We’re marketing violence to children, even though violence isn’t child’s play, according to lionlamb.org, the Web site of the Lion & Lamb Project.
“The Lion & Lamb Project is concerned with violent messages stemming from: television, movies, videos, music lyrics, arcade games, home computer and video games, on-line services, action figures, war toys and more,” according to the site.
Daphne White, executive director of the Project, started the organization in 1995 after watching her son play with his friend’s violent video game. Their shrieks of “Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!” while playing the game put her on the path for social change.
The Project aims to help people understand the marketing of violence and to take action against it. The Project spotlights toys, which debates on media effects often ignore.
Violent toys, according to the site, have several features. They promote violence and aggression as effective and fun, invite children to stage hostile behaviors, and foster the destruction of “enemies.”
Nonviolent toys, by contrast, encourage creation instead of destruction, promote cooperation instead of competition, and teach new skills.
“Violent toys send violent messages,” according to the site. “With the aggressive marketing of violent toys on television and in the stores, it is hard for parents to find toys that don’t glorify violence—toys that, instead, help children use their imagination and creativity.”
The Project has produced a Parent Action Kit that includes resources on media violence, violent toys, and ways to resolve family conflicts peacefully.
The Project has also pioneered events like Violent Toy Trade-Ins and Peaceable Play Days.
“A Violent Toy Trade-In is an event where children are asked to contribute one of their violent toys in order to demonstrate their desire for a less violent world,” according to the site. “The children’s toys are then transformed into a Peace Sculpture or Peace Pole, which can be displayed on the grounds of a school, house of worship or community park, to demonstrate graphically how children’s toy chests have been transformed into war chests.”
During Peaceable Play Days, “families are re-introduced to fun, free activities that do not involve either violence or television. These activities require the adults in the community to share their hobbies and favorite childhood pastimes with today’s youngsters, to show that it is possible to have lots of fun without playing games based on violence.”
The Project offers seminars on how children learn violence, how to replace television with more family time, and how to resolve family conflict peacefully.
Lionlamb.org originally went online in 1996, with the current redesign dating to 1998. The site not only gives information about the Project, but it serves as a fine resource on its own.
The Project’s “fact sheet” responds to questions site visitors may have, like what makes the Project unique, why it focuses on media (as opposed to actual) violence, and whether or not aggressive behavior in children is normal.
The Web site also contains a list of credible media effects resources on the Web, including research studies and policy statements, and links to where the Project has appeared in the news, such as CNN.com, the Washington Post and Associated Press.
The Lion & Lamb Project is an initiative of TidesCenter (www.tidescenter.org), a nonprofit organization that provides fiscal and infrastructure support to social change programs.
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.
Visit the Lion & Lamb Project at http://www.lionlamb.org
VisitTidesCenter at http://www.tidescenter.org