Why Children Need Make Believe Violence


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the iron horse
November 10, 2008, 08:14 PM
This thread is about toy guns and make believe fantasy play.
It is,I think,very much gun related.

Before the 1980s (or somewhere along that timeline) kids played with toy guns and it was bang bang shoot um' up. Toy guns,plastic swords,knives...it was cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians. Cartoons had Porky the Pig blasting away with a shotgun and Bugs Bunny was whacky other toons with a bat.

Then along came The Smurfs and Zero Tolerence. Toy guns got marked red at the muzzle and fewer and fewer parents allowed their children to play with them. Point your index finger at a fellow student in kindergarten and find yourself expelled.

I think we all know the sad events that have occured the past ten to fifteen years.

A good book on this topic and really worth reading:
http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Monsters-Children-Make-Believe-Violence/dp/0465036953

What do you think?

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SteelyNirvana
November 10, 2008, 08:58 PM
Toy guns got marked red at the muzzle and fewer and fewer parents allowed their children to play with them.

I always heard the reason why they did this is because an 8yr old pointed a toy gun at a LEO and he mistook it for a real gun and fired at the kid, killing him. I had one of the ones without the plug (mid 80's) when I was a kid, wish I still had it, it would make a good conversation piece.

matrem
November 10, 2008, 09:02 PM
While I'm certainly no expert at this (and,I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night),the timing seems to fall in line.I too,would like to hear other's opinion's.

Evil Monkey
November 10, 2008, 09:45 PM
The ability to act violently is a MUST for any human being. Violence has kept innocent people alive. Violence has won freedom. Violence has brought the human race to the top of the food chain. Violence has brought a steady and safe future for countless people.

Violence is the most important idea in the human mind, for that where ever there is an unjust and irreconcilable action being taken against an innocent party, violence is the only chance for correction.

I want to stress that when the action is unjust (ex: morally/ethically wrong, unlawful) and irreconcilable (ex: all other options for peaceful resolve have failed), then violence will forever be the ONLY way to solve a problem.

Anybody who believes otherwise is one who's likely to be buried early.

bannockburn
November 11, 2008, 08:43 AM
I'm not sure violence is the right word here, or as applied in the context of playing with toy guns. I grew up in the '50's and 60's and can remember playing with those miniature metal cap guns by the time I could walk (I think I still have photos of this somewhere). But when my brothers and I were playing "cowboys and indians" or "army", it wasn't so much about violence as it was about emulating adult behavior (mainly from all the TV shows and war movies we watched); and playing/acting aggressively in accordance with those feelings. We never took the pretend and the imaginary to the next level of actual physical violence on another human being. When you shot someone dead with your toy gun, you never expected them to stay dead, at least not for very long that is! For me, it was just a part of growing up; of putting myself into the adult world, by using toy guns and my imagination, without any thought of real violence or killing and the ramifications that those things can bring. That reality and knowledge would of course come with maturity and real world experience. As far as toy guns and imaginary playtime go, I would say let kids be kids, and let them express themselves what ever way they want, as long as no one gets hurt, and Mom's lamp doesn't get broken.

#shooter
November 11, 2008, 12:20 PM
I am not an advocate for zero tolerance discipline for silly school policies (I believe context actually matters), but I am against children playing with toy guns. Heck, I think playing paintball is a mall ninja sport. I know I’m in the minority here and I am not trying to tell people how to live their lives or raise their children. I just do not think pointing guns at people is polite or a habit a child should develop only to be undone later when it comes time to use real guns. I’m not too fond of pretend killing either. It’s not that I believe pretend killing leads to actual killing. I just think there are plenty of actual killings every day; we don’t need to pretend anymore. Cowboys and Indians is fun to play until you visit a reservation. Playing Army is fun to play until you see your grandfather cry on Veterans Day. Just watch the news for how Cops n’ Robbers works in real life. It is just my personal opinion that certain adult behavior does not need to be emulated or glorified. As far as violent sport is concerned… there is always football, hockey, and martial arts etc to release pent up aggression and energy.

expvideo
November 11, 2008, 12:35 PM
I am not an advocate for zero tolerance discipline for silly school policies (I believe context actually matters), but I am against children playing with toy guns. Heck, I think playing paintball is a mall ninja sport. I know I’m in the minority here and I am not trying to tell people how to live their lives or raise their children. I just do not think pointing guns at people is polite or a habit a child should develop only to be undone later when it comes time to use real guns. I’m not too fond of pretend killing either. It’s not that I believe pretend killing leads to actual killing. I just think there are plenty of actual killings every day; we don’t need to pretend anymore. Cowboys and Indians is fun to play until you visit a reservation. Playing Army is fun to play until you see your grandfather cry on Veterans Day. Just watch the news for how Cops n’ Robbers works in real life. It is just my personal opinion that certain adult behavior does not need to be emulated or glorified. As far as violent sport is concerned… there is always football, hockey, and martial arts etc to release pent up aggression and energy.

