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August 2007
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mrchom [userpic]
Candidate #1 for parent of the year!

I'm going to do something in this post that galls me beyond belief....quote the News of the World.

Now, as some of you may know (if you bother to read anything I write) I am a big supporter of age ratings, they're great, if used properly they prevent people playing unsuitable games.  It's nice to have a board of people reviewing our films and trying their best to stop young kids playing GTA, it really is.

But seriously, people, when I see articles like this one:


By Guy Basnett and Catherine Jones

THE parents of Britain's most violent teenage murderer has revealed how computer games dripping with bloodlust and death turned their son into a twisted killer.

Stuart Harling — who'd seemed a normal loving boy — got life for stabbing nurse Cheryl Moss to death while she was on a cigarette break.

In a sickening random attack the 18-year-old trainee accountant slashed and hacked her 72 times — just like he'd PRACTISED on the PlayStation in his bedroom.

Now, two weeks after he was convicted at the Old Bailey, heartbroken mum Lorraine Harling has confessed she and husband David had NO IDEA of the well of savagery that had quietly built up in their son.

School attendance officer Lorraine said: "Stuart never gave us any reason to think he was violent at all. He was a very normal boy—quiet and reserved. I used to call him ‘my little professor'.

"I knew he was playing the video games but we didn't really know what went on in them, how brutal and graphic they were."

Her words will resonate with anxious parents all over Britain. For the most chilling fact about Harling—who was grooming himself as a serial killer—is how ORDINARY he was.

The mild-mannered schoolboy gained 10 good GCSEs, excelled at maths, led a scout troop and had a bright future.

But every night he would retreat into his darkened bedroom at home in Rainham, Essex, and enter a grisly virtual world that revelled in sadism, ritual blood-letting and death. Just like millions of other youngsters.

One of baby-faced Harling's favourite games was the notorious Manhunt, where players SLASH and SLICE their victims with meat CLEAVERS, cheese WIRE and CHAINSAWS, or suffocate them with plastic bags.

It was banned in New Zealand in 2004 but allowed onto the UK market uncensored.

Lorraine, 45, said: "I know these games are played by kids across the world, but some are truly horrific.

"And if they can cause a trigger to be pulled in someone's head they should be banned.

"Now I feel like people are looking at me, as if I should have read the signs. But I had no idea."

It was on April 6 last year that Harling's dark fantasy life became terrifyingly real. With his parents on holiday in Spain, he donned a long dark wig, sunglasses and jacket from the ‘killing kit' he had spent 10 months amassing on eBay. He then headed out with a large hunting knife.

At 10.30am, he spotted 33-year-old nurse Cheryl, having a smoke in the grounds of St George's Hospital, in nearby Hornchurch, and pounced — plunging the blade repeatedly into her back, neck, face, chest and skull.

Police soon captured Harling after he dumped the ‘kit', which had his address on the mail-order packaging. In Spain his stunned parents could not believe the news.

"I thought there'd been a mistake," said Lorraine.

"For an hour David and I didn't move. We sat there in shock. When we got back and saw him in his cell it was like talking to a stranger. He looked straight through us and gave one-word yes and no answers.

"When I cuddled him, he hardly responded and didn't kiss me. I still didn't want to believe he'd done it, but I think I was trying to kid myself. He was just so cold."

The couple then did not see their son for over a year — until his trial last month. Lorraine said: "He looked the same old Stuart, only he had a beard.

"But the way he was acting wasn't Stuart. I think there are two Stuarts — the one I knew before all this happened, and the one that's there now.

"They're two different people. He's not the Stuart I know."

The trial was told how police discovered that, before the murder, Harling spent days on the internet talking to paedophiles and researching serial killers such as the infamous Dennis Nielsen.

But none of this was known by his parents. They never suspected a thing. Throughout the trial Harling misbehaved. He snarled at the prosecutor: "I'm going to cut your f***ing head off and s*** down your neck!"

Harling had learned the foul threat from a computer game. Lorraine said: "Stuart was 11 or 12 when I bought him the PlayStation. For a long time I didn't even realise games had age limits on them. We'd just buy him the game that all the other kids had.

"I didn't really know what they were about. I think most parents are the same. But Stuart wasn't in his room on the PlayStation all the time. He was a normal boy. He wasn't that outgoing, but he had friends. He never did anything that made us worry.

"I was his mother, but I'd no idea what was happening."

Story courtesy of the News of the World

Yes, I am quoting the entire story, mainly because I don't want to be accused of misquoting the damn thing.

Frankly this just goes to show how bad this woman's parenting is.  I mean, we've had the BBFC rating things for NINETY FIVE YEARS.  Yes, ninety five years of them rating things with a standard system that is on all films, videos, and, over the past 15 years, on most violent video games.  These ratings must be on the front, side, and back of each case, at least one must have a description.  Game shops and videos shops have posters explaining the ratings, and shop assistants need to be able to explain them.

I'm not going to go into the "violent games cause violence" thing, it's stupid, I consider it more of a symptom of a pre-existing fascination with violence that causes people to buy these games.  What I am going to go into is how bad the parenting is.  You don't know what's in the games?  Then you're stupid, and deserve to not have children, it is your responsibility to check up on your what your kid is doing, your responsibility to find out what the BIG RED 18 on the front of the box means.  I mean, if all the other kids had 9mm berettas and a case of dum-dum bullets would you just BLINDLY follow and buy your little kid one?

Frankly I hope she's ashamed of how she parented, but I know she isn't.  She, like all media, blame video games, she blames them because she doesn't understand them, she blames them because she wants any reason other than them to be why her son did this.  I agree, games makers need to get responsible, they need to think about acceptability and work their games in that vein....but conversely parents need to begin parenting and actually spend time with kids who play games, see what they play, and actually bother to look at age ratings.  I mean, come on, what is the point of an age rating system if you ignore it!

People ask me sometimes WHY I'm grumpy.  THIS is one of those reasons.