March 5, 2021

TDmonthly Magazine

November 2020 | Vol. XIX - No. 11


By Press R.
November 2020

48th Annual Report Cautions Parents:
Beware of the Danger of Purchasing Potentially Harmful Toys

One Child Is Treated In U.S. Emergency Rooms Every Three Minutes For A Toy-Related Injury

At a time when children are spending more time playing at home to curb the spread of Covid-19, toy safety remains a critical concern. World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc. (W.A.T.C.H.) today revealed its nominees for the “10 Worst Toys of 2020” and demonstrated why the “Calico Critters Nursery Friends,” “Star Wars Mandalorian Darksaber,” “Missile Launcher,” and other potentially hazardous toys should not be in the hands of children. Although intended for fun and entertainment, many toys contain hidden hazards unnecessarily putting children at risk of injury or death. At this year’s press conference at Franciscan Children’s in Boston, W.A.T.C.H. offered practical tips for identifying hazards, so parents and caregivers know what traps to avoid when inspecting toys already in their homes and when buying toys—especially in the upcoming 2020 holiday shopping season.

Consumer Advocates Joan Siff, President of W.A.T.C.H., and James Swartz, Director of W.A.T.C.H., illustrated some of the safety hazards recently identified on toy store shelves and online, including toys with small parts or fiber-like hairs with the potential for choking or ingestion injuries, a particular concern for young children. Highlighted at this year’s conference were toys that encourage aggressive or violent play that could result in potential impact or laceration injuries and toys sold with unrealistic warnings and instructions. Swartz and Siff also discussed the impact of online purchasing on toy safety, up-to-date information about toy recalls and the necessity for more stringent oversight of the toy industry. One reason the message today is so urgent: Many toy-related injuries are preventable.

With the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, families looking for ways to keep their children engaged while socially distancing at home are relying on manufacturers more heavily to make sure their children’s toys are designed with safety as the top priority. Unfortunately, there have been many deaths, disfigurements and disabilities inflicted upon children as a result of poorly designed and tested toys. There is an average estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries to children each year . For over four decades, W.A.T.C.H. has tackled the issue of dangerous toys in the hope of bringing about change and reducing injuries to children. Nonetheless, dangerous toys remain on store shelves, in catalogues, and on e-tailers’ websites. Shockingly, classic toy dangers, such as small parts, strings, projectiles, toxic substances, rigid materials, and inaccurate warnings and labels, continue to reappear in new generations of toys putting children at risk.

Steps for a Safer Holiday Season and Beyond:

The holidays may look different this year due to travel restrictions and social distancing protocols, but children are still excited to play with their favorite toys. During this time of change and uncertainty, when families and caregivers look to toys for their children’s entertainment and engagement, the toy industry experienced a 19% growth in the first three quarters of this year . Although there is much that families may not be able to control during COVID-19, there are some steps they can take to have a safer holiday season when it comes to toy safety.



First Line of Defense– Safe Design and Manufacture: Many toy-related injuries and deaths could have been prevented with better designed, manufactured and marketed toys. In a toy industry generating approximately $90 billion dollars in global sales annually , safety concerns must be a priority, not an afterthought. The difficulty in purging the market of goods that have been recalled shows the burden must be on manufacturers and retailers, not consumers, to identify the known hazards before their products enter the channels of commerce. Many of the toys recalled in the last year not only put children at risk of serious injury or death, but are also evidence of substandard manufacturing practices and inadequate pre-market testing. The best weapon in the fight to prevent injuries to children continues to be preventing unsafe toys from reaching consumers in the first place.
Stricter Government Enforcement: The CPSC needs more tools to oversee a $28 billion U.S. toy industry and the manufacture of safe products for children. These tools include increased funding, an expanded workforce, more product testing, stricter safety requirements, broader and better-publicized notification of recalls and hefty fines imposed on manufacturers whose toys are recalled or found to be defective.

Spread the Word: Social-distancing does not mean families are on their own when it comes to toy safety. W.A.T.C.H.’s #SHOUTsafety campaign is a call to action emphasizing the importance of sharing safety information to help reduce preventable injuries. Armed with information about what types of defects have been associated with injuries in the past, more consumers can make informed decisions when choosing children’s products. Thanks in part to the efforts of W.A.T.C.H., toy safety has become an active conversation that has led to significant changes in the industry and increased regulations. While a step in the right direction, regulations should be a floor, not a ceiling, for toy safety. As a result of advocacy, the industry and regulators continue to be held accountable to make safety a priority and millions of toys have been re-designed, recalled, or otherwise identified to consumers. There is more work to be done to prevent needless and tragic injuries to children as a result of poorly designed and manufactured toys. A key message today is to let consumers know that while there are dangerous toys being sold in retail stores and online, advocacy and awareness this holiday season and year-round can truly save lives.

W.A.T.C.H.’S 2020 “10 WORST TOYS” LIST: Consumers can help children enjoy a safer holiday season knowing what traps to avoid when selecting toys. W.A.T.C.H.’s “10 Worst Toys” list, a hands-on tool for consumers, raises awareness of the different types of potential hazards to avoid while toy shopping. The particular toys nominated for the “10 Worst Toys” list are illustrative of some potential hazards in toys being sold to consumers and should not be considered as the only potentially hazardous toys on the market.

  1. Estimates for Different Age Groups 2010–2018 (CPSC 2020 Report Toy Related Deaths and Injuries for 2018)
  5. 2020 Report Toy Related Deaths and Injuries for 2018
  7. (Lili Llama Recall), (Aflak Duck Recall), (Lawn Dart Recall)

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