Saturday, December 1, 2012

To Ban or Not To Ban?

On the heels of my last post, I have to bemoan yet another ban. This ban by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on a fun and creative toy called Buckyballs (a.k.a. Neocubes) claims the product is defective. The product is not defective, it works just fine. Buckyballs are 5mm magnetic balls sold in sets that can be manipulated into an amazing array of shapes and patterns. The toy is marketed to adults, not children, as an office toy / stress reliever. However, if swallowed, they can be dangerous as the magnetic beads can stick together pinching tissue and perforating the lining of the small intestine.

I never want to see a child harmed, but at the same time I don't think it's right that
a product should be banned because it is used improperly, such as being swallowed or used in ways other than intended. Buckyballs are aimed at adults and come with plenty of warnings that they should be kept away from children. And there are countless other products that should be kept away from children for their safety as well. Little children put things in their mouth, and as parents it's our responsibility to make sure they don't have access to dangerous products. We can't let them have toys with parts small enough to choke on. We need to be sure they can't get to guns, knives, tools, or poisonous plants such as azaleas, poinsettias, daffodils, or mistletoe. We need to keep medicines, cleaning products, alcohol and other poisons out of reach and locked up. The list goes on and on. 

The world is not a safe place and danger lurks around every corner. If we banned every product that is potentially dangerous what will we be left with? Should we ban cars? How many deaths are attributed to automotive accidents each 
year? Should we ban products made of glass which is dangerous when broken?  How about the top ten most often choked on foods? Should we ban hot dogs, popcorn, marshmallows, grapes, nuts, carrots, candy, gum, apples and peanut butter? More than 2800 people choke to death each year on food and other small objects. 

Maybe we should mandate that all corners in our homes and on our furniture be rounded. Fireplaces would need to go. And what about toilets since those have enough water in the bowl to drown a child? All handheld appliances have the risk of causing electrocution. A metal object poked into an electric outlet can be the end of a small child. In fact, electricity itself should be illegal, it's very dangerous and accounts for approximately 1000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Dogs can bite. Bookcases can topple. Clothes can strangle. 

Does this list seem ridiculous? Is it any more ridiculous than banning Buckyballs? Where does the madness end and personal responsibility begin? Why should the error in judgment of a few spoil the fun for the many? Banning dangerous products and regulating the safety of others that are marketed at children is important, such as ensuring painted toys are lead-free. I never want to see a child harmed, but I also don't think that we should ban things because they are used improperly. We haven't banned balloons and those are most definitely targeted at children and a huge choking hazard. Perhaps we should. What do you think?


  1. This is ridiculous. It highlights the failure of parents to take responsibility for being parents and blaming someone else for their shortcomings or lack of attention to their primary job. Then they expect someone else to take care of it by "regulating" -- WTH. These and dozens of other things shouldn't be banned, parents need to pay attention to their kids and environment. Simple!

  2. You have hit on one of my pet peeves Megan. Our parental duties include teaching children about safety, which is hard to do when all potentially risky things are removed from their lives by various safety mandates. I fondly remember playing with yo-yo's as a kid during recess. When my boys were growing up, yo-yo's were banned from the school grounds because someone might get in the way and be hit by one; marbles were not allowed in their school because of the potential choking hazard; pogs (how much safer can you get then round cardboard disks?) were banned because the kids who couldn't afford to have as nice collection as someone else would feel bad. I TOTALLY agree with your statements: "Where does the madness end and personal responsibility begin? Why should the error in judgment of a few spoil the fun for the many? "

  3. Megan, you nailed it! magnets are dangerous? how about window cleaner? if kids swallow that they could die! Pennies are dangerous too, so we should ban all money just to be sure. Dogs bite people so wile we are at it lets get rid of ALL the dogs... and I saw a cat scratch a kid once so they need to go too!

    Good grief! thanks for writing such an awesome post!


  4. Interesting that these are banned - because they could be dangerous if used incorrectly - but think of all the things that are dangerous for us when they ARE used correctly. So strange the battles the gov't chooses to fight....

  5. I agree, wholeheartedly! I watch with almost disgust as simple things are taken away from us... and from the children. My kids are no longer allowed to have snowball fights at school because someone might put a rock inside one of the snowballs. Hmmmm. I was a kid for quite a few years, and snowball fights were a big part of our Winter fun every year.

    It's interesting what the government does try to monitor and what it doesn't... :)