Leader comment: Ban on toy guns prevents kids’ harmless make-believe

“Bang, bang, you’re dead.” “No I’m not, you can’t get me!” Such cries have long rung out in playgrounds across the land as children acted out the shootout at the OK Corral, the endless chase of cops and robbers or some such drama.

“Bang, bang, you’re dead.” “No I’m not, you can’t get me!” Such cries have long rung out in playgrounds across the land as children acted out the shootout at the OK Corral, the endless chase of cops and robbers or some such drama.

Thankfully for the nation, the vast majority grew up to be peaceful, law-abiding citizens rather than Al Capone wannabes.

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However, according to a new poll, four-out-of-five nurseries have now banned toy guns, swords and other weapons, apparently fearing this kind of behaviour encourages violence and creates a “noisy. chaotic atmosphere”.

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Putting aside concerns over a group of children that remains silent and orderly for any significant time, this policy seems to underestimate the capacity of youngsters to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

These games are a playground version of the stories told by adults from Shakespeare to Hollywood, with each child in the starring role as the hero.

Running about while engaging in a bit of make-believe is part of what growing up is all about – even if it’s inconvenient for the adults paid to look after them.