Do children’s toys influence domestic violence and inequality?

April 7, 2016

dog_flickr_hawaii-mcgrathsDomestic violence is a huge issue in Australia, but the link between that and toys is under discussion. Back in November, the Greens initiated a Senate inquiry into the role children’s toys and entertainment play in creating gender stereotypes and contributing towards domestic violence.

Australia’s toy industry and various domestic violence groups made numerous submissions to the inquiry, and these were made public today.

Do the toys Australian children play with — and the marketing material they consume — have a part to play in our huge domestic violence problem? asked a representative from both sides of the argument to put forward their case.

Sue Phillips from Junction Australia, an organisation which provides services and housing to victims of domestic violence says, “If we want to fix our domestic violence problem, we have to work towards gender equality. These gendered toys are a part of that”.

“We have to start that national conversation. People need to get over the ‘It wasn’t like that when I was a kid’ argument and start to face the facts”.

In Australia, we have more than one woman a week and one child per fortnight who is killed through domestic violence.

Women are not valued, respected and treated as equals and that allows the power, control and cycle of abuse to continue. The way toys are marketed contributes to that cycle.

We know that marketing plays a much stronger role in the development of children and our general attitudes these days than it ever has before. It’s not just about whether a kid is playing with Barbie or G.I Joe. The marketing and display of those goods is just as influential as what the product is.

When we separate the two genders in toy stores and catalogues – by saying that blue is a boy colour and pink is a girl colour – we reinforce the idea that boys play with these sorts of toys and girls play with other toys.

Gabby Anderson, executive director of the Australian Toy Association says “Toys are vital for a child’s development. Play is the way children learn. With a wide range of well-selected toys, children are more likely to be challenged and stimulated”.

Studies find that children reach higher levels of intellectual development regardless of sex, race or social class by playing.

But a child’s behaviour is far more influenced by their family environment, school life or mass media, rather than the toys they play with. It’s too great a stretch to think there is any link between domestic violence and toys.

We believe there is an ongoing problem between domestic violence and gender inequality, and it’s definitely worth investigating. But we strongly reject any link between these behaviours and playing with toys. To read more click here.

The 2016 Stop Domestic Violence Conference will be held on 5 – 7 December at the Mercure Hotel in Brisbane. To express your interest in the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE.


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