Before we had a preschool/playgroup in our community, we used to take turns gathering in each other’s homes for “mommy/daddy and me” socialization gatherings. On one occasion, a mother brought a bag full of toy soldiers to the play date at my house. I was extremely uncomfortable as the shooting and killing of these little plastic guys ensued. As a child, I never played with toy soldiers or guns, as typically these toys are reserved for boys. As a parent, I have consciously chosen to avoid such toys for my son, as I believe “peace begins in the home”. Why would I want to promote violence in my child’s play time?
[social_buttons]Luckily, my children are not growing up with real life violence surrounding them like the children of Iraq. It is natural for such violence to enter into children’s dramatic play; however, children in Iraq are often mistakenly assassinated for their toy guns. That’s why the organization La’Onf (the Arabic translation for the word nonviolence) has worked to get war toys banned in the Muthanna province. Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization founded by family members of September 11th victims, explains:
One example of La’Onf efforts to apply nonviolent principles in practical ways in the interests of children is the campaign against war toys.
In too many instances soldiers shot and killed children who were carrying toy guns that looked like real guns.
The campaign began with programs in which children could trade in their toy guns for soccer balls. It then expanded into lobbying efforts. La’Onf’s campaign has now resulted in legislation banning the sale of war toys in the province of Muthanna. La’Onf activists hope to see national legislation passed in the near future.
Many Americans would view such a ban on war toys as a loss of freedom or an interference of parental responsibilities. GI Joe has been a household name since 1964 in the US. Does playing with GI Joe promote violence in children and adults? Psychologists warn violent video games affect children’s aggressive behavior “because (1) the games are highly engaging and interactive, (2) the games reward violent behavior, and because (3) children repeat these behaviors over and over as they play”. Wouldn’t the same be true for dramatic play with toy soldiers and guns?