Toys and children will always be an inseparable combination and, whether newly bought or passed on by older siblings, the new young owners will enjoy them the same way their older brother or sister did and maybe even suffer the same injuries (if there are any) which their older siblings suffered from.
If injuries can have devastating effects in adults, then imagine what effects these will have on children (and on their parents, who would never want their child ever getting hurt). A child getting injured can happen anywhere – inside the school, in parks or even inside the very house where the child lives. And injuries can be caused by anything, most especially by things least suspected by parents, such as pets, food or toys.
Despite the millions of toys recalled by the government in the past several years, many toys that contain toxic chemicals still found their way in store shelves and were bought by unsuspecting consumers. Many of these toys have been found to contain concentrations of toxic substances-like lead-which exceed federal standards, while others were found to contain either small parts that posed choking hazards to young children or sharp edges which posed risks of lacerations.
Toy safety standards, which are enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), specify the following: the required sizes of toys for, and the inaccessibility of magnets and batteries from, small children; noise and toxics limits; and, the clear display of labels that will warn parents/guardians about possible risks of choking hazards.
The problem with toys is that these do not come with ingredient labels like food items and many companies, especially those from overseas, do not advertise the harmful substances (if there are any) contained in their products. This situation practically leaves parents blind with regard to the safety of harmful products.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), which is a non-profit organization that aims to affect public policies through investigative journalism, grassroots organizing, direct advocacy, and litigation, believes that the shopping public needs to be continuously attentive and vigilant against potentially hazardous toys. In 2014 the group released its 29th report titled, "Trouble in Toyland," which highlighted potentially hazardous toys; the report also included tips for parents on how to keep children safe from the toys that they already owned. Adivce to parents included:
- Examining toys carefully for possible hazards before making any purchase
- Reporting unsafe toys and any toy-related injury to the CPSC at www.saferproducts.gov
- Checking the web address www.recalls.gov. for government announcements of recalled toy products
- Shopping with U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Toy Safety Tips at www.toysafetytips.org
For toys already owned, PIRG tells parents or guardians to:
- Keep small batteries out of children’s reach and remove these if there are questions over their security
- Make sure that toys appropriate for older children, especially those with parts that can choke or cause laceration, are kept out of younger children’s reach
- Cover the speakers of toys, which make very loud sounds, with tapes
- Make sure that toys with small parts or toys that have broken into small parts are out of young children’s reach