An 8-year-old boy reportedly killed his 90-year-old relative, who was taking care of him in her Louisiana home. The boy had apparently been watching the violent video game Grand Theft Auto, and then picked up a gun and shot his caregiver, Marie Smothers, in the back of the head as she watched television. The boy, because of his age, is not being charged. This is a tragedy -- but it also sounds like a recipe for disaster. At that age, kids will mimic what they see. How many times have you seen a kid want to do what they see on TV, or in movies, or in a book. Combine a violent videogame with a gun, and who knows what will happen. In this case, a killing happened.
Police believe that the child did it intentionally. I have no doubt he did not understand the gravity of his actions. At eight, a kid doesn't understand death, the permanence of it. He was probably just reenacting what he saw on the video.
Perhaps video games don't cause violence. But if you put enough stuff into a kid's head, that's the actions that come out. Tell a kid he's stupid enough times, he thinks he's stupid. Tell him he can fly, and he'll probably start flapping his arms and trying to "fly" around the room. Why would a videogame be any different?
Obviously, a loaded gun and a child who can access it are not a safe combination. I feel for the child, who will one day understand what he did. Who will one day be able to grasp that he killed someone he cared about. Reportedly, the child will be given counseling.
The boy apparently came from a "stable" family and was living with his relative to enroll in a school nearby. Said a detective:
From accounts of relatives of the victim, as well as friends of the family, the victim and the juvenile had a normal, loving, relationship and even shared the same bedroom.
Say what you will about video games, but the police have no doubt it played a role in the homicide. Said the detective:
Although a motive for the shooting is unknown at this time investigators have learned that the juvenile suspect was playing a video game on the Play Station III Grand Theft Auto IV, a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred.
It's unclear if the boy's parents knew that the relative had a gun in her home, or where she kept it. But he is now in the custody of his parents.
Yet another gun killing involving a child. I don't know when people will learn that guns and kids don't mix. Add in a violent video game and tragedy isn't far away.
Do you think the videogame had anything to do with what happened?
Image via WAFB