The Cayman Islands has held firearms amnesty programmes in the past, but never quite like the one being conducted at John Cumber Primary School in West Bay.
Parents and students at John Cumber are being asked to turn in toy guns, toy knives, and violent video games by Thursday afternoon at 2pm – when a scheduled “crushing” will be held to destroy the items.
School Principal Joseph Wallace said National Roads Authority equipment will be used to dispose of the toys and games.
“The parents can drop off (the items) at the office when they drop the kids off or when they pick them up from school,” Mr. Wallace said. “The children can also drop them off during the school day.”
An e-mail went out to parents last week urging them to turn the toy weapons and violent games into the school, but so far Principal Wallace said he hasn’t gotten much of a response.
“We’ve only had two toy guns turned in, out of 500 children at John Cumber,” he said. “The response so far has been very poor.”
Mr. Wallace said the “crushing” is being sponsored by a number of community groups and agencies including CODAC, education services, fire service officials and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. It’s being held by the groups as a symbolic act of non-violence.
“We’re particularly interested in those video games that are indoctrinating children into a culture of violence,” he said. “Grand theft auto – that’s based on the exploits of a criminal whose goal is to kill as many policemen as he can.”
Principal Wallace said it might seem like a minor concern, but he believes that’s the mistake parents are making.
“We need to make parents aware that (the games) are causing children to think along violent lines,” he said. “Children don’t talk to each other anymore, they fight.”
“You see the escalation in violence around the community…there’s been a number of shootings and violent acts.”
Mr. Wallace said he wanted to make clear that there’s nothing wrong with playing video games, but constant exposure to such games can “desensitize children to acts of violence.”
Police also warn that toy guns can be mistaken for real weapons, particularly at night and in low-light situations.