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Connection between toy guns and real-life violence

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By Farhad Naibkhel-Psychologists say that when children play with toys, they are actually exploring the world, but on a manageable scale. Many of the most popular toys available in the country’s markets are miniature versions of adult tools. When children play with these toys, they are actually making sense of the world by seen what rules operate within the grasp of their hands. In simple words a good toy fosters their exploration while a bad toy ruins their immature minds. Use of toy guns is often linked to real-life violence. Children that watch action movies mostly become violent in the childhood or adulthood. Use of toys has the same effect on children’s mind.

When it comes to Afghanistan, obviously toy guns are popular among the children. They buy toy guns when they get money. Mostly they get money during the Eid holidays. Despite the fact that the nation is tired of violence and gun culture, people does not prevent children from buying plastic guns. This year, scores of children injured due to pellets and firecrackers.

Though, Ministry of Interior (MoI) recently imposed ban on the toy guns and announced to collect toy guns and firecrackers, but people are skeptic about success of the drive.

Residents of Kabul City say that such announcements had been made several times in the past but the ministry utterly failed to stop businessmen from import and sale of the toy guns and firecrackers. During this year over 100 children were injured in the capital city alone. People say that if the ministry was serious, the children would have not been injured. The residents believe that such announcements are made by the MoI to ward off criticism.

Afghanistan is a good market for neighboring countries particularly Pakistan to export toy guns, firecrackers and unhealthy sweets and spoil Afghan children. Substandard drugs are no exception. Low quality and harmful Pakistan-made products have flooded Afghan markets in the last 14 years. Only Pakistan cannot be blamed because Afghan businessmen are responsible for import of these products. These businessmen want to satiate their greed for money in a short possible time.

Recently spokesman of the interior ministry Sediq Sediqi said that MoI has decided to ban “import, sale and use” of plastic toy gun and firecrackers in the country in order to prevent children from harming themselves. In a press conference he said that police was ordered to collect all toy guns from children and shops in the country.

The spokesman said the decision regarding the ban would be shared with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) and traders would be asked to avoid importing toy guns in future. He warned the violators of stern action.

It has been several weeks since the announcement, but one can still find firecrackers and toy guns in the markets. The interior ministry’s warnings had proved water-bubbles. Whether they had initiated a drive to clean the markets from the toy guns or not, it yet to be made clear, but if the ministry did then we can say that the drive has failed or fallen short.

Welcoming the ministry’s decision, Muneer Ahmad, a 27-year old resident of Kabul City, hopes that the drive to collect toy guns and firecrackers would be successful if no flexibility was shown. He said that the campaign would make the country free of toy guns and help in reducing the real-life violence.

“Though, the drive has been kicked off too late, but it will still yield positive results. Use of toy guns and firecrackers make children violent in the real life. These harmful toys have strong effects over children,” the concerned citizen pointed out.

He urged the government to pay heed towards this serious problem and leave no stone unturned in making the country free from guns—whether toy guns or real.

Islamuddin, 35, said that Afghan traders should be blamed and criticized as they import toys for children that are spoiling them. He said that due to high margin, local traders love to import firecrackers and toy guns in huge quantity so they could earn more money.

“They do not care about future of children and the country. They sell the toy guns as commodities. They do not realize that how harmful these toys are. The pellets have injured several children in the month of July. They sacrifice children of others to give a better future to their own children. It is against Islam and human values,” he lamented.

He said that it is very clear that toy guns spoil children and the society as a whole. When asked about the MoI’s drive, he said the police would succeed to some extent but not completely because toy guns producers in the neighboring Pakistan see the porous borders as a permit to sell their products in Afghanistan.

He underlined the need to prevent children from demanding the toy guns, saying that families have also the responsibility. “We cannot blame the government for all of the issues, especially those that have been byproducts of our poor decisions. We shall also play role in building of a positive society as a responsible citizen. Therefore, parents shall be very careful when choosing toys for their children. Their choice will build minds of the children. Hence, parents shall think several times before buying toys for the children,” he suggested.

By studying scholarly articles on effects of toy guns over children, it is crystal-clear that use of toy guns spoil children and make them violent. Therefore, ban on these toys will help in reducing the real-life violence.

Activists have urged the government repeatedly in the past to legislate to ban the trade of toy guns, saying playing with imitation firearms causes violent behavior among children.

The children who grow up playing with imitation toys develop a violent behavior in adulthood and want to use real weapons.

They said most children pushed parents to buy them toy guns, available on the local market in different shapes, for showing off on festive occasions.

Parents too expressed concern about the availability of imitation firearms on the market saying some of them were quite real.