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Excerpts from

TOYS FOR PEACE:
A How-To Guide For
Organizing Violent Toy Trade-Ins

by
The Lion & Lamb Project


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  • Introduction

WHY A VIOLENT TOY TRADE-IN?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

-- Margaret Mead

Today's children are constantly invited to play with violence. In fact, many children's toy chests have been transformed into war chests full of action figures, toy guns and swords, war toys, laser guns, and other implements of destruction. At every turn, children are faced with violent arcade games, video games, computer games and virtual-reality games. They see violence on television, in the movies, on video.

Children are not born violent -- research shows that violence is a learned behavior. And it is a behavior that we are teaching to younger and younger children.

Growing numbers of parents and teachers find that when children have violent toys -- such as swords, toy guns, and action figures -- they play violently. Violent toys do not teach the kinds of values most parents and teachers encourage -- values such as cooperation, taking turns or problem-solving.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a military historian and author of On Killing, argues that "the inflicting of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment and vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion. We are learning to kill, and we are learning to like it."

In fact, 25,000 Americans are murdered each year -- more people than were killed at the height of the Vietnam War. This increased violence is also seen in schools, playgrounds and even church yards. Children under the age of eight have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality: they receive very mixed messages from a society that glorifies violence through toys, movies and other entertainment -and at the same time tells them that violence is "bad."

Violent Toy Trade-Ins are events which bring attention to this issue -- and demonstrate a community's desire for change. Basically, toy trade-ins invite children to donate one of their violent toys as an expression of their desire for a less violent world.

At the trade-in, children work together to help transform a collection of violent toys into a dramatic Peace Sculpture. In addition, they can participate in a number of creative and nonviolent games and activities -- reminders of how much fun they can have without resorting to violence as a theme.

In exchange for contributing a violent toy, all children receive a Lionhearted Certificate entitling them to discounts or free gifts from local merchants specializing in nonviolent children's toys and entertainment -- and some children receive exciting door prizes.

The most important thing about these events is to have fun! In today's popular culture, "violence'' is assumed to be "fun" -- and "not violent" is thus assumed to be "not fun." For this reason, it's important to offer activities that both boys and girls will enjoy -- activities not based on violence.

Putting together a toy trade-in does take time -- but the rewards far outweigh the costs. The looks on children's faces, their excitement as they become engrossed in new games and activities, are things you will not soon forget.

The old saying is true -- the more energy you put into the event, the more energy will be created. Successful events don't happen by themselves: they do require work. But if many people each contribute a little bit of time, no one person need feel overwhelmed by the tasks involved.

WHY ME?

If you are reading this, you can do something to help put on a Violent Toy Trade-In. If you can't do it yourself, give it to someone in a better position to organize an event -- a school principal, a PTA president, the social action committee of your house of worship, your day care center, a school counselor.

Remember --- the longest journey begins with a single step. And you can take that first small step that will result in a wonderful, heart-warming and transformational event for children.

SECTIONS IN THE FULL MANUAL

  • Answers to Some Common Questions About Violent Toy Trade-ins
    -- What age children should we invite?
    -- Is this event just for boys?
    -- Should we invite parents to stay at the event?
    -- What if a child doesn't have a violent toy to contribute?

  • What Happens at a Toy Trade-In?
    -- Ideas for Transforming Violent Toys into Peace Sculptures
    -- Suggestions for Peaceful Play

  • Other Activities

  • How to Organize a Violent Toy Trade-In
    -- Select a Coordinator
    -- Choose a Date
    -- Find Partner Organizations

  • Collecting Toys Ahead of Time
    -- Why
    -- Where
    -- How
    -- Get Teens to Help

  • Making the Trade : What do Children Receive in Return?
    -- Coupons
    -- Door Prizes

  • Getting Publicity for Your Event
    -- Attracting Media Coverage

WHY JOIN LION & LAMB?

We hope you will decide to work with The Lion & Lamb Project as you develop your Toy Trade-In. We can provide you with technical support and assistance in organizing a successful event.

Order the Toys For Peace Guide

If you are planning a Toy Trade-In, please let us know by phone, fax, mail, or email.

 

Link to Home page
Link to Media Violence
Link to Research
Link to Toy Lists
Link to Resources
Link to Parent Action Kit
Link to What You Can Do
Link to Toy Trade-Ins
Link to A Mother's Story
Link to About Us
Link to Newsroom

 


 

The Lion & Lamb Project