KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Teaching Children Violence and Killing

No war toysOne long-term method for decreasing hostility, aggression, and war worldwide is child’s play. Literally.

Ever stopped to think about what’s going on when parents, aunts, uncles, and family friends give children toy guns, soldier costumes, and GI Joe action figures? They’re giving children permission to play at fighting and killing. Let that sink in.

These children may hear their parents say that life is sacred. But how sacred is it really when adults give them the tools to pretend to stab a playmate, to hit, kill? They’re too young to comprehend that some wounds last a lifetime, that death is permanent.

We say, “James, stop hitting your sister!” And then when it’s James’s birthday, we give him a toy sword to play with, in effect saying, Have fun stabbing and killing people!

We say, “Keisha, stop punching your brother!” And then as a special treat for her good behavior, we give her a pop-up clown punching bag, in effect saying, Practice your hitting skills. Hit people where it counts!

We say, “Aaron, don't be a bully.” And then as a gift, we give him a toy rifle, in effect saying, You can make people do anything you want them to by threatening to shoot them.

Children learn what they are taught, whether through overt lessons or through tacit example. They use the tools they are given. This holiday season—and all year through—please give them the lifelong gift of respect for human life. Speak to them of peace with your words and with your actions, with what you give them and what you don’t give them.

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