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'Goosebumps' Author a 'Real Believer in Violence; I Think It’s Good for Kids'

Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine speaks on a panel on day one of Comic-Con International on July 20, 2017, in San Diego. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

WASHINGTON – While promoting the new film Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, based off of his Goosebumps series of books, author R.L. Stine said that violence in Hollywood films and video games is “good for kids.”

Stine, one of the most successful authors in the world with a net worth of $200 million, was asked if he thinks violence in the entertainment industry could influence a young person’s behavior in a negative way.

“I’m a real believer in violence. I think it’s good for kids. One thing I’ve learned in all these years of writing for kids is that kids are really smart and they know the difference between fantasy violence, fictional violence and real violence. They know the difference,” Stine said during a recent interview at the Library of Congress following a discussion about his writing career.

“When you have a battle going on in a video game, that’s one kind of violence. You go out on the street and you see two men having a fist fight, that’s a whole different reaction from people. So I never worry about violence on TV or in movies because I just think kids know the difference,” he added.

Stine, whose Goosebumps TV series from the 1990s is now available on Netflix, told PJM that children have a “lot of violent feelings that they have to get out” in some way.

“I always think that one reason my books are so popular is that kids actually identify with the monsters. Kids, they want to rage, they want to roar, they want to rip things apart, they want to be bad, they have these feelings. And I think if they have it in a book or a movie or something, it helps them get out these bad, these violent monster feelings they have,” he said. “So I’m a big supporter of violence.”

Stine said he disagrees with those who suggest that there is a connection between violence depicted in the entertainment industry and violent acts committed in real life.

“I just don’t agree. When my son was growing up, we let him watch everything, anything he wanted to watch except for one thing. There was only one thing that was banned and that was ‘The Three Stooges’ – that was the only thing he couldn’t see because I knew he would poke somebody’s eye out,” Stine said. “That’s the whole thing in ‘The Three Stooges.’ Ever watch the ‘Three Stooges’? That’s the whole thing, poking in the eyes. We knew he would do that, so that was it. Everything else was fine.

A recent study showed that a third of teenagers haven’t read one book in the past year. Other research has shown a drop in reading for pleasure among children after the age of 8.

Stine was asked if he is concerned about the decline in reading among young people as technology becomes more accessible.

“Kids are reading. I’m very optimistic about kids and reading and I don’t care if they are reading on screens – that’s wonderful. If they’re reading on anything, if they are reading, they are reading stories,” he said. “When I started out in publishing, it was a tiny part of publishers, there would be four women in the back room doing children’s books, that’s when I started. There would be a tiny little staff. It was not part of the business. Now the children’s divisions are the cash cows for most publishers and it’s a $1 billion industry – that means kids are reading, right?”

Stine said the decline in reading has not “trickled down that much to kids.”

“Most parents don’t want to spend $500 on an iPad for their kid, and I’ve seen studies and read things in Publisher’s Weekly about how kids like actual books – they like physical books,” he said. “And so this really hasn’t been a major revolution in kids publishing.”

Goosebumps 2, starring Jack Black, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Chris Parnell, opened in theaters on Oct. 12.