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News Opinion/Commentary

Australian MP pushes for loot box restrictions

Two children under bed covers playing video games
Image: iStock

Australian Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie is pushimg for restrictions on video games that feature loot boxes.

According to Herald Sun, Wilkie condemned loot boxes as “barely disguised gambling”.

 

What are loot boxes?

According to Parent Zone, loot boxes are “virtual treasure chests”. They allow players to change weapns or characters.

Due to the rise of online gaming, the dynamic of gaming has changed. Buying a computer game is no longer a one – time purchase. Computer games, (including iPads, phones, etc) often require players to buy a subscription, rewards or coins to advance in the game. This is why loot boxes are concerning.

 

Gambling and the role of parents and caregivers

Children gambling is a growing concern. Earlier this year, Sydney Morning Herald reported 40 per cent of NSW children aged 12 – 17 were playing games with features that emulate gambling. 

Games featuring loot boxes, coins and rewards proved concerning. 3.7% of children studied were considered problem gamblers or at high risk.

There are a number of risk factors to this worrying trend. Parents who gamble are a risk factor. 58 per cent of children who gambled also had parents who gamble. 20 per cent had grandparents who did.

This makes sense. Addiction often has a genetic component. Also, parental modelling is important. Children often pick up habits and stressors from their families. This is why I think the issue deserves a holistic approach.

 

Problem gambling and mental health

Problem gambling is mental illness. Fourth Edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV) listed problem gambling as an impulse control disorder.

Additionally, problem gambling often co – occurs with other mental conditions.

According to the Department of Health and Aging, problem gambling has similarities to substance use disorder. People with pre – existing mood disorders, especially depression, are at higher risk for problem gambling.

Chronic isolation can also make problem gambling worse. Due to COVID and restrictions, it wouldn’t be surprising if addictions were exacerbated, including among children and teens.

Politicians need to take mental health seriously if they want to attack this issue. They should seriously consider making all psychotherapies free under Medicare. They also need to ensure there are adequate services.

Additionally, there needs to be adequate guidance counsellors and social workers need to be in schools. 

 

Mother supports Wilkie’s proposal

Faye James, mother of son Pablo, eight, supports the bill.

This kind of bill is fundamental. We need to make parents aware of what they’re getting their kids into. Restrictions and transparency is key.

I don’t disagree that restrictions should be in place. Children should not have free access to gambling – style games.

However, I can’t help but think this is a Band – Aid solution. Focus on mental health and access to appropriate services. Make sure that children get the support they need. And, maybe we’ll see the problem decrease. 

If you are in Australia and you or someone you know is struggling mentally, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a web chat)

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (for people under 25 or their parents or caregivers)

As always, for those outside Australia, feel free to offer any contact information to mental health services below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Maybe the changes needed in the Catholic Church start with parishioners

 

Catholic priest at Mass praying
Image: iStock

CW: sexual abuse

I have been outraged by the latest allegations of reaction from Catholic in light of clergy sexual abuse that came out of Pennsylvania. I have been outraged of the repeated deflection from certain clergy and members of Catholic hierarchy: blaming gay people, secular culture and birth control for the horrific sex crimes that have been happening for decades.

This has made me think that the church still doesn’t get it and that the abuse will still happen, even if it has stopped currently. Frankly, there must be something toxic in the Catholic Church culture to allow such horror to flourish decade after decade. I fear that these issues aren’t being dealt with adequately. Too many clergy and archbishops are too resitant to change, even if it may be beneficial in preventing abuse in the future.

However, it heartened me to read on Patheos this week that some practicing Catholics are starting to bite back. They are demanding change from clergy. One has even slammed the (false) link that has been made between gay men and the rape of pubescent and pre – pubescent children.

This shows to me that, if the Catholic Church will ever change, it won’t be because of clergy. It’ll be because of the demands from parishioners.

It’s parents who take their children to a Catholic parish church who need to demand that their children be treated with respect. They need to be able to place healthy boundaries around their children and clergy and enforce them if need be.

Catholic parents should feel free to defy the Catholic Church and allow their children to learn about healthy sexuality and bodily autonomy. This means giving children correct sex education, the confidence to say ‘no’ to unawanted touch and the ability to speak out if they feel unsafe.

Catholic parents should model respect for people regardless of gender, including their spouses or partners. Young boys should be taught to treat girls with respect and avoid gender superiority. This has been exposed as another issue that has exacerbated the rate of sexual abuse in both the Catholic and Evangelical Church.

Progressive Catholics should stand up against homophobia in the Church. No, LGBTQ+ don’t cause children to be raped. This (false) correlation toward the LGBTQ+ community and sexual abuse can actually prevent male sex abuse survivors from getting help because of the stigma. All churches need to stop this and stop it now. I fear that it doesn’t, Christianity — both Catholicism and Protestantism — will continue to be tarred with the brush of sexual abuse. Plus, it plays right into a predator’s playbook. Why would a victim of sexual abuse speak out if they fear (or know) that they will be shunned because of false beliefs that he and others have about sexuality? So, please, don’t allow your children to grow up with this mentality. If it’s rampant in your congregation, challenge it. I really do feel that your child’s safety may depend on it.

Lastly, I think I need to keep emphasising this. Don’t allow priests or other members of the clergy to impose and use their ‘authority’ without condition. Set boundaries that you and your family are comfortable with. If your boundaries aren’t respected, maybe you need to find another church or another means of worship (i.e. home bible study, etc). You and your family should be your main concern and no one has the right to bully you into thinking otherwise. It’s time Christians (Catholics and Protestants), start fighting back against predators and spiritual abusers in the church. Enough is enough.

If anyone found this post distressing, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Bravehearts 1800 272 831 (Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 4.30 pm Eastern Standard Time)

 

Since this is a global problem, like always, feel free to drop any links or contact details of sexual abuse counselling, psychological help, etc from services in your country. Thank you very much.