Editor’s Note: This story is one of many submitted by Union City eighth graders as part of a gifted and talented program assignment. The stories are presented with very little editing.
“Pow, pow!” You turn around to see your young child pointing their toy gun and shooting at their younger sibling. In my R.O.G.A.T.E (Resources Offered for Gifted and Talented Education) project I was able to determine whether my hypothesis, “Do toy weapons marketed for children ages seven to 10 cause aggressive behavior?,” is valid, invalid, or inconclusive.
Throughout the ROGATE experience, seventh and eighth graders involved in ROGATE are given the opportunity to take the SAT and complete an extensive independent research project. As seventh graders, you are a Toward Satori Candidate and can either place for Bronze or Silver Toward Satori. If you place in Toward Satori, you are eligible for a Gold Satori Award in the eighth grade. Projects are presented at Montclair State University in the month of May.
More than 70 percent of the parents that I surveyed do not allow their children to play with toy weapons.
Apart from my two primary resources, I also collected three secondary resources to support my hypothesis. The first one was “Playing with Guns” by Pediatrics for Parents and it stated that studies have found an association between playing with toy guns and aggressive behavior lead to some health advocates believing that doctors should counsel families on limiting their children’s exposure to these toy weapons. The second one was “Should I Let Him” by Kari Fisher, which postulated that toy guns can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing and that they are far too young to comprehend the difference between real guns and pretend guns. Finally, my third secondary resource was “Should Children Be Given Toy Guns” by Philippa Rowland, where she detailed that toy guns make children desensitized to the reality of guns and give children an unreal sense of power of violence. Banning toy weapons would be beneficial to a child’s level of violence contributed by toy guns.
In final analysis, with all the research that I had gathered I was able to come to the conclusion that my hypothesis is valid. Too much exposure to toy weapons affect the way how children see violence. Ultimately, it is up to parents on whether or not their children should use or own toy weapons.