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Senators target video violence

Two lawmakers put "Grand Theft Auto III" in their crosshairs as they introduce a bid to boost funding to study how different forms of media--particularly video games--affect children.

Sens. Joe Lieberman and Sam Brownback plan to open another front in the war on video game violence.

The lawmakers said Wednesday they intend to introduce legislation that would fund research on how exposure to different forms of media affects children.

Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, singled out video games as a particular area of concern and took yet another swing at "Grand Theft Auto III," the mega-selling PlayStation 2 game in which players take on the role of a small-time hoodlum.

Lieberman said in the statement that the game links violence with sex and rewards players for degrading and killing women. "This is sick and indefensible," Lieberman said. "But beyond being offensive to our values, we should know whether this is helping to nurture misogynistic views and behaviors among young boys."

The planned legislation would create a program within the National Institutes of Health to fund studies measuring the health effects of media on children.

"Although our research base on the power of interactive media to influence children's learning and development is growing, it is still small," said Brownback, a Kansas Republican. "If this nation wants to realize the best for its youth, then additional research funding is essential to provide the information parents need to make informed decisions about their children's health."

Violent video games have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) introduced legislation last year that would have made it a federal crime to sell or rent a violent video game to a minor. The government of Australia banned "Grand Theft Auto III", deeming it unsuitable for minors. And a federal appeals court in St. Louis is reviewing local legislation that bans the sale of violent video games to minors.