Alicia Cabezudo


“What is the Meaning of Violent Toys?” 2002

Alicia Cabezudo

PROBLEM: Since 1999 the Municipality of Rosario, Argentina has been developing the program Give Peace a Chance in the framework of the Hague Appeal for Peace Global Campaign for Peace Education. This project, an initiative of the Educating Cities Latin American office coordinated by the youth department, was designed to observe the games and toys used by children and young people in two Latin American cities, Rosario, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay, to reflect on the violence in them, and to determine if games and toys promote ideas, behaviors or attitudes towards structural or direct violence or on the contrary, promote peace.

Games and toys play a fundamental role in child development. Some toys pose emotional and social risks. Graphic depictions of violence presented in an interactive way, such as computer or video games can lead to acts of violence by the child. Toys (especially dolls, puppets and video games) also reproduce social roles and determine what is expected of certain groups in society. These roles implied in toys, plus the impact of the media and the roles portrayed in TV shows and movies make certain attitudes appear as desirable or good, when sometimes they are not. Violence and death appear many times as something common and natural. Research supports that exposure to violence in media and toys can have a negative impact on children’s learning and development and can lead to harmful consequences.

RESEARCH METHODS: Observations were conducted in Rosario, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. 920 surveys were completed that looked at the connection between violence and toys. 429 of the surveys were completed by children up to 14 and 491 by adults. The study placed toys into three categories: Explicitly Violent –War Toys, Implicitly Violent Toys-Ambiguous or not yet determined, and Peaceful.

RESULTS: Children up to 5 years old play less with those toys considered as violent and more with and much more with peaceful toys. They are not familiarized with video games, violent movies and violent toys. Children 6 to 9 start becoming familiar with violent toys through TV programs and marketing, but the still prefer soccer, construction games, cars, trucks and all kinds of vehicles. Only 13 of 403 games mentioned were explicitly violent. In the age group 10 to 14 only a very small number of explicitly violent games were mentioned. 4 out of 835. We can conclude that fewer children than expected play with explicitly violent toys as know traditionally, always very few at all ages.

The Foundation acknowledges that Alicia Cabezudo has successfully completed her project.