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    Expert: UK Not Addressing Problem of Crime Rise Among Youth But Covering it Up

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    The UK's Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, has stated in an interview with British media that hardcore pornography and video games are contributing to the rise in violent crime by desensitising young people to vicious behavior. With more on this story, Sputnik spoke to Mehzeb Chowdhury, criminologist at Durham University.

    Sputnik: Britain's Shadow Home Secretary has stated in an interview with British media that hardcore pornography and video games are contributing to the rise in violent crime by desensitising young people to vicious behavior. How significant is this and is it true?

    Mehzeb Chowdhury: It's very significant because it's coming from a source that people trust, people believe they should trust, but it's difficult to make a direct correlation between a user's online or virtual activity and their actions in the real world. There simply isn't enough data to support claims like this and it's not the first time that this has happened either.

    Sputnik: Whilst it's clear that there has been a significant rise in violent crime across Britain — I disagree with this rather odd statement from Diane Abbot. However, something that I do agree with, Abbott also accused the government of being too weak on tech giants such as Google and Twitter, saying the social media firms should be compelled to take down extreme content more quickly. Is this case do you think? Should tech giants be more responsible?

    Mehzeb Chowdhury: I think the issue has been at the forefront for about a year after the fake news debate and Facebook publicly having to come out and Mark Zuckerberg having to go to Congress in the US to testify. There is a responsibility obviously for social media platforms to have some community standards, but it's also about people having the right to express themselves. For music, in particular, these days, you don't need to have a record label signing in order to release your music.

    Anyone can sign up with a nominal fee and release music and that's perpetuated the myth that music genres like the drill music scene have contributed to the increase in stabbings in London; while Spotify and other platforms have been blamed for not taking this kind of music down.

    The music or the content — you cannot draw a straight line between what has been posted and the effect it had on the individual and whether they were already going to do whatever they eventually did, and the tragic event would have happen regardless of the social media posts, the music, whether they played video games, and it's just something that people use as a scapegoat.

    READ MORE: UK Police Demand Extra Funds, Search Powers to Tackle Stabbings Surge — Reports

    Maybe for infrastructural failings for cuts to the police or healthcare not being provided or healthcare costs being cut. It's difficult, but there is no empirical research to suggest that any of the claims being made are actually fact. Researchers at Oxford University published research just this year where they found that there was no link between the games that they were playing and aggressive behavior. Any claims being made about video games contributing to aggressive behavior among young people is simply not fact

    Sputnik: Looking aside from the comments she made, what sort of solutions do we need to see to protect young people from violent crime and content? 

    Mehzeb Chowdhury: I think it might actually have a detrimental effect because I mentioned drill music and real musicians claim that the increase in people carrying knives is because of the deep mistrust for the establishment. So a lot of music genres, a lot of the media that's now being criticized are actually listened to by people who think they have been some way marginalized or are on the fringes of society.

    Banning this type of content might actually push them towards maybe the dark web where regulation is even more difficult. Monitoring is difficult. If we do that, then we're not actually addressing the problem, but we're actually just covering it up so that we can feel like we've done something but the problem still remains in the shadows.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

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    crime, Congress, Diane Abbott, Mark Zuckerberg, United Kingdom
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