Home > NewsRelease > Respond to Crisis of Violence
Text Graphics
Respond to Crisis of Violence
Stevanne Auerbach -- Dr. Toy's Guide Stevanne Auerbach -- Dr. Toy's Guide
San Francisco, CA
Friday, February 23, 2018

Respond to Crisis of Violence

Dr. Toy Talks About Responses to "Crisis of Violence"©

The issue of violence and the disastrous toll it takes on society, especially children, teens, and college students, is again being scrutinized and actively debated.

Legislation to mark toy guns with an orange band was passed, but the band is hard to see at a distance. Parents, police, and producers of products have been well-informed, yet kids still die playing with both toy and real guns. We question why any parent would buy a gun of any kind for a child or allow the child to leave home with a toy gun, BB gun, or anything that can be mistaken for a dangerous weapon? How is a teen of 18 able to purchase a gun?

In Sonoma, California, a teen carrying a replica rifle was accidently killed by a Sherriff. Disastrous mistakes are made, and everyone feels the pain of grieving families. But, what about the primary responsibility to not permit any child/teen to leave home with a real or realistic looking gun, or weapon?

Parents won a $24 Million lawsuit based on a 13-year-old carrying a pellet gun who was shot by an LA policeman. But, why was the 13-year-old carrying a pellet gun? Who is responsible when a child, teen, or mentally unstable person gains access to a firearm? Does law enforcement have sufficient training to differentiate real rifles, guns, and assault weapons from realistic replicas, in a split second, or at a distance?

Parents allow children and teens to watch many violent video games while their physical bodies, reading scores, and creative capabilities plummet. Kids all too often act out what they are exposed to on TV, in movies, video games, and in real life. Children understandably upset about being bullied may obtain real guns at home then bring them to school with deadly results, such as occurred in Sparks, Nevada. A 12-year-old student armed with a semi-automatic handgun shot and killed Michael Landsberry, a brave teacher, who served as a Marine in Iraq, was protecting kids in his math classroom; the boy seriously injured two other students before turning the gun on himself.

Sadly, kids can more easily find dangerous guns than what they really need: counseling, emotional support, social events, and building friendships.

The terrible stories of gun violence persist across the country. We recall the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 students and six adults. The incident reignited a national debate over gun control, and now look how far we have not come to solve this national disgrace.

The crisis of violence grows from Columbine, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino, and Virginia Tech. Issues have not been resolved. Our country is painfully suffering from Oakland and LA to Baltimore, Newark, and Parkland; plus the USA marks the highest incidence in the world of violent crimes, incarceration, sales of guns and violent video games. It's time to act and curtail the crisis. There must be zero tolerance for bullying of any kind. The responses by victims of abuse, bullying, or neglect have sadly led to needless tragedies including suicide, bodily harm, and death of innocent victims of all ages.

Guns of any form should not be in anyone's hands (child, teen or adult). We question mistakes made by law enforcement personnel, military, hunters, and those with mental or serious anger management problems. But, we don't live in a perfect world, nor have we so far discovered the cure for violence, diverting anger, improving poor self-esteem, nor found the panacea for peace, or thwarting and redirecting anti-social behavior.

We should be spending more resources for research and support programs to find critical answers. Some percentage of the military and law enforcement budgets should be allocated to programs that promote peace.

In 1985, Dr. Thomas Radecki, a psychiatrist, and executive director of the National Coalition on Television Violence, in a study of preschoolers compared the effects of playing with He-Man and Masters of the Universe figures, and playing with Cabbage Patch dolls. He reported the incidence of antisocial and violent behavior doubled after the youngsters played with the violent-theme toys. ''The evidence is quite strong that we are transmitting an unhealthy message encouraging children to have fun pretending to murder each other,'' he said.

Also that same year as Director of the San Francisco International Toy Museum at The Cannery, I said, "It's time to ban all toy guns because children accustomed to playing with them have also played with accessible real weapons, with tragic results."

Then in February 1988, the shocking death of Silivelio "Tony" Grohese, a 13-year-old developmentally disabled child, who was shot and killed by police while he was running with a toy gun on Potrero Hill, prompted a ban on realistic toy guns, and the addition of an orange tip to be placed on the barrel of a replica gun. The Toy Museum held a transformative event in the Courtyard of The Cannery, inviting San Francisco school children to turn in their realistic toy guns in exchange for Hula Hoops, which many children used for the first time much to their delight. It's very sad that after all of these years of messages, studies, positive actions, and potential for improvements, tangible changes have not happened to prevent these on-going terrible tragedies.

Instead of being armed with guns, children should be actively playing with balls, Frisbees©, Hula Hoops©, and jump ropes for good exercise, and helping to discharge stress, negative feelings, and building better social interaction. Sports, jumping rope, or keeping the hoop spinning around the body are great fun, and benefits all kids (and adults) to be more active, less tense, healthier, and more happily engaged. We also need more learning, training, and a lot more loving in our dynamic democracy, yet fragile society.

It's time to find strategic answers to assist and protect our children, including not buying toy guns, securely locking up guns, and finding effective ways to prevent abuse and violence at home, in school, and in every community. Heartfelt sympathy goes to every parent, grandparent, and friend who has ever lost a child, teen, or college student due to a gun as tragically happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Let's strive to find effective ways to "Crisis of Violence" and finally eliminate the pain it causes. Parkland Teens are joined by students from the Bay Area and elsewhere responding to aftermath shock and instead of apathy have taken action, spoken out in unison, and renewed discourse. Isn't it finally time we heard them?

Can we find new, cooperative ways to establish realistic protection, safety restrictions, mental health support—mediation, anti-bullying, discussions, and campaigns; knee jerk reactions like armed guards and armed teachers everywhere are costly, insufficient, inappropriate, and Un-American!  Let's instead unite, heal, and resolve the "Crisis of Violence." We must begin locally, state by state across the country, and around our amazing, yet fragile planet to take positive action, change laws and behavior, and show stronger examples that will "Teach Our Children Well!"


© 2018 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD/Dr. Toy, San Francisco CA 94104





News Media Interview Contact
Direct Phone: steveannAuerbach@G
Jump To Stevanne Auerbach -- Dr. Toy's Guide Jump To Stevanne Auerbach -- Dr. Toy's Guide
Contact Click to Contact
Other experts on these topics