After watching news reports about the Columbine High School
shootings in Colorado last April, Danielle Shimotakahara of North Bend,
Ore., north of Coos Bay, decided she had seen enough. The horror
witnessed from afar by the North Bend Junior High School 7th grader
motivated her to promote nonviolence in her hometown.
She began researching the effects of video violence on children and crafted a petition to have graphically violent video games removed from public areas frequented by youths.
"Violent video games are just like alcohol and drugs," Danielle said in a telephone interview. "Junior high kids can't walk into a store and buy them. The same should go for violent games."
So the 12-year-old organized an effort to collect nearly 3,000 signatures from friends and members of the community, including state senators, city councilors, and school board members. She also persuaded several Coos County businesses to rid their premises of machines featuring violent video games. Those that complied were awarded a window sticker designed by Danielle that read "Cool-No-Violence."
For her efforts, Danielle was selected as one of two Oregon state honorees for the 2000 "Prudential Spirit of Community Award." The winners receive a cash prize of $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and a trip to Washington for ceremonies in May.
Now Danielle is working with her mother on fund raising to get Lt. Col. David Grossman, an Arkansas psychologist who crusades against video violence, to speak with her peers.
Her principal, John Franzen, said it took a lot of heart for her to follow through on her ideas.
"Danielle has received a lot of positive reinforcement, but she has gotten some flack from her friends who like these games," Mr. Franzen said. "It has taken a lot of courage, but she has been able to weather the storm."
Vol. 19, Issue 24, Page 3