Should Bully Game Get Punched Out?

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Bully: Just for fun?

Photo: Rockstar Games

Youth workers, beware of this guy: Jimmy Hopkins is a rambunctious 15-year-old boarding school student who gets his kicks from dunking peers’ heads in toilets, putting itching powder in their clothes and exploding firecrackers in their faces. Luckily, Hopkins can only wreak make-believe havoc: He’s the main character in a new video game, “Bully: Scholarship Edition.”

Although representatives of Rockstar Games, which developed “Bully: Scholarship Edition” and its predecessor, “Bully,” say the game is meant to be humorous, a coalition of eight teachers’ unions in six countries, including the National Education Association in the United States, say the game glorifies bullying and violence. They’ve asked retailers to refuse to sell it.

But Izzy Kalman, a Staten Island, N.Y.- based school psychologist who writes and lectures on bullying prevention and runs, said the call to ban the game is “ridiculous.” He pointed to statistics that show a 30-year decline in violent juvenile crimes, despite an increase in violent entertainment over the same period, as evidence that video games do not directly influence children’s behavior.

(What can’t be determined, of course, is whether the crime decline would have been greater without such games.)

“This game is only a fantasy and allows us to safely do things we wouldn’t do in real life,” he said. “We shouldn’t take away all exciting entertainment from children.”