24 December 2009

Parents Urged to Take Out Toy Guns in Kids’ Gift List

Quezon City. Parents should refrain from giving replicas of handgun, automatic assault rifle, submachine gun and other weapons of war and violence as Christmas presents to children.

Toy guns are sold at popular prices and are favorite gift items, especially for young boys. They bear a close resemblance to real weapons and are marketed, as shown in some product labels, for their “realistic sound blaster” and for “simulating a true to the war form.”

Health, environmental and peace advocates pleaded with parents to give a crystal clear message to kids that guns, including imitation guns, are not fun and not suitable for children to play with and use.

“Giving toys that make violence seem like fun reinforces this negative learning even more. Would you even think of gifting the child Jesus with a toy gun?’ stated Marie Marciano of the EcoWaste Coalition, adding that “lest we forget, the gifts we give on Christmas are really our gifts to the Prince of Peace whose birthday we are celebrating.”

“In lieu of toy guns, we encourage parents to pick age-appropriate and non-hazardous gifts that promote a culture of creativity, harmony, and peace, and not that of prejudice, war and violence. We urge parents to take action to stop the merchandising of violence to susceptible children and proclaim that violence is not child’s play,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Joining the EcoWaste Coalition in reminding parents to shun toy guns were breastfeeding campaigner Ines Fernandez, educators Tessa Oliva and Eileen Sison, health rights advocate Dr. Leah Samaco-Paquiz, environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, entrepreneur Baby Reyes, green beauty queen Cathy Untalan, and Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.

Parents send conflicting messages to their kids when they tell them to stay away from trouble and violence, but then give them toy guns to play with, the advocates emphasized.

“Kids are in formative stage,” pointed out Tessa Oliva of Miriam PEACE. “Exposing children to toy guns make gadgets of violence an ordinary part of life as if it were a normal thing to be used in life when in fact it can be hazard that can end life.”

“They will imbibe the violence mentality until it becomes a habit and a way of life. Then we produce a society of violent people,” added Dr. Leah Samaco-Paquiz of Ang Nars, Inc., an association of nursing professionals.

Parents should be reminded that the toys they give to children carry the message that they approve of those toys.

Atty. Golly Estenzo-Ramos of the University of Cebu, College of Law commented that “when we give kids a gun, what lesson do we give them? That it is okay to kill? A gun is a tool of violence, of control and of domination. It smacks of destruction and lack of respect for the sanctity of life.”

“Guns are made to kill. Their replicas symbolize the real thing. In the hands of children, gun toys condition their minds that it is alright to shoot and kill others,” said Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.

For her part, Cathy Untalan of Miss Earth Foundation advised parents to “give gifts that reflect your dream future for your children and ones that will help your children realize this dream such as books and educational toys.”

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