Campaigners in Pakistan have started a drive to ban toy guns in the country to curb an increasing culture of violence among children.
Nongovernmental organizations, poets, singers, and peace activists plan to fight back by staging walks, petitioning the authorities, and talking to parents and shopkeepers.
"If we expose our children to these things from a tender age," says Sana Ijaz, a peace activist, "it will not be difficult for them to fall into the hands of extremists when they are teenagers. The extremists can easily trap them into conducting a suicide bombing or being trained for other similar violent acts. Childhood exposure to toy guns can make them easily adapt to using weapons [when they grow up]."
Though, this is a positive initiative, it is not a solution to the problem of growing violence. To give the drive credit, it is a step forward and it has started debate at least in a society that has so far never even considered this a problem.
Yes, violence is a learned behavior and that violent video games, action figures, and television and films send the message that violence is acceptable, but that is not all. Toy guns don't kill people, people kill people. It’s the mindset, the conditioning, environment that all come together to breed violence and aggression in a person and in turn a society.
Exposure to violence, mental health and societal norms and values are just a few possible culprits.
The drive in Pakistan for instance started from the tribal areas- a place where the custom of enmity and vengeance is centuries old and a salient part of individual brought up. An aggressive person intent upon killing will not wait for a gun or a sword or a knife. A rock, a chair or even a home ornament can be used as a weapon not to mention one’s bare hands!
A similar debate is going on in the US for quite some time.
They are also adamant upon gun control since shooting rampages have become unfortunately rampant! Yes, such actions and precaution do help but more important is to focus on other factors in the society as well that are just as important as gun control, if not more.
When attention is put more on banning toys and not as much on other factors, that in itself is a thing to worry about. In Maryland earlier this year, a child was suspended for biting a pop tart into the shape of a gun and another one for making a gun gesture with his hand and saying ‘pow’!
This is paranoia and not a positive solution to the problem. Unfortunately paranoia is all we’ll be left with if we keep beating around the bush and not take direct aim (pun NOT intended) at the problem!