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Headteachers have warned parents that they will report them to the police

29 March 2015 1,770 views 4 Comments

Nadia Komami Guardia Julie Henry Sunday Times
Sunday 29 March 2015
A scene from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Photograph: AP

Games Call of Duty
Headteachers have warned parents that they will report them to the police and social services for neglect if they allow their children to play computer games rated for over-18s.
Group of 16 schools in Cheshire say allowing children to play games containing unsuitable levels of violence and sexual content is neglectful

The warning was issued by the Nantwich Education Partnership, a group of 15 primary schools and one secondary academy in Cheshire, after it was discovered that some children had been playing or watching games that contain unsuitable levels of violence and sexual content.
These included Gears of War and Call of Duty, of which the latter became mired in controversy after the Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik claimed he had trained himself by playing the game for years.
The heads wrote that playing such games or accessing certain social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp could lead to “early sexualised behaviour” and leave children “vulnerable to grooming for sexual exploitation or extreme violence”.
They continued: “If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+, we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.”
Mary Hennessy Jones, the head who drafted the letter, told the Sunday Times: “We are trying to help parents to keep their children as safe as possible in this digital era. It is so easy for children to end up in the wrong place and parents find it helpful to have very clear guidelines.”
Parents’ groups said reporting families for allowing children to play unsuitable computer games was a step too far.
“Accepting the huge concerns about these violent games and their effect on children, I think the schools are stepping outside the realm of what is probably acceptable,” said Margaret Morrissey, from the pressure group Parentsoutloud.
“It will be construed by many parents as a threat and it is not helpful. If schools want to get the support of parents and gain their confidence, threatening them with social services will not help.”
Morrissey acknowledged there was “huge pressure” on teachers to report safeguarding concerns, placing them in a no-win situation. However this could be a step to far
Elaine Halligan, London director of the Parent Practice, which offers training for parents, said: “Lots of adults think coercion is the key, and we absolutely don’t agree with that. We think it’s all about communication, connection and trust. What this warning does is break down trust, not only between parent and child, but also parent and teacher.”
Halligan said games such as had 15-rated versions that were “cleverly created to fill the gap and suck young people into the franchise”.
“So I absolutely get why they , the head teachers are doing it – it’s because children do need to be protected from technology. But to get the social services involved is an absolute disaster, because it starts telling parents that we don’t trust you to be responsible for your children.”
The pressure on teachers and social workers to report concerns about children has been mounting. This month David Cameron announced that adults in positions of responsibility could face prison sentences of up to five years if they failed to report allegations of neglect or abuse of children.
Department for Education guidance on safeguarding states that all school staff have a responsibility to identify children who are victims or likely to be victims of abuse, and to “take appropriate action, working with other services as needed”.

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  • Owen said:

    If a child is being allowed to play 18 rated games then the parents cannot be trusted

  • Felicity said:

    I wholeheartedly applaud these schools for taking a stand and hope all others adopt a similar approach to protect our children.
    I would hope the parents are made to realise their own harmful, irresponsibility in exposing children to these inappropriate games. They are certified as 18 years+ products for a reason. Let children enjoy being children.

  • Lee Ingram said:

    The Head stated that playing such games and using social media can lead to “early sexualised behaviour” and leave children “vulnerable to grooming for sexual exploitation…”

    The education system has sexualised my daughter from her last year in Junior school with Sex Lessons whilst I make sure my daughter doesn’t play such games and I have policed her on social media successfully so far.

  • Barry Jackson said:

    I wonder if these are also the sort of parents who would consider “The Lord’s Prayer” offensive and unsuitabe reading for their children. I only said “I wonder.”

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