Outgoing president fears effect of cartoon violence on children

 

NEW thinking on violence in society would have to include a critical look at the effect of violent cartoons on young, impressionable children, the outgoing president of the IMO told its annual conference. Three hundred doctors and consultants are attending.

In his address on the opening day in Killarney yesterday, Dr Henry Finnegan said violence was a commonplace feature of cartoons watched by young people.

He went on: "If you have not seen a Tom and Gerry or Roadrunner cartoon recently, you might find it illuminating to count the number of violent incidents depicted in the space of four minutes.

"As for all the all action violence exhibited by the Power Rangers in response to vague, external threats - it certainly appears to result in kicking punching youngsters from three years of age upwards.

"In the age of TV film computer games, video etc, those who produce, finance, market and schedule these programmes, plus parents, have a responsibility to ensure a sense of balance prevails and that the impression is not given to children that violence is, the norm and the only method to be used to resolve differences of, opinion."

Dr Finnegan said that the upsurge of crime related violence in society was linked to drug addiction and the chaotic, unstable lives led by intravenous drug users.

"They usually have to rob and steal to trade goods for the money for the three or four hits of heroin per day to feed their habit.

"Methadone maintenance is a suggested and accepted method to stabilise intravenous drug users. It does work but it does mean long term use and it certainly means a high workload, for the professionals involved.

He added: "Because of overcrowding of available clinic space, there has been pressure put on the profession and the IMO, particularly from politicians, to encourage the IMO General Practitioner Committee to become involved in methadone prescribing."

The committee, Dr Finnegan continued, was not yet convinced that general practice was an appropriate site for the supply and supervision of methadone. New thinking on the issue in Denmark had resulted in the removal of GP based methadone maintenance schemes, with these programmes now available only in the public health clinic system.

"The evaluation of the Eastern Health Board pilot project on a GP based scheme will influence the decision on whether, in the Irish context, general practice is the appropriate site. In the meantime, the IMO counsels GPs against such involvement but encourages them to continue to provide all other health care needs to intravenous drug users," he said.