I completely disagree with everything you just said. But I don't really want to debate it either, so I'll leave it at that.

32winspl
November 11, 2008, 01:13 PM
I'm 50 yrs old (1958), and sounds like I grew up much like Bannock. It's only a minor point, and I'm not really taking issue with it much, but I never saw adults playing C&I, or war, so I doubt that you or I were emulating adults, other than the fact that they had real guns. If we were emulating anything, it seems like we were pretending to be our favorite tv show characters... Which leads me to ask this of our elders here; those that grew up prior to the advent of TV; did you guys play cops'n'robbers, cowboys' n' indians, and WWl games to the extent that those of us a generation or 2 later did?
I wonder if "Prarie-Schooner" boys played cowboys and indians; if boys in 1800 played at Revolutionary war games.... if Indian boys played "bison-hunter", .

Hmmm. I'll bet medieval kids played their own form of dungeons and dragons, all the way back to Austrolopithecans and Cromagnons. Of course, there's no way for me to know. I am going to guess though, that the "game" (us vs. them) is in the species. Did we always seek to emulate our past heroes or legends?
I would like to hear from our oldest members about any war-like games they played as kids though.

Thanks to the OP for question. I like posts that make me go Hmmm.

rforgy
November 11, 2008, 01:17 PM
I spent several hours Saturday watching the kids across the street playing, They had ray guns, water guns, laser swords, and wooden stick swords and were having a great time hiding behind trees and cars and chasing each other.

I have to admit this is the first time in a long time I have seen this type of play, I recently moved out of the metro area to a small town setting which I am sure has something to do with it. When I was in the big city you did not see kids playing outside at all. I am really enjoying the neighborhood.

SoCalShooter
November 11, 2008, 01:55 PM
Well speaking from my own experience since I was a child at one point, I played with toy guns and had rubberband fights and waterguns and we wrastled and played combat. To date I have never killed anyone or thought about it or ever wished to, and I hate to say it but in the limited life experience I do have, killing and fighting is what makes the world go around. You take that out and we are not human anymore even animals fight regularily for territory.

sophijo
November 11, 2008, 07:13 PM
......anytime you repress something you empower it like putting a lid on a boiling pot.

elrod
November 11, 2008, 07:57 PM
Forbidding anything (alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, etc.) only leads to trials of that taboo. But if you start education on that subject it defeats the curosity of that subject. Using BB guns to slay birds and small vermin taught me the finality of death and the power and responsibility of real guns. After cap guns, I never had the desire to point a gun at a person. I think it is called maturity.

matrem
November 11, 2008, 08:25 PM
"Using BB guns to slay birds and small vermin taught me the finality of death and the power and responsibility of real guns."
That sums it up.

DoubleTapDrew
November 11, 2008, 08:53 PM
Violence (and pretend violence) is a natural instinct and part of being a human. Every creature on earth takes part in it. People think they can train it out of kids by making them play with dolls instead of toy guns. The more they try to regulate things the more screwed up and repressed kids grow up. What happens when you tell a kid something is verboten? You increase his/her interest in it 10-fold. Do it with something like guns and they'll figure out the 4 rules after they accidentally kill someone.

bannockburn
November 11, 2008, 09:40 PM
32winspl

To answer your question; yes my father and his brother played "cops and robbers", complete with toy cap guns and pretend everything else. There were also times when they played "army" too, along with all the other kids in their neighborhood. And of course there were the great medieval sword fights, complete with wooden swords and garbage can lids for shields. Now they didn't have TV back then, but they did have radio programs (lots of imagination at work there), gangster films with the likes of Cagney, Bogart, and Edward G., westerns with Tom Mix and the Duke, and the Sunday comics with Dick Tracy, et al. Even back then it was still just make believe; playing out the scenes they saw in the movie theater or heard on the radio. Just kids playing. And yes, they were emulating adults who were portraying violent or aggressive behavior. But even as kids they knew the difference between their playtime, the make-believe on the movie screen, and the harsh realities of living through the Depression. Yet no one turned to a life of crime, nobody became a violent sociopath from having played with toy guns and toy swords. Nobody got hurt from all the pretend violence and killing. Just kids being kids. And then it was time to grow up, to put away their toy guns, and exchange them for real ones. It was time for them to face the ultimate horror of the thing they had been playing at during their childhood years.

For myself, playing with toy guns was as natural as playing baseball, making model airplanes, or riding a bike. It was about just being a kid. Nothing more, nothing less.

