Having seen the article on the dolls with cancer-causing chemicals, my mind went into over-drive – consumerism, pester power, unscrupulous unregulated suppliers – whose fault is it that children are being exposed to harmful chemicals and what should be done about it?
As a mother, it horrifies me that children could be harmed by their play things. I then asked myself why it seems so much worse that children should be made ill by the cancer-causing chemicals in a doll that they cuddle than injured by playing inappropriately with their older brother’s toys, or even falling off a bike or breaking their wrists tripping over on roller skates. It took me a while to figure out why it was worse, I just knew it was.
I’m all for risk in play but parents make judgements about risk all the time as do children. The important thing is that they are informed risks. Parents who know that boys play fighting may get bumps and bruises make a decision as to how far to let that go – with these dolls, parents have not been given the choice to make an informed safety assessment. Toys are tested so rigorously that parents’ trust in them, especially toys bought in the UK, is very high – and rightly so. We have stopped being sceptical of knock offs and in the climate of pester power and tightened purse strings, it is no wonder that parents are tempted to buy products without checking for the safety, it is almost like we have become victims of our own success at toy safety. Many parents now do not even know how to tell if a toy is safe and has passed all the relevant tests.
In addition, it’s important to look out for the fire retardant symbol if a toy is made from soft material and if appropriate the age sign that shows a product may pose a choking risk and is therefore not suitable for children under 3 years of age.
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer