Two years after Danny Petric’s conviction, violent videogames are still being blamed for the young man’s crimes.
Remember Danny Petric? The Ohio teenager who killed his mother and shot his father after they wouldn’t let him play Halo 3? Since his conviction back in 2009, there hasn’t been too much media attention surrounding his case, but it looks like that’s all about to change, as a recent TV news feature has just run a feature that includes a teen killer “expert” and Petric’s father blaming games for the teen’s crimes in 2007 .
True crime writer Phil Chalmers, who has apparently twenty-five years researching juvenile killers, recently was interviewed (along with Danny’s father, Pastor Mark Petric) by Virginia-based WTKR News. Chalmers was presumably interviewed because he covered Danny Petric’s case in his 2009 book Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer, and he claims that the boy had two of the “top ten causes” of teen shootings: depression and “an obsession with violent media/videogames.”
Pastor Petric backed up this argument, talking about how his son was obsessed with Halo 3, including the fact that the young man took the game with him when he fled his home in his parents’ stolen mini-van. “You know, the only thing he took with him was that video game,” Pastor Petric said. “Was he obsessed? Oh yea, big time!”
Pastor Petric’s stance against games may seem wrong, but it’s at least understandable. If my son had murdered my wife and shot me in the head after an argument about letting him play a violent videogame, I’d probably believe that the game had helped warp my kid’s personality a bit, too. Chalmers, meanwhile, just seems like someone who’s willing to misrepresent facts in order to further his cause and sell more copies of his book.
During the news piece, Chalmers disagrees with claims that there isn’t a link between violent youth crimes and videogames: “The medical community has released a joint statement that says if children are exposed to violent media, they’re gonna become violent. But they make it politically correct by saying some or maybe.”
That last statement seems particularly untrue. Exactly which “join statement” Chalmers is citing isn’t obvious, but it seems like it’s totally the opposite of what other studies have claimed. On top of that, a quick Amazon search reveals that Chalmers’s book isn’t all that big a hit with readers because all it does is feature, “a bunch of vague correlations to a bunch of nonsense excuses: The devil/video game/music/movies/drugs/doctors/bullies made me do it. Pretty much everything is to blame except the kids or their parents …”
There’s a lot of things wrong with this piece of TV news, solely based on the fact that it’s an alarmist puff piece that features a lot of vague accusations without any real facts to back up the claims. But, if you decide to watch the actual video footage of the story, you can see how utterly negligent it was with actual fact checking: It shows Halo 3 being played on a PS3.