CRITGIT
November 11, 2008, 09:51 PM
Gun Play

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

......anytime you repress something you empower it like putting a lid on a boiling pot.
There's a huge difference between repressing something and saturating one's psyche with it.
We happen to be one of the most violent societies on the face of global...that's right that "turn the other cheek" Christian country.
You don't need a PhD in Child Dev to know that glorified exposures to violence have a tremendous negative impact on developing minds.

That's not to say that the gun is violent but only that the utilization in some cases can be. That's the fault of the operator of the gun, the TV , the video game, the car or any other instrument of choice.


CRITGIT

snead888
November 11, 2008, 11:29 PM
People think they can train it out of kids by making them play with dolls instead of toy guns.
These are action figures, bujeezus. :rolleyes:
(sarcastic if you couldn't tell)
honestly if any kid tried to emulate Looney Tunes it would just prove Darwin's theory. when i was a kid we "played with guns" but some parents would get all fussed up over it and we would have to stop. If children don't imitate violence as a child then they will imitate it as an adult, possibly with a gun. if you teach them consequences early on, it will be instilled in their brain. thats what make believe violence does. shoot him, he dies.

Dr. Fresh
November 12, 2008, 12:25 AM
There's a huge difference between repressing something and saturating one's psyche with it.
We happen to be one of the most violent societies on the face of global...that's right that "turn the other cheek" Christian country.
You don't need a PhD in Child Dev to know that glorified exposures to violence have a tremendous negative impact on developing minds.

That's not to say that the gun is violent but only that the utilization in some cases can be. That's the fault of the operator of the gun, the TV , the video game, the car or any other instrument of choice.


CRITGIT


I'm sorry, but child's play involving guns far predates our current crime problem.

cliffy
November 12, 2008, 12:51 AM
Children, today, are way ahead of us old farts regarding modern technology, ergo firearm technology. My grandchildren outshoot me at the range REGULARLY. To me, this means accuracy counts. Is it the video games? Maybe, but I doubt video games can compensate for 100 yard prowess at the range. I grew up during the fifites with CAP-GUN battles in the back yard. Today, American Children are taught to respect firearms more than ever before. The NRA is responsible for much of this RESPECT and Safety Concern. America and Gun Safety is integral, in large part due to NRA courses. Some of my Grandchildren are still popping out, yet as long as I'm able they will learn proper safety regarding firearms. cliffy

32winspl
November 12, 2008, 12:52 AM
Thanks for your reply Bannockburn. I really am curious now, about the play of earlier generations. I will be visiting my Parents tomorrow and Thursday. While there, I'm going to ask my Dad (74), and my 94 Y/O Grandmother about her older brothers. She's in and out of lucidity; hopefully, this will be among her 'good' times, and maybe she'll be able to tell me about their pre-1920 games. She's generally pretty sharp re her childhood recollections; usually better than what happened "this morning".

As an "aside", 11 years ago, I was waiting at my son's school for classes to be let out. I'd gotten there about 1 1/2 hrs early from my work, had a thermos of coffee, and a book to read while I waited. Shortly after arriving, the kids were let out for recess, and I sat in my truck watching them play. The boys were all running around pretend-karate-kicking (playing Power-Rangers) and yelling "Keyah!!". The cool thing was, none of these kids were actually making contact with each other.
Some weeks later, there was some parental uproar about the "violence". I spoke at the meeting, and told the parents assembled that during the 1/2 hour (on another day) that I watched, only 1 boy actually kicked another boy; and clearly it was an accident... the kicker helped his friend up, appologising as he did so. Within seconds, they were back at it though more carefully. At the meeting, I said that "It hurts when you get hit", and that none of the kids were trying, or even wanted, to hurt their friends... that this 'concern' was a lot of smoke but no flames. After some more discussion, the kids were allowed to continue their play.

jakk280rem
November 12, 2008, 01:20 AM
i agree with evil monkey's post, however i would propose a change of the word "violence" to the word "force". Force or the implied threat of violence has probably influenced more people than outright violence. puff fish puff, rattle snakes rattle, humans march their armies down red square, vote, congregate in protest, exercize their creator given right to bear arms in defence of self, property, community, state and nation.

jhco50
November 12, 2008, 02:23 AM
Ok, I have to chime in on this one. My grandboys love guns. In fact, the 13 year old is begging to go shooting again. ;) The 4 year old will make a gun out of anything (and I do mean anything) and even has his favorite stick gun. He plays army almost every minute of the day with good guys and bad guys. I get a kick out of him when he gets shot as it only lasts a few seconds to get back into action. He used to let me revive him with pretend panels where I had to say clear. However he doesn't do that now as I couldn't keep from tickleing him when I cleared him. Now if I rub my hands together he pulls his arms close to his body and laughs. :D

If we would admit it, boys are different from girls and weopons and fighting (pretend style) are natural to them. People out there (I call them worms) just can't let children be children anymore. They especially dislike us, free men. :(

CRITGIT
November 12, 2008, 02:30 AM
I'm sorry, but child's play involving guns far predates our current crime problem.
Heck, don't be sorry,Doc! And BTW I wasn't referencing today's violence but our history of violence which "came with the dinner"!
"Watch" what happens to and by the vid game generation.

