Will Prohibiting Kids from Playing with Toy Guns Help Prevent Future Mass Shootings?Meredith Carroll
NBC News is reporting that in the wake of the atrocities in Newtown, some parents are imposing toy-gun control and putting their children’s pretend weapons of destruction straight in the literal trash.
While no one has suggested that toy guns directly contribute to violence with an actual gun, there is increased chatter that violent video games and things like toy guns can desensitize children from the would-be consequences of their actions in real life.
But one psychotherapist told NBC News that toy guns should only be of concern if a child plays with them to the exclusion of all other toys.
“Playing with a toy gun is not necessarily a worrisome sign,” Constance Katz, co-founder of the child and adolescent psychotherapy training program at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology in New York, said. “The focus should not be on playing with guns, it should be on the total emotional life of the child.”
Katz calls throwing out toy guns an “overly simplistic response.”
At the same time, though, Dr. Leonard Sax, author of “Boys Adrift,” argues that things like violent video games are causing “a growing proportion of boys who are disengaged not only from school but from the real world.”
Instead of dismissing toy guns, even non-gun owning families need to think about the role they play in preventing gun violence, and recognize that they play an important role by potentially prohibiting shoot ’em-up games of any type on their time and turf. Meaningful measures can and should be taken at home — in addition to any petitions we sign or politicians we call on to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in an effort to prevent another Newtown and other, smaller-scale gun-related deaths and tragedies.
Still, some parents fear a total ban on toy guns and violent video games will just make their kids more anxious to seek them out — behind the back of their family.
“I’d rather not make it taboo and forbidden but let him play with certain rules,” one mom said of her son to NBC News.
Has your view on toy guns and violent video games changed in the aftermath of Newtown?
Photo credit: iStock