Cushman School students throw out video games for campaign against virtual violence

MIAMI (WSVN) - Students at a South Florida school are giving up specific video games to show they’re against virtual violence in the wake of the recent Parkland school shooting.

Students at The Cushman School participated in the “Violent Video Game Toss,” a campaign that helps parents raise their children in the media era.

They handed over video games deemed as violent and signed a pledge to never play them again, Friday.

7News spoke with some middle school students who explained why they’re giving up their games.

“I think it’s important because if you play violent video games, you’re gonna have a really bad mindset, and you won’t be able to focus on your schoolwork, and that’s important, so you can get into a good college,” said eighth-grader Ella Sulkin.

Student Yusef Bahahur said it’s for a good cause. “We wanted to make a change after the shooting, so we decided to get a bunch of people together to throw away all the games,” he said.

Phillip Palmer said violent games may be sending the wrong message. “All of these games have blood in them,” he said. “They’re about shooting and killing, and it’s not positive.”

Another student said his parents forbid him from playing these kinds of games. “I’m not even allowed to play gun games,” he said. “My parents won’t let me, so all I play are sports games.”

Parents and teachers at the school were supportive of this initiative.

“It”s very hard for kids to push back all they receive from the outside, even from games,” said parent Pia Petrelli. “It’s violence. That’s why we are putting them here and saying no more.”

Petrelli, the mother of a seventh-grader said that this is a step in the right direction, especially since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting happened last month.

“It’s unbelievable that the amount of violence we have nowadays in our schools,” she said, “and I don’t think that prayers are going to solve none of this.”

Parent and staff member Nick Gilmore is on board. “I just don’t see any real benefit to these kind video games in our society,” he said. “I know they are kind of fun to play, but they don’t really serve any purpose other than that, and it seems like they do have potentially detrimental effects on our kids.”

Arvi Balseiro, who is head of the school, said the campaign is a small step toward bigger things.

“We believe every student, beyond even Cushman’s blue gates, belongs to each one of us,” Balseiro said. “These are the students who are going to become the leaders of tomorrow and developing a healthy growth mindset that will come back and contribute positively to this community and beyond becomes a responsibility for every single one of us.”

Students said they want to do good and grow up to make an impact. “We can be the generation to bring about change like to stop violence, to not let this happen again,” Palmer said.

“Cushman taught me to always have a happy attitude and always be on the correct path to be a good student,” said student Jolie Cannava.

The school also put on a presentation for students where they learned the importance of limiting screen time as well as the research and science behind it.

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