- 25 July 2013
- by Alison Matusofsky
The Toy Gun Buy Back Initiative is an organization which aims to educate parents about the harms of violence themed toys to change the way children play. Leah Gunning Francis was dismayed with how the media portrays violence, whether it is through television shows or video games. She believes that these nonchalant displays of violence desensitize children to gun violence and makes them think it is okay because they try to mimic the behavior they see on television. Leah strives to make parents think about the influence toy guns have on their children’s view of violence in general. She says that there are many responses when she talks about her Toy Gun Buy Back because many parents do not think it is a big deal. Leah wants to teach parents about the harms of not discussing violence and is pleased that over 50 churches and non-profit organizations have joined her initiative.
Leah believes community outreach is important because it your duty as a member of your community. She does not think that she is “giving back” but instead, she is doing what is expected of her as a responsible community member. In St. Louis, specifically, there is a large amount of gun violence. Leah hopes that through this buy back, children will not be perpetuating this history of gun violence through their play. Instead, Leah hopes that children can experience all of the amazing, non-violent activities which St. Louis has to offer like the zoo, science center, etc. She wants children to know that violence is not the answer. Allowing kids to play with violent toys “sends a mixed message,” Leah explains.
During Toy Gun Buy Back events children can bring in their violent toys and exchange them for non-violent toys. There is no cash given for violent toys, it is only a toy exchange.
If you want to contribute to the cause through monetary donations or volunteering take a look at their website or call (314) 225-6990.