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VIOLENCE

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There have been several crimes that have led British people to reflect on the causes of violence in our society. One case involved a married couple, who sexually abused a number of women, murdered them and then buried them under their house. A second case involved a member of a gun club, who walked into the sports hall of a Primary School and gunned down all the members of a class and their teacher. A third case involved two young boys who battered a baby boy to death after abducting him from a shopping centre.

Crimes involving both violence and sexual abuse lead to attempts to limit the availability of magazines and videos that link the two. Some sex shops dealing in sado-masochism have been forced to close. The content of films, such as "Belle de Jour", involving the violent treatment of prostitutes, has also been questioned. Certain films involving gratuititous violence such as "Clockwork Orange" have been censored in Britain, because of the bad example that they set for young people.

Crimes involving guns have led to new legislation in Britain banning the possession of hand-guns in spite of the strong opposition put up by shooting clubs. Many parents refuse to buy toy guns for their children, not wanting them to associate war with play. It is difficult to shelter children in this way since they are constantly exposed to violence as entertainment in the form of books, comics and television cartoons.

The case involving the young boys led many people to ask whether violence is inborn or whether it results from poor parenting, allowing children to surf the web unsupervised or to access video nasties, for example. Current concern is directed towards the Internet. The lack of censorship means that children can search for potentially damaging texts and pictures and to make contact with strangers on chat lines.