WATERLOO, ONTARIO: CPT inspects toy retailers

December 11, 2001
WATERLOO, ONTARIO: CPT inspects toy retailers

On Saturday, December 1, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and
local church members conducted inspections of toy retailers throughout
Kitchener-Waterloo as part of CPT's ongoing North America-wide campaign,
"Violence is Not Child's Play: 500 Churches for Change." This was the second
consecutive year for CPT toy inspections in the community.

Participants called public attention to the harmful effects of marketing
violent toys and games to children and encouraged store managers to reduce
and eventually eliminate their inventories of violent toys.

Inspection teams visited nine different stores, rating the content of each
on a scale of 100 points. Stores selling predominantly toys and games that
teach children to be cooperative and creative received more peace points.
Stores that carried many violent toys and games had points deducted.

Participants then announced their findings in a press conference, complete
with samples of violent toys such as an action figure with an exploding
head, a "wild west" shotgun, and a video game featuring animated blood and
gore. Toys R Us and Walmart tied for worst place with 53 points and 50
points respectively. Both stores received a "Notice of Toxicity" and were
encouraged to reduce their violent toy inventories. A "Certificate of
Encouragement" was awarded to Toy Sense Plus, Toy Junction, and Scholar's
Choice, all finishing with 99 points. The managers were commended for
featuring a variety of toys and games that stimulate creativity and

In addition to local newspaper and television interviews, several radio
stations covered the event, including a province-wide CBC interview.

Referring to the United Nations declaration calling for a Decade of Peace
and Nonviolence for the Children of the World in 2001-2010, a press
statement released by the group said, "We share a serious concern for the
extent to which our society accepts and even encourages violent behavior. In
different ways, all of us share a vision for a world in which nonviolent
toys and games can nurture children to become creative, peaceful, and
problem-solving people."

The press statement also referred to the ambivalence of some toy retailers
and manufacturers who have found themselves in a new space after September
11, not sure whether or not to release new products that simulate terrorist
scenarios. While stores report increases in sales of both rescue figures and
GI Joe toys, participants in the toy inspection made the point that "there
is a fascination with both inflicting pain through violence and rescuing
people from suffering. Now more than ever, we believe it is time to speak
out to end the cycle of violence."

About two dozen people were involved in the December 1 inspections. Members
of CPT included Matthew Bailey-Dick, Nina Bailey-Dick, Chris Buhler, Joel
Klassen, and Scott Morton Ninomiya.