The Anti-Violence Campaign is the ongoing project of the International Health & Epidemiology Research Center.  The Anti-Violence Campaign is a comprehensive violence prevention/intervention project that strives to eliminate mortality and  morbidity in children/youth.  We do this by influencing children's learned responses at an early age.  This campaign educates and raises awareness about the hazards of guns, toy guns/weapons, and violence among children, parents, and educators.  This is done through presentations, workshops, letter writing, influencing toy manufacturers and policy makers, media coverage, art exhibition( Replacing Violence with Art), and Anti-Violence Day events.  At the events, children turn in their toy guns/weapons, and instead, create a piece of art with the collected weapons.


Problem: Violence is a social disease which has now reached it's epidemic iceberg, and is becoming the # 1 public health problem.  Violence, especially gun violence, is killing more children than many diseases combined. Violence is the most important issue facing our children and youth today in the U.S., and the target age group for violence is getting younger everyday.

The U.S. ranks tremendously behind many other industrialized nations not only in regards to infant mortality and number of uninsured, but also in violence, homicide and especially gun violence, few statistics are given below:

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Considering the facts that :
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        Based on the facts given above, The International Health & Epidemiology Research Center, a non profit organization, was founded in 1994 by Dr. Farideh Kioumehr to promote public health and prevent disease through research, education and intervention.  She founded the ANTI-VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN in 1995, and devoted her time voluntarily, to address a growing social epidemic affecting children throughout the country: violence, and killing involving real and toy guns.  This project was created in response to the staggering exponential growth of violence involving children and guns.  The project serves children ages 2 to 14 throughout California, from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, representing the rich diversity of the larger community, and plans to expand to cover the entire nation, and hopefully the world.

PURPOSE: The ultimate goal of the ANTI-VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN is to create a healthier, violence free society for future generations:

        Short term:

        Long Term:

Children /youths, their families, educators, professionals, community leaders and the general population, with priority given to minorities, and those most vulnerable, in undeserved, un/underinsured, and gang infested areas.


Public/private schools/districts, different communities & organizations, health departments, churches, children museums, etc.


Providing education, raising awareness, and conducting the "Anti-Violence Day" Events, presentations, workshops, distribution of educational materials, petitions, influencing policy makers, letter writing, and through the media and art displays by:


Toy weapons are increasingly being used to commit real crimes, and more children are being killed when a toy gun is mistaken for a real gun.  Consider the following alarming facts about toy guns, crimes, and children being killed:

  1. On June 21, 1997, an entire terminal at Los Angeles International Airport was evacuated, grounding at least 15 flights, when a cigarette lighter shaped like a pistol was mistaken for a real gun.
  2. On March 1st, 1997, a 6 year-old boy's toy gun caused the evacuation of the  San Jose International Airport, in California.  More than 20 flights were affected.
  3. On Memorial Day, May 29, 1995 in Carson Park, California, Freddy Palacio, a 12 year old, was shot twice by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who mistook the $2 toy gun for a .22 caliber pistol.
  4. On Sunday, April 2, 1995, in the City of Terrace, California, 18 year old Santiago Lopez Garcia was shot to death by the police because he had a cigarette lighter, which resembled a gun in his hand.
  5. On April 3, 1995, police almost shot at Robert Alvarez, a 28 year old man, in East L.A. because he had a lighter the shape of a semiautomatic pistol. He was arrested and charged with suspected brandishing of a firearm "on a public thoroughfare."
  6. In October of 1994, Nicholas Heyward Jr., a 13 year old boy, and straight A student of Brooklyn, NY, was shot in the chest and killed by a police officer when he was playing with his toy gun.
  7. Jamiel Johnson, a 16 year old boy, was shot and wounded on the same day, and in the same city as above.
  8. In 1994, toy guns were reportedly used in 329 felonies in New York alone.
  9. In 1991, a 3 year old boy was shot and killed by his grandfather in Northern California, while playing, and by mistake using his real gun instead of his grandson's toy gun.
  10. In 1987, Leonard Falcon, a 19 year old boy from Rancho Cucamonga was shot and killed by a San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputy while playing with laser tag gun, which resembled a real gun.
  11. In 1983, a 5 year old boy was shot and killed by an Orange County police officer because he was holding a toy gun.
  12. Studies show that most children younger than 8 can't reliably distinguish a toy gun from a real gun. (Ms., May/June 1994, Vol. IV, No. 6, P. 40-41).