CRITGIT

CRITGIT
November 12, 2008, 02:45 AM
I'm sorry, but child's play involving guns far predates our current crime problem.
Heck, don't be sorry Doc! I wasn't referencing today's crime but our thirst for violence which may have "come with the dinner"
"Watch" what happens to and by the vid game generation. Violence breeds violence from the beaten and threatened child to the constant exposure to
the sights and sounds of violence. The young mind is a sponge which is eagarly trying to learn, comply and conform to their environment.
My gun has never been as violent as my TV.

CRITGIT

jakemccoy
November 12, 2008, 03:40 AM
Below is a fantastic, comprehensive article on this exact subject. It's long but well worth the read. The author Jonathan Turley was my torts professor in law school. He's a really sharp guy. I'll add that my criminal law professor was also publicly pro-gun. I'm talking about GWU in DC of all places!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301749.html

My Boys Like Shootouts. What's Wrong With That?

By Jonathan Turley
Sunday, February 25, 2007; Page B01

As the father of four kids younger than 9, I confess to being an overly obsessive and doting parent. I secretly follow my 8-year-old son, Benjamin, when he goes out on his bike, to make sure that he doesn't ride in the middle of the street. I hover inches over my 18-month-old daughter, Madie, at the playground to make sure that she doesn't eat sand. I am the very model of the risk-averse parent. Yet for some parents in my neighborhood, my kids and I are the risk to be avoided, even if it means removing their children when we show up at the park. The reason: toy guns.

I first noticed the "shunning" at the most unlikely of events. Each year on Labor Day, my Alexandria community has a "Wheel Day" parade in which hundreds of kids convert their bikes, scooters and wagons into different fantasy vehicles. Last year, we turned our red wagon into a replica Conestoga wagon with real sewn canvas over wooden ribs, wooden water barrels, quarter horse -- and, yes, plastic rifles. It was a big hit and the kids won first prize for their age group. The celebration, however, was short lived. As soon as one mother spotted the toy rifles inside the wagon, she pulled her screaming children out of the event, announcing that she would not "expose them" to guns.

I must confess to feeling a mix of deep guilt and even deeper rage at that moment. It was not as though my kids were reenacting the massacre of a Cherokee village; they were simply living out innocent fantasies of the Old West. After some grumbling, my friends and I eventually dismissed the matter as some earth mother gone berserk.

But then it happened again.

My 4-year-old son, Aidan, brought his orange Buzz Lightyear plastic ray gun to "the pit," as our neighborhood playground is known. As he began pursuing an evildoer -- his 6-year-old brother, Jack -- around the playground, a mother froze with an expression of utter revulsion. Glaring alternately from Aidan to me, she waited for a few minutes before grabbing her son and proclaiming loudly that he could not play there "if that boy is going to be allowed to play with guns."

While such "zero-tolerance" parents still seem to be a minority, this is a scene that seems to be repeating itself with increasing regularity. To these parents, my wife and I are "gun-tolerant" and therefore corruptors of children who should be avoided. Not only are such toys viewed as encouraging aggressive behavior and violent attitudes, they are also seen as reinforcing gender stereotypes, with boys playing with guns or swords and girls playing with dolls or cooking sets.

My wife and I are hardly poster parents for the National Rifle Association. We are social liberals who fret over every detail and danger of child rearing. We do not let our kids watch violent TV shows and do not tolerate rough play. Like most of our friends, we tried early on to avoid any gender stereotypes in our selection of games and toys. However, our effort to avoid guns and swords and other similar toys became a Sisyphean battle. Once, in a fit of exasperation, my wife gathered up all of the swords that the boys had acquired as gifts and threw them into the trash. When she returned to the house, she found that the boys had commandeered the celery from the refrigerator to finish their epic battle. Forced to choose between balanced diets and balanced play, my wife returned the swords with strict guidelines about where and when pirate fights, ninja attacks and Jedi rescues could occur.

When I began to research this issue, I found a library of academic studies with such engaging titles as "Longitudinal Stability of Personality Traits: A Multitrait-Multimethod-Multioccasion Analysis." The thrust was that gender differences do exist in the toys and games that boys and girls tend to choose. The anecdotal evidence in my neighborhood (with more than 60 young kids in a four-block radius) was even clearer: Parents of boys reported endless variations on the celery swords. There seems to be something "hard-wired" with the XY chromosome that leads boys to glance at a small moss-covered branch and immediately see an air-cooled, camouflaged, fully automatic 50-caliber Browning rifle with attachable bayonet.

