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"Teaching Kids To Kill"

Operant Conditioning

The third method the military uses is operant conditioning, a powerful procedure of stimulus-response training. We see this with pilots in flight simulators, or children in fire drills. When the fire alarm is set off, the children learn to file out in orderly fashion. One day there's a real fire and they're frightened out of their little wits, but they do exactly what they've been conditioned to do (Grossman & DeGaetano, 1999).

In World War II we taught our soldiers to fire at bullseye targets, but that training failed miserably because we have no known instances of any soldiers being attacked by bullseyes. Now soldiers learn to fire at realistic, man-shaped silhouettes that pop up in their field of view. That's the stimulus. The conditioned response is to shoot the target and then it drops. Stimulus-response, stimulus-response, repeated hundreds of times. Later, when they are in combat and somebody pops up with a gun, reflexively they will shoot and shoot to kill, 75 to 80 percent of the shooting on the modern battlefield is the result of this kind of training (Grossman & Siddle, 1999).

In his national Presidential radio address on April 24, 1999, shortly after the Littleton high school massacre, President Clinton stated that: A former Lieutenant Colonel and Professor, David Grossman, has said that these games teach young people to kill with all the precision of a military training program, but none of the character training that goes along with it.

The result is ever more homemade pseudo-sociopaths who kill reflexively and show no remorse. Our kids are learning to kill and learning to like it. The most remarkable example is in Paducah, Kentucky the school killer fired eight shots, getting eight hits, on eight different milling, scrambling, screaming kids. Five of them were head shots (Grossman & DeGaetano, 1999).

Where did he get this phenomenal skill? Well, there is a $130-million law suit against the video game manufacturers in that case, working itself through the appeals system, claiming that the violent video games, the murder simulators, gave that mass murderer the skill and the will to kill.

In July, 2000, at a bipartisan, bicameral Capital Hill conference in Washington, DC, the AMA, the APA, the AAP and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) issued a joint statement saying that "viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children. Its effects are measurable and long-lasting. Moreover, prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life ...Although less research has been done on the impact of violent interactive entertainment [such as video games] on young people, preliminary studies indicate that the negative impact may be significantly more severe than that wrought by television, movies or music."

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Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, Volume 3, p.159
© 1999 by Academic Press. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.


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