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The BBC's Graham Majin
"Pokémon cards are proving disruptive"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 April, 2000, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Schools ban Pokémon cards
Boys trading Pokémon cards
Pokémon cards are the latest craze among children
As an animated film based on the video game phenomenon Pokémon opens in the UK on Friday, teachers across the country are banning Pokémon cards from their schools.

Collecting and trading the cards, which feature different Pokémon monster characters, has become a huge craze among school children.

It seems an innocent thing in conception but it has a knock-on effect. It puts enormous pressure on parents who want their children to have everything.

Liz Paver, head teacher

But some schools are finding the competition between young collectors too much to cope with, so have banned pupils from bringing their cards to school.

Pokémon -The Movie has already proved a massive hit in the United States, where it grossed more than $50m - nearly Ł31m - in its first week of release.

It is expected to be equally popular with children in the UK, who are worrying their parents with the spiralling cost of their hobby.

scene from Pokémon - The Movie
Pokémon - The Movie has already proved a huge hit in the US

Packs of 11 cards should cost Ł2.45, but single cards can change hands for as much as Ł30, while on internet auction sites, bids of Ł300 are not unheard of for rare cards.

There have been stories of bullying, intimidation and "aggressive trading" among children desperate to complete their collections of 150 cards.

In the US, police denounced the cards as "America's most dangerous hobby" after a surge in child crime. Six children were arrested in Philadelphia for a Pokémon-related assault.

'Peer pressure'

Liz Paver, head of Intake Primary School in Doncaster, is among a growing number of head teachers to ban Pokémon cards.

She said: "They are quite expensive items and a week or two ago, I stopped a boy who had Ł30 worth in his pocket. We are not an affluent area and that's an enormous amount of money.

"I don't think manufacturers take into consideration the conflict these things bring about.

Pokémon character
The cards feature different Pokémon characters

"When kids are swapping the cards they can say they didn't mean it, they want them back.

"Teachers are having to spend time sorting out situations to the detriment of their relationship with the children.

"Peer pressure is the most dangerous thing and there's a great temptation to take money to buy them if they don't have it.

"It seems an innocent thing in conception but it has a knock-on effect. It puts enormous pressure on parents who want their children to have everything."

'Craze could die'

Julia Burton, head of Moseley CE Primary School in Birmingham, who has also banned the cards, said: "I just don't know where the children are getting the money from. But it was the aggression involved that made me act so swiftly."

But Jon Salisbury, editor of UK Toy News, believes the anti-social aspects of the cards can be controlled.

He said: "It's like any desirable object, it's up to parents to control what their children do about it. The cards are the zenith of the craze.

"The toys and video games are doing nicely but the cards are the most user friendly things available.

"You could say this is dangerous and we are encouraging children to spend money and be avaricious. Well, aren't we as adults subject to the same temptations?

"It doesn't intentionally pander to those demands and we have to monitor it. But it's down to parents. I don't think it's socially unacceptable and anyway, the craze could be dead in the water tomorrow."

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02 Mar 00 | Education
School pays for lost Pokémon cards
28 Dec 99 | Americas
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15 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Pokemon zaps US cinemas
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