Many parents can relate to Holley and Warren Lutz, who thought that after their daughter Seeley, they could raise her little brother, Carver, in a weapon-free house. Holley realized her error when she gave 10-month-old Carver a Barbie doll and truck one day. The little boy examined both and then proceeded to run Barbie over repeatedly with the truck. By 2, he was bending his sister's Barbies into L-shapes and using them as guns.

One of my neighbors, Tracy Miller, a child psychologist and mother of three girls and a boy, found that her son instinctively gravitated toward improvised weaponry from an early age, while her girls, who are temperamentally more assertive, never showed the slightest interest. Miller resolved that it was better to allow this type of channeling of aggression, while keeping tabs on how it manifested itself in her son's games.

Her view is supported by a recent flurry of studies looking at boys and their development. Michael Thompson, a psychologist and coauthor of "Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys," writes that parents often overreact when confronted with toy guns and other games: "Play is play. Violence is violence." The key is making sure that kids distinguish between the two in their play.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, co-author of the book "Who's Calling the Shots?: How to Respond Effectively to Children's Fascination with War Play and War Toys," sees it differently. These toys are not the product of natural childhood fantasies, she says, but "really manifest the ideas of adults -- of marketing people" who push toys that reflect an adult imagination more than a child's. Yet Carlsson-Paige, who has long studied the effect of violence in the media on the social development of children, says it is true that guns and war games are a way of helping some children process the plethora of violent images on television, in videos, in the news. When I asked her about my neighborhood toy gun issues, she told me: "If parents 'ban' gun play, they run the risk of cutting off a valuable vehicle children need for processing the violence [because] kids use their play to make meaning of what they have experienced in life, and in this case, of the violence they have seen."

For his part, the late child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, author of "The Good Enough Parent," said that there is clearly a gender difference in the toys parents give boys and girls to play with, but he thought that rather than taking guns away from boys, parents should pass them out to girls, who would be served "equally well to be able to discharge their anger through symbolic play, as with toy guns."

While the zero-tolerance debate about guns and other such toys predated the 1990s, it was greatly accelerated after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings as educators rushed to develop formal policies against weapons (fake or real) in schools. This made obvious sense to most parents -- these toys do lend themselves to disruptive games and it can be difficult from a distance to distinguish between real and toy weapons. However, nervous school officials soon began to apply these policies as strict liability offenses where even the most minor violation is treated as a cause for arrest, expulsion or special schooling.

Consider:

In New Jersey, an 8-year-old boy used an L-shaped piece of paper in a game of cops and robbers during recess. School officials called the police, saying the child had threatened "to kill other students" by saying "pow pow" on the playground. He was held for five hours and forced to make two court appearances before charges were dropped. Two 8-year-old boys were charged with making "terrorist threats" after they were found pointing paper guns at classmates. Charges were later dropped.

In Texas, a 13-year-old girl was suspended and transferred to a school for problem kids after she brought a butter knife to school with her lunch. Her parents had packed the dull knife so that she could cut her apple to make it easier to eat because she wore braces.

In Arkansas, an 8-year-old boy was punished for pointing a cooked chicken strip at another student and saying "pow, pow, pow."

In Georgia, a 5-year-old student was suspended after he brought a plastic gun the size of a quarter to his kindergarten class.

Even drawing a picture is too close for comfort under these zero-tolerance policies. In Florida, two 10-year-olds were arrested after drawing stick figures considered to be threatening, and in Nevada, teachers tried unsuccessfully to expel a boy for drawing a cartoon of the death of his teacher.

While many people are complaining about such harsh actions and lawmakers are beginning to call for more moderate policies, some parents want zero-tolerance policies extended to playgrounds, parties and other venues. That has put many of us who have a more expansive view of what is acceptable childhood play in the unenviable position of either conforming to a policy that we believe to be excessive or continually triggering confrontations with zero-tolerance parents.

Of course, it is a bit troubling to be seen as a local gun merchant supplying the weaponry of gratuitous violence to our playgrounds. However, we do not believe that play guns and swords are ruining our children. Frankly, after three boys, my wife and I have resolved the nature/nurture debate in our house in favor of nature.

Yet on the playground there seems to be a palpable fear among zero-tolerance parents that boys harbor some deep and dark violent gene that, if awakened, is likely to end years later with some sort of Hannibal Lecter situation. Of course, there are at least 100 million men in this country who probably played with toy guns or swords as children and did not grow up to become serial killers.