    Through a community-based campaign, and a strong collaboration with public and private schools, government agencies, communities, and non profit organizations, the International Health & Epidemiology Research Center is empowering educators, public, parents, and children with essential information.  The campaign's vital message: guns are not toys, and violence is not play; both real and toy firearms can kill.

     This innovative project has been carried out successfully in many public/private schools/districts, different communities, public/private organizations, professional meetings, churches, and children museums throughout California.  It has also drawn national and international attention. The Anti-Violence Campaign  has directly served over 150,000 children, parents, and professionals and has also indirectly  served millions, throughout the world, through media since its inception in April 1995.

 Anti-Violence Day Events: 

    For the first time, we carried out this project  very successfully on April 2, 1995 for a minority community. Then, in several private schools  in April and May of the same year.  This project also took off, with great
success, in California  for the Hispanic/ Latino Community in Pacoima on October 28, Monroe Complex of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), including 15 schools, on October  21 in North Hills, and several centers of the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles on October  16-17 of 1995.  Then, due to its tremendous success and great demand, this project was carried out for the second time in  3 parks (in Northern and Southern California) for the Iranian community on March 3, the Jewish community on April 14, Jordan/Lock Cluster of the LAUSD (including 25 schools), S. Central  Los Angeles, on May 18, Nickerson Garden Housing in Watts area (mostly African American  and a very low socioeconomic area) in Los Angeles on August 26, and in Santa Barbara, CA,  on December 7, 1996.  Our most recent project was on April 6, 1997 for the
Iranian Community, in two parks in Irvine, Orange County (3rd Annual), in Chatsworth, California (2nd Annual), in  the San Fernando Valley, California and on April 10, 1997 at the Los Angeles Children Museum. in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Health Department  During these events, children turned in their toy gun/weapons, and instead used them to create a giant collage with an anti-violence message.  This art piece was kept at the Los Angeles Children Museum for two months for the public to view.  Children who did not have a toy gun to turn in were encouraged to write short stories or create art work about danger of guns in society.  Each child who participated received a certificate and a "Say No to Toy Guns/Weapons" T-shirt as a reward.  The children, by wearing these T-shirts, could be "walking billboards" to help their communities; discouraging the use of violence and the violence objects.  The families also learned the immediate danger imposed on their children by real, and toy guns.  These events were broadcasted nationally and internationally.  One of the articles about this project, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times is enclosed.  Schools and communities in different states such as Oregon, Ohio, New York, and Florida have expressed great interest for carrying out this campaign/project.


    In addition, and prior to the Anti-Violence Day events, we have provided over 25 lectures, workshops, and presentations for parents, educators, community representatives, and at scientific meetings throughout California.  The statistical analysis of questionnaire data support that over 90% of adult participants determined:

        - Replacing Violence With Art:  We have successfully been able to involve well-known artists and art students, and they have created many professional works of art with anti-violence messages with toy guns and weapons surrendered at events.  We are also trying to encourage the schools and other institutions to put an emphasis on the importance of replacing violence with art for their students, especially in their art classes.

Influencing Policy Makers and Educators:

We already have endorsements and support from the National School Safety Center, the Los Angeles Unified School District (board members, Safety Planning and Multicultural Education Committees), Claremont Graduate School, Physician For Social Responsibility, Los Angeles County Health Department, Los Angeles Children Museum, American Academy of Pediatrics, Iranian Medical Association, Santa Barbara Women Against Gun Violence, Vice President Al Gore, Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Hilda Solis, Councilman Alarcon, and Councilman Feuer, and many more.

Media :

Strong media coverage of each event, numerous newspaper articles, (copies are available upon request), and extensive radio and television interviews with Dr. Kioumehr have successfully augmented the ANTI-VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN'S message, and millions of people have been served in this way nationally and even internationally.
For more information please refer to Anti-Violence Campaign  homepage.