Playing with danger

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Earlier this month 3-year-old Atlegang Phalane was shot outside his home because a cop thought he had a real gun in his hand. This terrible incident really shocked and angered me, who shoots a 3-year-old, no matter what he’s holding?.

Toy guns so often resemble real guns that it’s easy for a child (or an adult policeman) to get confused by the real thing. That’s one reason why this year Gun Free SA is appealing to shopkeepers to remove toy guns from their stores. So far Pick n Pay is the only store with the policy to not to sell toy guns that resemble the real thing.

Parent24 blogger, Shell doesn’t want relatives buying toy guns for her son as gifts. ‘When DH and I first talked about being parents and what we wanted for our child and what we did not want one of the first things that cropped up was the toy gun thing.’

Her reasons are personal but also deeply maternal, ‘I have a thing about guns. Never liked them, especially as I'm a child of the Cape Flats who, up until the age of 18, had more than enough exposure to guns and what they do to a human body.’

Guns aren’t the only toys that might arguably cause more harm than good. Recently a shaving toy for little boys was discontinued. I wasn’t completely surprised. I can see the problem: if your 3-year-old came across a real razor in the house, the results would be less than pretty.

When I told my husband about this he thought that it was pretty dumb to discontinue the toy. ‘It’s up to the parents to not leave dangerous things like razors lying around and what about toy ovens and irons? Why don’t they stop making them too? They’re just as dangerous?’

Whichever side of the argument you choose to take I do think it is a parent’s responsibility to keep dangerous objects out of reach of children. But I also think that accidents can be prevented if I child isn’t desensitised to the dangers of razors or guns by making them into playthings.

Do you think parents should be responsible for leaving dangerous objects around? Or should dangerous toys be discontinued?

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