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As screen violence rises, so do new tactics to curb it

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But Peterson doubts regulation can work. In 1999, his city banned sales of adult and mature video games to those under 18, but courts struck down the ban as unconstitutional. Since then, similar legislative efforts across the country have also been struck down. "Let's have a different way of looking at this," says Peterson, "instead of looking at new regulations that run against the First Amendment, let's look at education that will help people become better citizens and parents."

In April, Indianapolis will sponsor a national summit on the topic, to assemble politicians, private citizens, and content creators. The goal is education, not legislation, he says.

Many media experts applaud this move away from reliance on regulation.

"The emerging common ground in this debate is to develop widespread media literacy, to stop reducing complex kinds of entertainment into simplistic political positions that can't and should not be reduced to easy labels of conservative versus liberal," says Peter Lehman, director of the Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture at Arizona State University in Tempe. "The important thing for us to do as a country and as educators is to hold ourselves to our own standards.... Don't dump it on Hollywood or producers and studios, but [let's] realize it is our job to be active, critical evaluators."

Active engagement is the ongoing credo of Act One, a program targeted at Christians who want to work in entertainment.

"For years many have felt Hollywood was not an appropriate place to participate," says screenwriter Chris Riley, who runs the writing program at Act One. "As a result, there is this big gulf. But we can't blame Hollywood for that. We Christians who abandoned Hollywood have to blame ourselves."

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