Peace Week will provide children opportunity to turn in violent toys Other events will be held throughout Columbia

February 13, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF

Believing that children with toy guns are more likely to grow into adults with real ones, the organizers of Howard County's annual Focus on Peace Week have made one of their first events an opportunity for children to get rid of their violent toys.

Children are encouraged to bring their parents, along with their toy guns, to the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center from 1: 30 to 4: 30 p.m. Sunday for "Violent Toy Turn In and New Ways to Play Day."

Besides ridding themselves of their play weapons -- in return for gifts and ice cream from local merchants -- the children will be able to join in activities designed to demonstrate how to play together in a cooperative, peaceful way.

"We really want to encourage the parents who participate in Peace Week to stay with their kids and learn from the workshops," said Merle Forney, chairman of the Violent Toy Turn-In event. "This is not free day care."

Forney also emphasized that it's not just guns and knives that the kids bring.

"One year, someone turned in a TV set," he said.

Focus on Peace Week, sponsored by the Howard County Clergy for Social Justice, begins at 8: 15 p.m. tomorrow when the Columbia Jewish Congregation will be the host for "Meditation of Peace" at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.

Next week will be filled with talks, workshops, seminars and the like at locations throughout Columbia. The events are designed to teach adults and children new tools and techniques in conflict resolution.

"For most people in Howard County, there's a disconnect between the tree-lined streets and the amount of violence that's out there," said Suzanne Waller, one of the creators of Peace Week in 1995. "It's become an issue in Columbia -- and the county -- about what we're going to do about crime."

Waller said that, according to 1996 statistics provided by the county police, robbery, assault, theft and vandalism have increased since 1995, and violent crimes committed by juveniles have taken a startling jump.

"It's time to get our heads out of the sand about this issue," she said.

Jim Henson Sr., administrator of the county Office of Human Rights, said the objective of Peace Week is to unite the community. "The concept is growing and each year Peace Week gets bigger," Henson said.

Many of the week's highlights were developed to bring children and their parents together to discuss how violence can touch their lives.

The rest of the Peace Week schedule:

Sunday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.: A showing of "The Color of Fear," a film about racism and multiculturalism.

Sunday at 7 p.m.: Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. will introduce his statewide media and violence campaign at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.

Monday from 6: 30 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Ways to break patterns of anger will be the subject of a seminar called "Keeping the Peace: Dealing With Anger in the Family" at Patuxent Middle School. To register, call (410) 880-5846 or (410) 740-9553.

Tuesday from 7: 30 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m.: County police will discuss "Substance Abuse, Violence and You" in Elkridge Landing Middle School.

Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Strategies to maintain and improve race relations will be discussed in a "Critical Issues Study Circles" session in Oakland Mills Interfaith Center. Sessions will be held once a week for five weeks.

Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11: 30 a.m.: An informational program for the clergy will be held at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center on "Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse."

Wednesday from 2: 15 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Wilde Lake High School students will discuss "Reducing Racial Tension in High School."

Wednesday at 4: 30 p.m.: Curran, School Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, Police Chief James Robey and State's Attorney Marna McClendon will discuss "Media Violence: Children and Crime" at Long Reach High School.

Feb. 20 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.: County police will discuss gangs in middle schools in Linden Hall at Dorsey's Search Village Center.

Feb. 20 from 7 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m.: A discussion of "Date Rape and How to Prevent It" will be held in Oliver's Carriage House, 5410 Leaftreader Way.

Feb. 20 from 7: 30 p.m. to 9: 30 p.m.: "Vandalism, Graffiti and Gangs" will be discussed at Owen Brown Middle School.

Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Wilde Lake Interfaith Center will be the site of "Teen Baseline."

Feb. 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: "Peer Mediation, Peer Help and Pizza" in Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.

Feb. 22 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: "Introduction to Pro-Active Parenting: Information and Discussion" will be held at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.

Pub Date: 2/13/97

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