Giving children a toy gun for Christmas sends the wrong message

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 4:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 8:53pm

With Christmas coming, many shops are showcasing attractive gifts for children. I recently passed a toy store and was shocked to see a plastic AK-47 machine gun with plastic hand grenades for sale at HK$99. What kind of Christmas gift is that?

Youngsters like toy guns and playing “cops and robbers”, but as adults we realise that toys can easily affect young minds. What parents give them is assumed to be useful and good, and first impressions are lasting ones.

We should not be surprised that young men are attracted to guns and fighting, as violence is seen to be exciting. Armies use the siren call of “adventure” and “patriotism” to target youths. Worldwide terrorism comes from the abundance of cheap weapons sold directly or indirectly by Russia, China, the UK, France, Singapore, Israel and the US.

Some Western nations have a nominal Christian heritage with its Christmas message of peace. Unfortunately, in many countries, a more compelling message is cash. Selling weapons is profitable. To arms suppliers, violence and war are normal, even desirable, enterprises to be carried out by youths. Thus, for toymakers, the more plastic guns and grenades sold, the better.

In addition to toy weapons, another form of arms advertising is the hallowed place for guns and shooting in the Olympics.

Is shooting really a sport? Even a child can pull a trigger. This Olympic blessing for guns comes from two vestiges of a violent and cruel past – war and hunting – totally out of place at the Games in our times.

Parents should be alert to the subliminal effect of these gory traditions. Violence is perpetuated by early familiarity with weapons. For years to come, US citizens will have to pay a terrible price for their worship of guns.

Thankfully, Hong Kong is spared such traumas but we should guide our children. Wise parents and teachers must protect young minds by not buying toy weapons, and by condemning warriors and their deadly tools.

People who believe in science and evolutionary progress should also reject military blood lust, and instead work for a more peaceful and cooperative world.

China needs progressive thinkers, wise psychologists, dedicated educators and caring parents to help make the future safer for all the world’s children. The annual message and peace of Christmas can be a valuable guide for this goal.

Jason Kuylein, Stanley