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Gun Play Policy


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Dear All,

 

I've always been a bit lenient about fighting sorts of games and there,s never been much more than foam sword fighting. But a new level has reared its ugly head. Subtle questioning has revealed that two boys (5 and 7 years old) have seen war video games and I don't think they are alone at school (nice Christian school that it is). This week one of the boys held a gun made from Duplo to his own head while chanting 'Bang, Bang Chicken's dead, Fifty bullets in his head.' I found this very challenging, especially as there were many smaller children in the setting. When I put a stop to the game I got 'Aww that's not fair. We want to play it here 'cos we're not allowed to play it at school'.

 

On investigation, school has a zero tolerence policy to gun play. My natural instinct is to follow suit, but certain schools of thought suggest that play fighting helps boys learn how to control aggression.

 

I think I want to inform parents that I will allow play fighting as long as I don't think it will upset other children, but that guns will not be allowed to be brought into the setting, and that I will stop lifelike depictions of shootings, and gang-like behaviour.

 

Should I put a stop to duplo, sticks, bananas being made into guns or should I be praising creativity? Should I maintain consitency with the school and just say 'We don't have guns, and we don't do gun play'?

 

Your views appreciated.

 

Fe

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If the children are playing guns it's because they feel the need to explore the concepts of guns, killing, shooting, etc. If you try to stop them you are just making them move the play to another venue. I'd rather allow them to make guns if they feel so inclined and then use that interest to develop their learning. Perhaps investigate what guns are made of, who uses them, why they use them, etc. Look at soldiers and develop it into an interest in the army.

 

I don't like ready made plastic guns but I wouldn't want to stop any child's play if they've made a prop specifically for it. Our job should be about investigation and exploration not control. CHildren learn best by following their interests after all.

 

I know others will feel strongly that children should be protected from the realities of guns but life is real and so are guns. In my local community many parents have guns and gunfire is often heard. I'd prefer children to understand them and respect them.

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Brilliant!

 

To this I would add, 'Have you any families with serving members of the armed forces'? If so, how would those children feel if their otherwise acceptable role play (my dad/brother/whatever - the hero) was banned????

 

Just a thought - I have encountered it many times, which is why I allow gun play, within discussed and negotiated (with the children) parameters.

 

Sue

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When thinking about your inclusion policy/behaviour policy does your setting ask the following?

 

 

What are your values in relation to rough and tumble play (superhero or weapon play)?

 

Do you regard these kinds of play as pro-social and not as problematic or aggressive?

 

How can you develop strategies to contain play that are agreed with the children and understood by them with acceptable boundaries to ensure children are not hurt?

 

How can you help children to explore their interests in goodies and baddies? (Practitioners can explore concepts of right and wrong with children. Can become a ‘teachable moment’ to encourage empathy and lateral thinking to explore alternative scenarios and strategies for conflict resolution).

 

This one has been contested, discussed, fought over for years - personally through research and watching children I have been able to support this type of play and explore the concepts such as what guns can actually do. Children will role play what they hear and see, to discard it because adults feel afraid to explore the play or allow it becaus it is not a PC thing to do is to do children an injustice. With adult support, direction, discussion and explanation children are able to explore their thought process in a safe environment.

 

Its a hard subject matter - but practitioners still seem to be taking this form of play out of the setting as they are worried about the effect it will have on the children and parents. But again think about how families who are in the armed forces may feel if their work for this country is constantly undermined.

 

No one likes war, guns or fighting but sadly it is a fact of mankind and children deserve informed explanations.

 

oooh sorry lecture over - studied this topic quite indepth!!

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so if you were in Dunblane would you feel the same?

That's a highly emotive question, and in answer to that I would say that my policy would be governed by all sorts of issues: not least the views of the families I support and any special circumstances caused by local or world events. In the wake of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack we saw lots of children playing out what they had seen on tv in their small world play, and this gave us opportunities to support children to try to come to terms with, and make sense of what had happened.

 

Children understand that bad people do bad things, and being able to play goodies and baddies with improvised guns in a safe environment is a good way for children to explore age old themes that have pre-occupied children's play for generations. So long as we are available and equipped to support children's thinking as they grapple with these conflicting ideas and emotions (and protect children who do not want to be involved in such play) and we communicate our reasons for our approach to this kind of play then I believe we should be confident in our approaches.

 

Individual practitioners should be able to communicate their own fears and worries to a staff discussion about how this kind of play will be supported within the setting, and the approach should be agreed within the team. However just as some practitioners don't like mess and so avoid the creative or sensory activities, so those with objections to this kind of play can be deployed elsewhere in the setting.

 

I certainly think that stopping this kind of play can be a bit like herding sheep - just as you think you've got it under control in one area of the setting you'll spot a child nibbling a cracker at snacktime and pretending to shoot his friend with it, or another making a gun out of stickle bricks. I'd rather devote my time to supporting and enhancing children's play than in trying to prevent what is for some children as natural as breathing. Not that I always get it right, I hasten to add. It can be exhausting work!

 

Maz

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Many thanks for all your considered opinions. Been away for a few days and only just picked up - how the gun issue has been refreshed in that short time!?

 

Think I'll evaluate incidences as they occur and use the opportunity to try to teach about safety and empathy. Thanks for the encouragement in that direction.

 

I grew up in the country, and there was always a gun in the house somewhere, but we were taught very strict gun safety. I never saw that gun fired, but it was brought out once or twice when there were 'incidents'. I hadn't actually considered the Armed Forces in my gun-play challenge. It was the Gang-type behaviour that most challenged me.- May be I should support that too though, in case some one's Dad is a Gangster?

 

Just as an aside - a friend suggested that allowing children access to explicit video games and vdeos miay be considered to be neglectful? Your opinions?

 

Fe

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Been away for a few days and only just picked up - how the gun issue has been refreshed in that short time!?

Yes, and I have to say that when I heard of the first shootings my mind came back to this thread. When finlaysmaid posted her question none of us could know that Derrick Bird had already killed the first of his many victims.

 

I wonder if or how children will turn to these themes in the coming days and weeks? Or how practitioners will respond if they do?

 

As for video games, I do worry about very young children seeing and playing the "shoot 'em ups" because I wonder about the possible de-sensitising of children towards violence, and the lack of understanding of the results of gun crime caused by watching dead characters come back to life again when the game is replayed. However I believe this view might be somewhat simplistic, and I have to say I don't know what the research says.

 

As for whether it can be constituted as abuse, I'm not sure about that. However if research demonstrates that violence can be equated to pornography in terms of damaging effects on children, then just as allowing your child to watch pornography is abuse, then so would allowing them to play violent video games.

 

If I had time I'd go and look at the Byron report because I think she looked at these issues. Has anyone else got an insight into the research?

 

Maz

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i have been considering my post over the last few days and felt that the situation is still too raw for me to make any further comments at the present time. I do hope that i did not offend anyone - as happy Maz says none of us could have known what was happening in Cumbria :oxD:( healing thoughts to anyone caught up in this tragedy.

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I do hope that i did not offend anyone

Certainly not me - as has been said before this issue raises all sorts of emotions and opinions. You didn't know what had happened when you posted, and in any case you raised an entirely valid point which added to the discussion.

 

Maz

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