Toy Safety

November 15, 1972

Report Outline
Pre-Christmas Concern about Toy Safety
Growth and Regulation of Toy Industry
Trends in Toy Manufacturing and Sales

Pre-Christmas Concern about Toy Safety

Estimates as to Number of Toy-Related Injuries

Tis The Season to be merry—and wary. Christmas, as Norman Rockwell-type posters and cards, advertising slogans and adult nostalgia attest, is mostly for children. To the typical American child, the important thing about Dec. 25 is opening his gifts. To a parent, it is often watching the youngster happily unwrapping his new playthings. An increasing number of parents, however, are concerned about whether the toys they purchase will continue to be a source of joy or whether they will cause injury or even death.

More than half of the children's toys purchased in this country are bought during the Christmas season. There are few statistics—none definitive—on how many children are hurt by the toys they receive then or at any other time during the year. Only a small minority injured by their playthings require hospitalization and thus show up in the accident figures. In addition, it is often difficult to determine whether mishaps result from inherently dangerous toys or from a child's abuse of a normally safe object. And how can psychological harm be measured?

The most frequently quoted statistics on toy-related injuries were furnished in 1968 by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Hew estimated that toys—not including swings, slides, bicycles and sports equipment—caused 700,000 injuries a year. Walter Johnson, deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration's Injury Data and Control Center, told Editorial Research Reports that those figures—which he called a “very conservative guestimate”—were still the best available. They were widely publicized by the National Commission on Product Safety.

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