Policy Spotlight: War Toys

How does a nonviolent community deal the ubiquity of war toys in the lives of children? Here’s one of a few policies addressing war toys. Super Soakers are specifically banned. This is also a great example of the informal (sometimes annoyingly so) style of Twin Oaks policy.

War Toys Policy (1992)
Revised Child Board Policy on TOYS THAT SHOOT PROJECTILES, CAP GUNS, KNIVES, and SQUIRT GUNS November 18, 1992

Bows and arrows, slingshots of any sort (rubberbands and paper clips, pencils, etc.)  ANYTHING that shoots actual things.
Must be used ONLY • with close adult supervision • for target shooting (not at animal or person) • where the people around are either involved or ok with it • outdoors

CAP GUNS 9/9/93
Based on the input on the proposed cap-gun policy, the CB has decided to ban them for the following reasons: 1. Noise – even taking them into the woods would disturb wildlife and people looking for quiet space. 2. We recognize that there are a number of people in the community that prefer there be NO war toys or guns at all.  In response to their interests, we are banning these uniquely intrusive toy guns.

Jack knives, hunting knives, kitchen knives, Swiss army knives, etc.
For children 10 yrs and under (unless ok’d by child board and parents): • May be used ONLY with close adult supervision • Must be kept in the possession of the adult or primary and to be inaccessible to the child when child and adult are not using the knife.  This means the sponsor is present and watching while the child is using the knife. • For children of any age using knives or projectiles, these items must not be used to threaten any living things or property, even in playful gesturing.  If there is misuse of this kind, the consequence below will be given.

First, let’s work at prevention of misuse.  We’d like the cooperation of parents and primaries to tell the children directly what is expected behavior regarding knives and toys that shoot projectiles, and to explain the safety concern as well as the consideration for other people’s sense of safety.

E. First event of misuse:  If any of the stated requirements are not met, the toy or knife will be made inaccessible to the child(ren) for one week.
F. If it happens a second time, the item is taken away for a monthe.
G. If the child persists a third time in breaking the rules, or uses these toys in dangerous or threatening ways, the item will be taken away until the child can show by cos actions and the references of cos parents, primaries, peers, and other involved parties, that co will be responsible.

Who will carry out the consequences?
We expect that parents will apply any consequences, according to this policy, in cooperation with the community.  If a parent does not choose to follow through on this, the child board will make the issue public to enlist community support in backing up the policy. (or why have a policy?)

May be used if: • not in or around ZK at all (except playgrounds and woods). • Not in Courtyard near paths and buildings • Not shaped like an automatic weapon • Plastic and see-through so you can tell it’s a water toy.  • Everyone getting squirted is willing (no snipe-squirting: hiding behind trees and squirting people).  • Everyone understands that when someone doesn’t want to get wet, this is respected (unless co is squirting others).  “No” means no.

Super-Soakers are shaped like an automatic weapon.  They have a very strong spray that can hurt or damage people if fired at close range.  They are outlawed in many schools.  Supersoakers are not acceptable on Twin Oaks property.  If seen, they will be confiscated.

First, parents and primaries can remind children of the above rules.  If any of these are broken, there will be a warning and reminder from the child board, if not from the primary and/or parent.  If any of the rules are broken again, the squirt gun is removed until the child acknowledges the rules and agrees satisfactorily to abide by them. Child board may implement longer term confiscation if repeated misuse occurs and if parent does not choose to follow through on these consequences.