On Thursday, Dec. 9th, in the Lyon Park Recreation Center in Durham, Durham Project Safe Neighborhoods, Calvary Ministries and North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) will be sponsoring a “Peace Toys for War Toys Exchange.” As part of the program, young children are encouraged to come in and exchange their old “war toys” (e.g. toy guns, killer robots, etc.) in exchange for brand-new, donated “peace toys,” such as building blocks, sports equipment, and board games. Individuals wishing to be involved are encouraged to bring in a new, unwrapped toy any time now, to November 30th. Acceptable items include art supplies, basketballs, board games, books, building blocks, dolls, jump ropes, footballs, Legos, soccer balls, stuffed animals.
The toy exchange is a useful reminder of the fact that behavioral patterns that lead people to become violent and abusive later in life, often first develop in childhood and adolescence. Social forces that reinforce violence as acceptable means of resolving conflict correlate with incidences of abuse in adulthood. Additionally, environments that desensitize young people towards the use of weapons and violence (e.g. abusive home lives, exposure to weapons as a child) can lead to outbursts of anger and physical altercations as means of coping with stressors and trauma.
The hope of this and other campaigns aimed at reducing social glorification of violence, is that by changing the way children play, we can change the way young people come to think about violence, conflict, and conflict resolution. Children learn about the world through play and the toys that they use. Toys are critical tool in this regard because they help children in their development. Toys also enable children to learn about the world and how to express themselves socially. By substituting “peace” toys that promote cooperation and non-violent problem solving the hope is that children will learn the value of peaceful conflict resolution.
Details about the drive can be found at the NCGV website here.