While keeping in mind the negative influence that toy weapons may have on children, trade associations and administrations of Matta and Khwazakhel Tehsils have banned their sales in local bazaars. The decision in this regard was taken during a joint meeting of local administration, police and army officials recently. It was announced that the shopkeepers found violating the ban would be fined heavily and imprisoned.
Locals have appreciated the move, dubbing it a positive step in grooming their children.
“I support the ban. Our children got some really bad exposure to weapons during the militancy. They would play with toy guns and fire at each other instead of focusing on their education,” said Muhammad Iqbal, a local.
Meanwhile, child development experts also voiced their support for the step. “In the aftermath of ruthless violence, many children developed psychological problems. These toys enhance aggressive tendencies among children and should be permanently banned,” said Murad Ali Khan, a psychologist at Mingora while talking to The Express Tribune. He emphasised on engaging children in healthy activities and games rather than having them fight with toy weapons.
During the militancy, it was a common phenomenon for children to cover their faces like militants. At various places, small groups of children would tie balloons around their bodies, run in streets and hit other children to mimic suicide bombers. “They would also display toy weapons, as if patrolling in the streets,” said a local. “Sometimes they would even make small toy bombs from plastic bottles,” he added.
Sajjad Ahmad, a social activist from Mingora, was of the view that the toy weapons promote radical elements. “Though these are not real, they have negative impact on the minds of young people,” he said.
When contacted, Sub Divisional Magistrate Tehsil Khwazakhela Ghulam confirmed that they had taken a decision to discourage people from buying toy weapons as a means to restrict extemist tendencies in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.
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