Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Gun in Every Toy Chest?

Children are precious. As a society, we employ law in diverse ways to protect children from any of a host of physical and emotional dangers.  It is hardly controversial that there are laws designed to protect kids from the obvious dangers of abuse and neglect. Kids also must be in car seats, wear helmets while riding bikes, and refrain from unhealthy eating at school.  Kids can't operate heavy machinery, make contracts or buy cough syrup.  Why, then, do we tolerate marketing directly to children? Issues have arisen in the past with direct marketing of food, cigarettes and cars among other products.  But the latest controversy involves direct marketing of guns to children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings.

If law reflects our values, what conclusions should be drawn about how we value childhood vs. business profits? This direct marketing seeks to cash in on a demographic that is not experienced enough to make wise decisions. Further, these marketing programs define culture for children by creating phony "suggestions" of what life should include. The question that I find myself asking my students on an increasingly regular basis is, "Is this the best that we can do?"

Image source: NY Times

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