Lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit the use of warlike or violent video games, war toys, military ranks in public agencies and even salutes among members of the police forces.
The measure is No. 19.613, and the basis is the theory that warlike video games and products have a negative effect on children, increase their aggressive behavior and alter their values. They are basically the same fears that were expressed in the 1950 comic book scare and in the 1960s-70s concern about violence on television.
The summary for the bill does not cite any academic literature and only footnotes an article from the Spanish education ministry. However, the summary assumes a causal relationship with video games, war toys and other indications of the military and violence.
When it was introduced in June, the measure had the support of 20 lawmakers.
The bill went to the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Económicos, where the director of the Hospital Nacional de Niños appeared Wednesday to speak in favor.
The director, Olga Arguedas Arguedas, said that the warlike products generate negative empowerments and aggressive conduct and create a tense atmosphere in social spaces that contrast with the good customs, principles and values of the Costa Rican society, according to a summary provided by the legislative staff.
The law would prohibit the making, importation, sale, distribution, commercialization and advertising of warlike toys and prohibit the sale of video games with warlike, military or violent content.
And it would prohibit the sale of these video games to minors.
Also prohibited would be the importation of military-type clothing, including camouflage, with the exception of security forces.
Also prohibited would be military symbols, ranks and use of military language by public officials. The security ministry would have two years to eliminate these, even though the agency has taken steps in the past to change the names of ranks for terms that did not sound like they were military.
If merchants have prohibited toys on their shelf when and if the bill is passed, they would have two years to sell or eliminate them, and they would have to put stickers on the package covering 75 percent of the surface warning of the danger of war toys.
Various agencies would be empowered to determine appropriate video games, and the police agencies would be able to confiscate items that violate the law, said the bill.
Violations would bring fines and perhaps closing of commercial establishments, it said.
Director Arguedas said that violence among children is increasing. She said that in 2006 there were 2.5 such cases at the hospital each day, In 2014 there were 6.4, and this year there have been nine cases a day, she said.
The bill summary said that the frequent use of warlike video games or those with violent content alters the conduct of children and reflects a lack of concentration in personal and academic activities and the abandonment of family responsibilities and that this interferes with their growth and development and a slow erosion of academic learning and general development.
The bill itself defined warlike objects or replicas that are guns, knives, throwing weapons, spears, military vehicles such as tanks, military aircraft, combat ships, and even items used by the security forces here.