President’s Letter: Toy Association Debunks False Claims About Toy Safety
December 1, 2020 | While those of us in the toy industry know our deep commitment to safety, each November we inevitably see the release of “dangerous toy” lists from NGO groups. These lists, filled with inaccurate and misleading information, do nothing more than create unnecessary fear in parents, and therefore for the entire toy & play sector, as the holiday season draws near. Meanwhile, these groups advance their own agendas and holiday fundraising appeals and garner sensational headlines.
Again this year, U.S. PIRG and W.A.T.C.H. put out their groundless reports ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, and The Toy Association was there to contest their claims by providing facts, data, and proof about the billions of compliant toys sold in our country each year. What’s more, we again made proactive outreach to support and counsel all member companies targeted by these groups.
In the end, our effective year-round efforts to educate both media and families on how to keep children safe at play together with the toy industry’s dedication to safety continue to pay off. That positive impact becomes even more evident during the holidays. This year, PIRG’s media reach significantly declined, with about half the number of media placements covering its report compared to 2019 (386 placements this year versus 734 in 2019). Of those, The Toy Association’s statement was mentioned and/or Toy Association staff was interviewed in 42 percent of the media coverage – up 12 percent over 2019.
As for coverage of the W.A.T.C.H. report, released the Monday before Thanksgiving, there were 528 fewer total media placements compared to last year (1,108 placements in 2020 versus 1,636 placements in 2019). The Toy Association statement, explaining that W.A.T.C.H. does not actually test the toys in its report and that their personal views and allegations appear to be based on their misrepresentation of the mandatory toy standards, was included in 81 percent of all print/online W.A.T.C.H. coverage this year.
We believe the decline in media interest in these reports can be attributed in part to The Toy Association’s aggressive ongoing safety communications, which has also put a spotlight on the many inaccuracies, myths, and exaggerations in the reports year after year. With every passing day, more media rely on us for information, perspective, and data on toy safety, recalls, and helpful consumer tips.
Designing, manufacturing, and selling safe toys for children is the toy industry’s top priority and involves adhering to a mandatory set of 100+ rigorous safety requirements that are continually reviewed and revised by government, medical, and child development experts. The toy community has a remarkable record of producing safe product – and recalls are exceedingly rare. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission consistently lists toys among the safest consumer product categories found in the home.
The Toy Association continues to educate consumers about the safety of toys sold by legitimate/verified sellers and to provide shoppers with safe toy, play, and shopping tips at www.PlaySafe.org – including how to spot and avoid purchasing counterfeit and imitation toys, the importance of parental supervision during play, and why the age-label on toy packaging matters. And, yes, we report on every toy recall that might occur each year.
The real irony is groups like PIRG and W.A.T.C.H. could contribute meaningfully to the safety conversation and do actually include important points that we, too, embrace, such as avoiding counterfeits sold online and being mindful of following age gradings. Yet instead of amplifying these helpful points that are less sensational but more essential, they choose to bury them beneath scare tactics that do nothing to advance toy safety and result in very little, if any, real value to the public.
We encourage our members to reach out to The Toy Association’s communications team should they receive media questions about toy safety and to continually share the safety advice found at www.PlaySafe.org with parents and caregivers through digital, social, and other media communications.