Violence in the Media Coalition


By Valerie Smith
The Free Radical

In October 2005, the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) brought together a diverse group of organizations to form an ad hoc committee on media violence to:

(a) explore the impact of media violence on students and classrooms, and
(b) develop recommendations to appropriate levels of government directed at:
     (i) reducing access to violent media materials by children and youth, and
     (ii) addressing the role of effective school programs in mitigating the impact of media violence on children and youth.

Professor Peter Jaffe, a Trustee with the Thames Valley District School Board, put forward the motion urging OPSBA to form this committee.  Professor Jaffe is, among other things, the Academic Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children at the University of Western Ontario, and he has been involved in the media violence issue for many years.

OPSBA adopted the Thames Valley Resolution at their 2005 AGM  (click here to read the Resolution).  The first meeting was held in Toronto in October 2005, and the committee continues to meet several times a year. There were 6 people, excluding OPSBA staff, at the initial meeting, but the number has since doubled to bring an impressive and diverse group together. At Peter Jaffe's request, I joined the Committee where I served as a member from October 2005 until June 9, 2008.  It was a pleasure to work with such dedicated and enthusiastic people. 

The member groups include:

*  Ontario Public School Boards' Association
*  Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
*  Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness
*  Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children
*  Ontario Provincial Police, Crime Prevention Section
*  Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (click here to read an article written in their newsletter by Dr. Jaffe)
*  Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association
*  Ontario Elementary Catholic Teachers' Association
*  Ontario Principals' Council
*  Ontario Student Trustees' Association
*  Ontario Teachers' Federation
*  Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association
*  Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations

Kudos to Peter for being the driving force behind this venture. What has become evident at the meetings, is that there is a significant level of concern about the influence of violent media on children and youth, and this Committee provides people with a place to brainstorm and lobby for solutions.

Educators have, in fact, been at the forefront of media violence initiatives in Canada for many years. The Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF), for instance, was one of the founding members of the Coalition for Responsible Television back in the early 1990s (an organization that grew out of the Hincks Institute Conference on Television Violence in 1993), and the CTF released important research on the media consumption habits of Canadian children in 2003.

This cause lost an important and influential advocate when Ontario's Office for Victims of Crime was dismantled and turned into an advisory board by the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, so it's very encouraging to see the OPSBA Committee in action.