Parents Should Know These Facts before Buying a Nerf Gun for Kids
“It’s NERF or Nothing!”
This classic NERF catchphrase ended up being an ideology the kids from the 90’s blindly followed. As a kid, there was no feeling stronger than the weight of a NERF gun in your hands with the business end pointed at your best friend. With a long, very colorful history starting in the late ’60s, these guys have been supplying kids with guns loaded with foam-rubber ammunition, and they’re still going strong. Nerf has given every 12-year-old kid who yearns to play with guns not just the ultimate toy weapon but an entire neon arsenal. But some parents are cautious before buying their kids, especially boys, these toys. Although it’s debatable if playing with toy guns make kids predisposed to violence, parents should know these facts beforehand.
NERF Guns are safe.
It is made up of a polyester resin that reacts with another compound in the presence of CO2, which then becomes a freakishly light polyurethane material. This means that a NERF dart won’t puncture the skin or kill someone if you shoot them in the face. They come in every shape and size imaginable! The reason they are so popular is that they are harmless.
They are expensive
Their most expensive products go for over $500. Annual revenues under the Nerf brand is approximate US$400 million. So it is up to the parents if they want to shell out huge amounts to satiate their kids’ hunger for violent games.
Although safe, Nerf Guns can be tricky
The weapons, which fire spongy ammo designed not to hurt children, are clearly risky — as CU-Boulder police Chief Joe E. Roy emphasizes in an op-ed penned for the Colorado Daily. Cops treat any emergency call about a gun as if the weapon was genuine, even if the “Nerf” descriptor preceded it. In 2007, Alfred University in upstate New York underwent a two-hour lockdown after a faculty member reported a student with a weapon that turned out later to be the best Nerf gun. A similar report prompted a police response at the University of Maryland last year. Complicating all of this are two dangerous trends: one in which Nerf guns are painted black to look like assault weapons and another in which real guns are painted to look like colored toys.
Guns violence in schools on a rise
Although there is no direct relation between Nerf guns and boys doing violence with actual guns, the fact cannot be overlooked that kids as young as 10-year-olds are accused of shootings in classrooms. Since 2013, there have been at least 190 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week! When it comes to American children being exposed to gunfire, these shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. A report by the Urban Institute showed that in the single school district of Washington, DC, there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over a single school year. And school shootings have long-term impacts on the school community as a whole: a recent analysis of school shootings found that those involving a homicide reduced student enrollment in the affected schools, and depressed students’ standardized test scores by nearly 5 percent.
In the end, take a note with a professional. Dr. Michael Thompson, a clinical psychologist and author of nine books, including “Raising Cain, Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys,” takes a straightforward approach to the issue of play versus violence. “People always ask me about the problem of ‘violent play’ and I say, ‘There is no such thing.’ Violence is violence; it is meant to hurt people. The play is play. It is fun and consensual. If you see children trying to hurt each other, you should stop it. If you see children having fun, you shouldn’t interfere, even if you don’t like the themes of the play.” As parents, one most need to teach their kids about gun safety and, most importantly, respecting human life. But one also need to let them play. Boys will be boys.