Nearly half the toys tested in a recent study that were purchased from third-party sellers via online marketplaces could choke, strangle, burn, poison and electrocute children, according to a shocking new report commissioned by the British Toy and Hobby Association.
Launching today, the BTHA’s new campaign – calling for urgent changes to the law so that children can play without risk of injury or death – is being spearheaded by Sam McCarthy, mother of 2-year old Rebecca McCarthy. Rebecca almost died as a result of swallowing magnets that were purchased on eBay after mistaking them for sweets.
The latest findings from the BTHA’s 2021 online marketplace toy safety investigation are deeply disturbing: 255 toys sold by third-party sellers via Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and Wish were randomly selected, inspected and tested. Eighty-eight per cent were illegal and 48 per cent were unsafe for a child to play with. The report includes examples of unsafe toys purchased via online marketplaces that were identified during the BTHA’s investigation (pictured above) – and the damage they can inflict on a child.
Unlike traditional retail, there is no legal requirement for online marketplaces to check the safety of the products that other sellers are listing on their site. Instead, it is left to the individual sellers, who are often based overseas, outside the jurisdiction of UK enforcement – and no one in this supply chain is responsible for checking the safety of a toy before it reaches a consumer’s home.
The BTHA’s latest campaign, which launches today, calls on the government to urgently change the law before a child dies or more children are seriously injured.
Natasha Crookes, Director of Public Affairs for the BTHA, says: “It is not acceptable that unsafe and non-compliant toys are simply allowed to enter the UK market, putting children at risk of serious harm. We believe the government has to step in to legislate this wild-west of safety and we must see politicians from all sides of the House coming together to protect children as part of the UK review of the product safety framework in 2021.”
As we approach the season of Christmas shopping and festive online sales events – a time when more potentially unsafe toys than ever can find their way into children’s homes – the BTHA emphasises how vital it is that that parents are aware of the dangers and the safe places to buy toys, and that the government takes stock of the gravity of the situation.
An online hashtag movement – #toysafety, #childsafety, #buysafely – has been created to coincide with the findings of the BTHA’s report, with a call to action to allow parents to join their voice to the campaign for change. Concerned parents can visit www.toysafety.co.uk to sign a petition to put pressure on the government to change the law.
More information can be found on the British Toy and Hobby Association’s website.