As one of five kids (with two older brothers), I grew up in a liberal, no-guns household in Chicago in the 1960s. My mother considered it her duty to smash any squirt gun we brought into the house. In looking back, though, I'm sure that her gun-free policy made us all the more obsessed with the toys. My kids, on the other hand, show no such fixation. They rarely play gun games (sword fights are more common) and are more inclined to hunt for valuable rocks on the playground or convert our best linens into makeshift yurts in the living room.

Still, when their best friend recently invited them to his Army-themed birthday party, it didn't bother us a bit (though some parents did refuse to let their children attend). In fact, I was struck by how, more than combat fighting, the boys tended to act out scenes involving rescuing comrades or defending the wounded. What I saw was not boys experimenting with carnage and slaughter, but modeling notions of courage and sacrifice. They were trying to experience the emotions at the extremes of human conduct: facing and overcoming fear to remain faithful to their fellow soldiers.

Or, as child psychologist Penny Holland put it in her book, "We Don't Play with Guns Here," their make-believe games were "part of . . . making sense of the world [imitating] timeless themes of the struggle between good and evil." This explanation is probably all the more important in a world filled with violent images of war on television and in the news.

Being a weapons-tolerant parent doesn't mean I'm thrilled by these games. I would prefer that my sons played nation-builder or rocket scientist. However, before they get to such fantasies, they seem to have to work out more basic emotions in more basic ways. So for a few more years at least, the celery will remain in the fridge and the swords on the playground.

jturley@law.gwu.edu

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.

bannockburn
November 12, 2008, 07:55 AM
jakemccoy

Thanks for the extremely insightful article. Pretty much supports my experiences and observations over the years.

#shooter
November 12, 2008, 11:17 AM
Nice posts and a good article. I am truly at a crossroads on the subject. On one hand we do protect kids from violent video games and movies yet on the other they can play violence (guns, swords, etc). I played with toy guns as a child and also did stupid things with a BB gun. I don’t want to forbid something only to increase his desire to abuse it, but I fully intend taking him to the range someday and use real guns responsibly. Logically it seems play killing seems wrong, practically speaking boys love doing this. I guess the best compromise is that they can play with toy guns but there should be rules on how to play with them. When he actually wants a toy gun I will probably get him one, until then I will be happy playing cars and building blocks. Maybe we can skip toy guns and move right into a youth .22lr. I can hear all the parents laughing at me, I'm screwed.

Kingcreek
November 12, 2008, 11:40 AM
I have enjoyed reading some of the preceding psychobabble but not feeling like delving too deep today so I'll limit my comments to this:
I grew up with toy guns, cap guns, homemade slingshots, and we played with them freely. I developed into a healthy, over 50, adult male. I have never been troubled with violent or pschopathic thoughts. but then, I also had limited TV, never had video games, never took ritalin, adderol, prozac, etc. All of my "violent" (creative?) childhood friends and family have likewise become responsible citizens without psychsocial issues.
no science- just casual observation.

Farnorthdan
November 12, 2008, 12:57 PM
I have taught my boys the difference between real guns and play. They both started shooting real guns at 4, single shot .22's. Bottom line, its a responsible parents duty to teach their kids about guns just like drug/alcohol abuse, inappropriate touching etc.

I would much rather have my boys have a deep respect for guns and know that they should never play with real guns without myself around, my main concern is the occasional times when they might be at a friends house and come across another adults gun or be able to recognize inappropriate/dangerous gun behavior by their friends and to call me so I can remove them from the situation.

I am doing nothing more than teaching them what my dad taught me.

As far as playing with toy guns, I'm all for it, I did it when I was a kid. I also believe that its a great opportunity for the parent to use these play times as an ideal opportunity to stress the importance of gun safety and proper handling, I want my boys to be familiar and comfortable with and around guns, this is how we instill in them the love of guns and the understanding that guns need to be a part of our lives forever if personal freedom is to continue.

My boys are 8 and 12 and are allot safer on the range than most the FUDDs I see there.....


DS

otter
May 28, 2009, 12:11 AM
Talked to an older gentleman the other day who said he and the other boys always brought their guns to school since you could usually shoot a squirrel or a rabbit on the way home. It was responsible of boys in his day to provide some food for the family. Later in life he went to a high school that had a shooting range in the basement, they kept .22 rifles in their lockers, no one ever went postal in class.
In WI if you have a loaded gun in the house and a kid, you can get a serious fine. How much self defense can you have with a gun in 1 part of the house and the bullets locked in another part of the house? Just tell the bad guy who is breaking in to wait a few minutes.
There are parts of the world where children are trained with real weapons at an early age, I don't think our politically correct Barbie doll playin boys stand a chance in the next couple generations, my boy will be a leader when that time comes, I am training him with respect and understanding of weapons and he will no doubt shoot rifle expert in the Marine Corps too.

