Knife crime may be a big talking point but one aspect rarely subjected to serious scrutiny is the influence of graphic violence which is sold to young people as entertainment.
Are people loath to discuss this because they may be regarded as the new Mary Whitehouse (heaven forbid), or perhaps accused of stifling ‘art’ or paving the way for a revival of vigorous censorship?
If we think youngsters should take guidance from their elders because we have the moral high ground and deplore violence, why are there films such as Prom Night (cert 15) being released, described in a review as the ‘most pitiful slasher flick of the year’?
In another paper, a different movie was described as a ‘gory splatter-fest’.
Can we justify our moral indignation at young people attacking each other for pleasure when we offer them ever-increasing gore in computer games and DVDs, as well as in mainstream films?
Talk about mixed messages. It is after all adults who are glorifying violence in the media and making lots of money out of it; not simply just teenagers following the crowd.
Yes, there are many well balanced lads and lasses out there who would never be influenced by the current fashion for gore even though they see the films and buy the games, and my own daughter, a psychology graduate, tells me there is little evidence to support my worries.
But consider the very young or the vulnerable, some of whom do not have positive influences at home to help balance their personalities and keep them anchored to reality, and who grow up thinking cruelty is normal, even cool.
We have always enjoyed a certain amount of blood and thunder in our dramas but even Shakespeare knew when to stop.
A constant diet of killing, maiming and torture would make anyone desensitised and it was interesting that the terrible recent murder of two French students was matter-of-factly described by a detective as ‘like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film’.
We can’t go on offering youngsters films of hand over their weapons with the other.
If we want to stop the slaughter on the streets, we at least owe them some consistency.