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The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, and teachers from throughout the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and North America are calling on parents to boycott the mean-spirited and harmful video game: Bully–Scholarship Edition to be released on March 4, 2008. The producer of the video is the Vancouver-based Rockstar.

“Instead of ridding the schoolyard of bullies as the promotional materials claim, this video trivializes vicious bullying,” says Irene Lanzinger, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation. “It stereotypes female students as either sex-pot cheerleaders or overweight losers.”

In both the 2006 version of Bully and the Bully: Scholarship Edition, the American Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), a non-regulated industry rating group, commented that the Bully video game depicted scenes of violence, crude language, sexual themes, use of tobacco and alcohol, and crude humour. The 2008 version also warned parents that the game shows “animated blood.”

“With bullying and school violence high on the agenda of public concerns, teachers and parents increasingly question the impact of violent interactive media on children’s growing minds and bodies,” says Emily Noble, president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. “The proliferation of cyberbullying via cell phones, the Internet, and blogs, means that victims can now be bullied anywhere with devastating consequences for the victims.”

Despite the video sector being second only to the music industry in profitability, this highly interactive form of entertainment enjoys little government scrutiny or regulation. In April 2001, BC became the first jurisdiction to pass a Video Games Act that would implement a mandatory classification and regulatory system for video games. Unfortunately for children in this province, the Liberal government took power that year and withdrew the legislation.

Notwithstanding this government’s lack of action on the issue, Liberal MLA John Nuraney said in the House, “It may be of interest to this House to know that one of the top video games for boys in Grades 3 to 6 is Grand Theft Auto. While it is admirable that our children of today adapt very quickly to this technology, it is also alarming that without proper guidance and supervision, they can fall victims to the unscrupulous predators.” Unfortunately, the provincial Liberal government does not share its own member’s alarm.

Teachers throughout the world are staunchly opposed to this video which promotes bullying behaviour and violence. We urge parents to refuse to purchase it and, further, to tell their local retailers why. Wal-Mart is one of the distributors.

See Backgrounder for more information.

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For more information, contact Kathleen MacKinnon, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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