Mt Shooter
May 28, 2009, 12:53 AM
I had one of these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR9ojNddiSI

The sticky caps where green, the plastic bullets where Grey. Wish I still had it, had a holster and Roy Roger shirt to match the white hat.
I also had a replica of what think was a M14 it made machin gun sounds for when Trigger was in the barn and I was playing army. Had a green shirt and a plastic helmet to go with it.

I think I turned out okay, haven't killed anyone, raise two boys, one was a marine.

Oh ya I drank water from the hose!

inSight-NEO
May 28, 2009, 01:02 AM
Tough and controversial subject. It used to be "cowboy and indians" make believe...standard stuff. These days, it may as well be about acting out "gangsta" fantasies. Different times, different strokes...

Toy guns, video games, toy soldiers...whatever. Its about acting out chilidish fantasies and scenarios without (hopefully) any propensity or desire for true, adult like violence. Plus, there is the factor of simple, positive aggression release and oh yeah... having fun! Many will purport that games and plastic guns encourage youth violence, but I say this is essentially crap as this stuff has been around for many, many years.

"Playtime" for children and the means thereof have not really changed much as far as Im concerned. Rather, such things (in todays world) have unfortunately, for many reasons, taken on a whole new, perverted meaning. Its just a stupid shame (thanks in part to shameless, irresponsible media coverage..but I wont go into that).

Outside of living in a bubble, proper parenting, guidance and/or mentoring usually goes a very long way. Even then, some will go astray. But, many wont. Its always been this way to one degree or another and it will never change.

wrs840
May 28, 2009, 01:05 AM
Jeez... Me and the wife and kids have Nerf-Gun wars in the house all the time. We laugh our asses off (and maybe learn something about strategies and tactics). My son likes the belt-fed whoppers. I like slinging two of the six-shot revolvers and pretty much take the Wyatt-Earp "I'm invincible" approach.

This is a suberbly okie-dokie family activity. Try it.

les

Big_E
May 28, 2009, 03:45 AM
I gotta say I am mostly on the side of, boys will be boys but, I will not tolerate my kids (this is going to be a long time away:rolleyes:) making physical contact in play fighting ("soft" hits are okay, but actually going all-out will be saved for martial-arts class.) I had all kinds of toy guns and action figures when I was a kid. My cousin, my neigbors all had toy guns and we would have a blast (pun not inteded at first.)

I did and still do play violent video games and I have turned out very balanced. U have to let kids learn the dangers when they are still doing harmless things. One time I was play fighting with one of my friends and threw him to the ground and saw that he was really hurt, so then I realized that it was a bad thing to do to a friend. Zero-tolerance parents are still few in #'s but its best to ignore them and if they confront you, all I do is tell them to lighten up or get intimidating and show that I believe my kids will turn out to be okay as long as I do my part and tell them to stop harrassing me.

I am for the orange tips on guns, because if I was a police officer and had some kid pointing a gun that I couldn't tell the difference, I would shoot. I would feel terrible afterwards too.

Elvishead
May 28, 2009, 07:00 AM
I was in a Ghetto type area were I thought I might have needed to use deadly force.

If that twelve year old would have killed me, I'd be dead, and he would have been out of prison in ten years.

Things are different now.

It's not the toy gun's, it's the toy parent's that is the problem.

HarleyFixer
May 28, 2009, 07:21 AM
Using BB guns to slay birds and small vermin taught me the finality of death and the power and responsibility of real guns."
That sums it up.


+100

Whatsit
May 28, 2009, 09:49 AM
Groups of dogs engage in play 'violence' frequently in which they take turns 'killing' one another. This play not only hones the skills needed in pack hunts buts serves to teach the individual dogs on how to check their behavior and moderate their play so as not to hurt one another. Play violence plays a large role in establishing social order and 'moral' code in the pack. Dogs who continually hurt others in play are ostracised. Watch a group of puppies play sometime - it's amazing.

Play violence in kids probably serves much the same function. While we don't actively hunt in packs, I'm sure that we learn checks in violent tendencies through play and ultimately discourage actual violence as norms are established through play.

vanguard
May 28, 2009, 10:40 AM
My son is 6 and my neighborhood is filled with boys. Rest assured, kids still play with guns. Heck, I have a 12 year old neighbor that dresses as a confederate soldier and carries a wooden rifle nearly every weekend.

runrabbitrun
May 28, 2009, 12:09 PM
I still play with toy guns and I'm 47.

