Buy a Gun for your
buy a gun for your son right away, Sir. Shake his hand like a man
and let him play, Sir. Let his little mind expand, place a weapon
in his hand, for the skills he learns today will some day pay, Sir."
are from a Tom Paxton song back during the dark, bloody days when
we were trying to save Vietnam from Vietnamese. Do kids learn violence
by playing with toys of violence, or is "blasting Granny"
just a healthy way to release pent-up feelings of hostility?
is evidence that being raised on a diet of violence begets violence,
and many studies have found a that children
who watch violence on TV, be it cartoon superheroes or horror
movies, tend to get into trouble a lot more than the kids who don't.
We may not be able to control TV and movies as much as we'd like
to, but we can control a kid's violent toy supply. Buying a kid
an "action" figure, violent video game, or even boxing
gloves puts the parental seal of approval on the behavior which
that item embodies.
When I was
a kid during World War II, which was billed as another of those
wars to end all wars, we had a steady diet of trigger-pulling fun.
We had cap guns, pop guns, rubber-band guns, squirt guns, BB guns,
22 rifles, and other assorted play weaponry from cardboard machine
guns to model fighter planes. In the movies, 99% of the problems
faced by the "Good Guys" were solved by using weapons.
In our play with toy weapons, it was always "bang! bang! You're
dead!" Was it any surprise that I ran out and joined the Marines
as soon as I was old enough? "Bang! Bang! You're REALLY dead!"
I once saw
a bumper sticker that said "Guns don't kill people. People
kill people." Later, I saw another that said, "Guns don't
kill people, people WITH guns kill people." One wonders whether
the kids killed at Columbine HS by disgruntled classmates would
still be alive if our culture did not glorify violence and make
killing an acceptable way to solve problems.
also discourage friends and relatives from giving their children
toys of violence. TVs can be tuned to nature shows instead of "superhero"
cartoons. Adults can preview and control what kids watch. Parents
can discuss the issue. The argument, "If I don't let them play
with war toys at home, they'll just do it elsewhere", is about
as stupid as saying, "If I don 't let them do crack cocaine
at home, they'll just do it elsewhere." It is time to rethink
how we relate to other human beings, and teach our children non-violent
conflict resolution and how to treat others with respect. As parents,
we need to seriously consider the effect the toys we give our children
may have on them. The lyrics in Tom Paxton's song may be a bit sarcastic,
but those of the song "Let Peace Begin With Me" are not.
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