Curbing harmful trends: ‘Toy guns promote acceptability of violence’

Commissioner stresses need to pressure traders into stopping sale of toy guns.

Our Correspondent July 21, 2015
A child poses with a toy Kalashnikov. Psychologists fear that playing with such toys promotes an acceptability of violence and children who play with them are more susceptible to be drawn towards terrorism. PHOTO: PPI

KARACHI: Toy guns promote the acceptability of violence and exposure at a young age normalises their use, said an Aga Khan University psychologist Dr Nargis Asad.

On the recent spike in the sale and use of life-like toy guns during Eidul Fitr, Dr Asad told The Express Tribune that as young adolescents, these kids can be more drawn and attracted to [real] weapons.

The city witnessed huge amounts of toy guns, plastic missiles and other weapons on the streets as children went about with their playful stunts. From small and large shops to roadside vendors, a large variety of weapons with shiny metallic butts, silencers and other similar improvisations were seen - much to the horror of many citizens.

Similarly, Karachi University psychology department assistant professor Anila Mukhtar attributes the primary responsibility to parents. "My point-one agenda has always been parents," she said. "Parenting has to be strong enough to cut the demand chain of such toys from the market."

Commenting on the horror to which the Pakistani progeny is being exposed year after year, Mukhtar is of the view that what was once restricted to visual senses is now in their practical reach. "Parents proudly boast that their kid will one day become a cricketer since he loves the sport. Can they imagine saying that he will become a terrorist when he grows up?"

Need to stop sale

Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui believes that traders need to be pressured into stopping the sale of toy guns. "The ban will only be productive once this pressure is fully implemented on the business industry," he said.

According to Siddiqui, efforts are being made for the last two years to curb the promotion of toy guns as they have detrimental effects on children. "Some consignments were confiscated in the past," he said. "This time, however, the city administration was not proactive about it. These cases are normally observed by the police and [are handled] as a team effort with the city's administration." He added that efforts will be made with the support of the business community so that such toys do not enter the market.

On the other hand, Karachi Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Aamir Hassan said that the chamber has no designated association that deals in the trade of toy guns. "There are a few individual business men found in Bohri Bazaar, involved [in the business] on their own," he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2015. 

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