Good post Whatsit A+

danprkr
May 28, 2009, 12:38 PM
But when my brothers and I were playing "cowboys and indians" or "army", it wasn't so much about violence as it was about emulating adult behavior (mainly from all the TV shows and war movies we watched)

I think part of this though is that what we emulate from the movies makes us better. I personally think that the world would be a MUCH better place if all men tried to be like John Wayne. I know his movies and Louis L'Amour's books were a huge influence on the type of man I've attempted to make myself as I matured. Can't honestly say that I've hit that mark, but I can say that I've always done my best to live up those types of ideals. And, I think that playing those make believe rolls out when I was a child helped set it into my psyche even though I wasn't consciously aware of it until much later.

Deanimator
May 28, 2009, 12:41 PM
The ability to act violently is a MUST for any human being.
Teaching a child that "violence never solves anything" is not just a lie, it's child abuse, every bit as much as telling a child that Draino is good sprinkled on cornflakes.

Deanimator
May 28, 2009, 12:48 PM
In WI if you have a loaded gun in the house and a kid, you can get a serious fine.
I strongly suspect that that's not EXACTLY how it works. More likely, you're liable if a child gets hold of an unsecured firearm and harms himself or another.

Deanimator
May 28, 2009, 12:56 PM
Playing Army is fun to play until you see your grandfather cry on Veterans Day.
I'll bet grandpa would cry longer and harder if he knew his grandchildren were ashamed of him and what he'd done in the service of this country and that it was unworthy of emulation.

danprkr
May 28, 2009, 12:56 PM
that's right that "turn the other cheek" Christian country.

He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'[b]; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."
Luke 22:36
Jesus to his disciples at the last supper

Now that makes me wonder if Jesus was totally against violence. I mean the sword was the personal weapon of it's day...

danprkr
May 28, 2009, 01:08 PM
jakemccoy

Liked the article, but it is sort of sad that we need psychologists and studies to tell us that boys and girls are different. I mean I could have told them that, and would have done so far cheaper probably than whatever they spent on these studies.

Prion
May 28, 2009, 01:23 PM
Thanks Jakemccoy

It is perfectly natural to play violent games in ones youth. It is a way of exploring and coming to understand a sometimes cruel, scary, violent world.

I personally can't imagine my childhood without playing army and war games. So much fun and developmentally important.

Sorry, I'm not raising an emasculated son in order to please some overly sensitive liberal who wants to live in a candy coated make believe world.

We are raising a generation of self entitled pansies. Enough with the overprotection and coddling of our children. We are doing them a disservice.

danprkr
May 28, 2009, 01:33 PM
We are raising a generation of self entitled pansies. Enough with the overprotection and coddling of our children. We are doing them a disservice.

Ditto

heviarti
May 28, 2009, 01:34 PM
anybody remember Roy Rogers? what happened to bad people in every episode? they got punched. lesson: do bad things to other people and you get hit. good lesson. it works the other way too; if you do something bad enough to me, at some point I am justified to slug you.

Deanimator
May 28, 2009, 01:43 PM
We are raising a generation of self entitled pansies. Enough with the overprotection and coddling of our children. We are doing them a disservice.
And just as in the 1930s, those who hate and would destroy us are NOT. THEIR children are being raised to believe that violence solves ALL problems, from women's fashion to how entire countries are run.

Those kinds of people are not reasoned with.
Those kinds of people are not pleaded with.

Those kinds of people can only be submitted to, or killed or shown by example that they will be killed if they persist in that course of action.

It was that way with the Germans in 1939.
It was that way with the Japanese in 1941.
It's been that way with Al Qaeda and its ilk since the 1990s.
Until human nature somehow fundamentally changes (magic?), it'll be that way with every gang of low impulse control bullies that comes along until the end of mankind.

Deanimator
May 28, 2009, 01:45 PM
lesson: do bad things to other people and you get hit.
Consequences are "unfair".

Slinger
May 28, 2009, 01:45 PM
We are raising a generation of self entitled pansies.

So true. So, so, true.

Officers'Wife
May 28, 2009, 01:53 PM
My main problem with the current 'philosophy' is simply that how can I teach my child the difference between pretend and reality when the powers that be treat play guns and knives with equal fervor than real ones?

Violence is a fact of nature, from bears defending their young to deer fighting for mates. Mankind, despite it's higher intelligence and grasp of technology, cannot divorce itself from the animal kingdom.

SWDoc
May 28, 2009, 02:06 PM
Read Col Dave Grossman's books. "On Killing" and "On Combat". Lots of interesting stuff in there addressing these issues.

Steve

mljdeckard
May 28, 2009, 02:07 PM
The only toy guns allowed in my house are guns that cannot be mistaken for real guns. My kids know guns aren't toys. They don't let people point toy guns at them. I don't ever want a cop trying to decide if the fun my kid is carrying is real or not.

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