in this age of single parent families, who watches the children while mummy is in jail?

To my knowledge neither of these ‘leaders’ have children or know the basics of raising one.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Welcome to Modern Society

The reality is that modern society is too complex for parents to bear the sole responsibility for raising children. That’s why we have schools and schoolteachers: and just to reinforce the point, we have legal penalties for parents who don’t send their kids to school.

Basically, raising kids has now become the shared responsibility of a whole bunch of professionals. And like it or not, that includes the State.

Slackr says:

Re: Welcome to Modern Society

I don’t think anyone debates that kids lives will be input by a variety of teachers over their lifetime. The problem is with where the bulk of the responsibility lies. When the state takes too much responsibility it is disempowering parents who are ultimately the best people for the job and who have the biggest influence.

What you want is parents to be actively engaged with their children and actively parenting. The state stepping in constantly allows parents to never have to think for themselves, they just listen and do what they’re told.

bulljustin (profile) says:

Wow, just wow.

Mike I normally agree with what you have to say however I take exception on this one. The long term effects of violent video games are just now coming to the fore. Since they take so long to manifest most people fail to see any correlation. Like others have said, a kid playing GTA is illegal in NZ. Your closing question might be more accurately phrased, “Which do you think would do more harm to a child? Having their parent teach them that breaking the law is okay or learning if you break the law you get in trouble?”

The general erosion of a society’s cultural mores begins first with odious and idiotic laws, many of which are hard if not impossible to enforce, then by the populace realizing there is legal “wiggle room” for a few laws, and finally the populace branching out to ignore whatever laws they don’t like.

Unfortunately, democracies and republics tend to overreact to things, then rush out legislature that is ineffective and often hurts more than it helps because these politicians have to appear to be “doing something”. The politician’s syllogism very much applies here.
“We must do something.
This is something.
Therefore, we must do this!”

The problem here is not the individual in charge of enforcing these laws, it’s the people who require their elected leaders to react prior to understanding the problem. It’s also the politicians who believe they already know everything and are right about it, backed up by left-wing and right-wing extremists. It sounds like NZ needs a good Libertarian candidate.

Chargone (profile) says:

actually, this particular law doesn’t seem that stupid to me
we have r13, r16 and r18. which are a Different Thing from M rated games. it is illegal to sell those items to someone under the listed age. this also applies to movies in all forms [and pornographic magazines and the like], incidentally. this means things that are refused classification in Australia often aren’t here. [I’ve seen things with ‘banned in Australia’ as a big selling point label on the cover].

while the boundaries between G, PG, and M[most games worth playing end up as M] are often debatable, i have yet to come across anything with an R rating that didn’t well deserve it.

for years, people have been jumping up and down about how violent video games are bad for kids etc. the usual response is ‘well, then, parent, stop being an idiot and actually pay attention to what your kid is doing’. none the less, people keep trying to get the things banned.

i would actually say this is a step in the right direction. with this in place, it is the Parents responsibility to look after their kid, and if they break the law [which has been the law for a long time] they are punished accordingly.

now, admittedly, it’s also been well proven that single parent families don’t do so well. putting a parent in jail will tend to result in such a situation, at best. as a consequence i would hope jail time were only used for unrepentant repeat offenders.

on the Other hand, fines make perfect sense. employed properly, the point in a fine is NOT to punish someone after the fact, though it does that too. it is to discourage people from committing the infraction in the first place.

admittedly, like any law, it needs to be enforceable. if you can’t enforce it, it’s just one more level of decay in the system.

oh, and whoever brought up the anti smacking thing? yeah. one of the stupider moves our government has made in recent times.

stupid rubber stamp…

Anonymous Coward says:

Parents Prerogative

Apparently parenting is no longer for parents, but for Bill Hastings to determine what is, and what is not appropriate:

Yeah, it should totally be up to the parents to determine what is appropriate for their kids. If a parent wants to let their kids smoke or drink or do drugs or watch porn or play violent video games or even have sex with them, then that should be up to the parents and everybody else should just butt out.

Not even.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Parents Prerogative

If a parent wants to let their child do those things, that’s their prerogative. As long as they’re not forcing their child to do those things, and they’re not letting their kids harm other kids (or encouraging them to do so), the government should not interfere in the upbringing of a child.

Chargone (profile) says:

I’m not Entirely sure, but i suspect rapelay would be R18 if it were classified at all…

it may actually be objectionable enough to be outright banned, but I’m not entirely sure on that one. [mostly because i can’t remember the actual upper limit of the R ratings. frankly, i don’t even touch R16 stuff in the first place anyway, so anything over that i really couldn’t care less about.]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Reminds me of a law here in Ohio. In order to “protect the children” retailers must check ID on the sale of certain items — glue, paint, solvents, etc — in order to keep kids from huffing them.

Never mind that you could go to the pharmacy, grab a crapload of over-the-counter DRUGS and take them through the self checkout without raising any red flags…

Sniffing glue is bad. Getting blitzed on benadryl is ok?

trollificus says:

"It's the law!!"

People who advocate slavish adherence to the law are enablers of tyranny. Such advocacy presupposes a) the omniscience of the State and its agents (Politicians! We’re talking about fucking politicians here!!) b) that laws are actually passed “for the good of the people”, as opposed to “the good of the State” and c) that there exists a real, as opposed to theoretical, mechanism to repeal or alter bad laws.

In the US, those postulates are laughable.

If you want a citizenry comprised of a wide variety of people possessing a wide variety of viewpoints (the much-lauded “diversity”), including viewpoints of which you disapprove, let parents paretn. If you want to produce a citizenry of interchangeble production/consumption units (good for the oligarchs and autocrats), let the State do it.

Remarkable how many people would choose the latter…presumably for others.

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