Do We Really Have To Worry About Kids Impaling Themselves on Batman Dolls?

That, my friends, is the question I ask today in my alternate life on I zydaztsfdk
am really getting sick of all the warnings about dangerous toys.

On a very related note: Today there was a report about all the hideous dangers of holiday  ornaments. I agree: You probably don’t want to put a hand-blown crystal ball from Bavaria in the crib next to the toy hammer.  But please. The report  mentions 76 Xmas-occasioned hospital visits over the course of 13 years, or about 7 a year.

Maybe while we’re at it we should start issuing  warnings about holidays requiring dress shoes, because of the danger of tripping over untied laces. Or holidays where the family gathers together in a single room,  as overcrowding on the couch could cause someone to slide off.  And let’s not forget the very real dangers of candy canes!

There must be some very real dangers of candy canes, right? — Lenore


42 Responses to Do We Really Have To Worry About Kids Impaling Themselves on Batman Dolls?

  1. Elizabeth December 16, 2009 at 3:37 am #

    Hell yes! Candy canes are SUPER dangerous. Don’t you remember licking/sucking them into a super sharp point like a shiv? You could put an eye out with those things. 🙂

  2. Marion December 16, 2009 at 3:57 am #

    LOL! My brother and I would have sword fights with sharpened candy canes!

    FIVE accidents a year from holiday ornaments, and none of them fatal. You are probably more at risk driving your kid to the emergency room.

  3. Jacqui December 16, 2009 at 4:02 am #

    the very real danger of grossness.

  4. Jen Connelly December 16, 2009 at 4:40 am #

    I made it 33 years without ever being seriously injured by a Christmas ornament (have torn my hands up putting the tree together and getting lights on it).

    4 kids and so far none of them has ever gotten injured from an ornament. Sure they occasionally knock one off and it breaks. But then they come get me and I sweep/vacuum it up and it’s over with. I also taught my toddlers to stay away from the tree. For the most part they listened.

    I have a 3yo now and she doesn’t even bother the tree. She just looks at the ornaments and if she does touch one it is the non-breakable ones (because they look like toys). I have more issues with the older kids screwing with the tree then her.

    And I thought it was just common sense to put breakable ornaments up high. I hung almost all the breakable ones, the older kids did a few but kept putting them all right in the same spot. That’s exactly how my mom did it when I was a kid.

  5. Roque daudt December 16, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    What also worries me in all of this is that – the way things go – the next step is to have Social Services knocking at your door because a neighbor has denounced you for having a Christmas tree at home and, in doing so, failing to provide proper care to your infant.

  6. Lisa December 16, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    Small typo here. It should be “less than 6 visits a year”
    not “about 7 a year.”

    13 x 7 = 91

    13 x 6 = 78

    There were only 76 hospital visits in 13 years, so the number of visits must be less than 6 per year.

    (Note: I would go with 6 rather than 5 because 78 is closer to 76 than 65 is.)

  7. Jay E. Adrian December 16, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    Batman dolls? Please, Lenore, they are action figures. 🙂

  8. Jerri December 16, 2009 at 5:17 am #

    When my husband was a kid their tree did fall on him (he was running around it). But he jokes about it, he wasn’t traumatized. He just learned not to run around the tree.
    I suppose now his parents would be charged with neglect, after all the tree wasn’t anchored to the wall.

  9. Lorene December 16, 2009 at 5:58 am #

    My parents never let me have ribbon candy because I might cut my esphogus (sp?). I have it every year now and I don’t even like it!!!!

  10. brian December 16, 2009 at 6:38 am #

    The worst that should have happend is the management of the mall could have asked him to leave. The parents are in their rights to ask for a photo to be removed. (some religions are very much against it)

    A lawyer that is also a photographer wrote a “rights pamplet” that photographers can print out and take with them:

  11. DirtyHooker December 16, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    Pick any human behavior at all and someone will find a way to get hurt or die doing it.

  12. Aaron December 16, 2009 at 7:30 am #

    When you’re a hammer, everything is a nail. That’s why front-line soldiers don’t set policy. (and that applies to any endeavor). Just because something exists, doesn’t mean we have to ‘do something’ about it.

    However, in a litigious society, there is a lot of CYA going on and that drives a lot of policy. In some countries, the official policy is that the acceptable level of risk to children from products is ‘zero’.

    I participate in the US toy safety standards process and see a lot of this raw data. I can tell you that no matter what you design, given enough time, some kid, somewhere will find a way to ingest it, choke on it, lacerate themselves, or otherwise find injury.

    Its the law of large numbers. But, most people don’t understand statistics.

  13. Doesnotwishtobenamed December 16, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Of course lollypops are horribly dangerous! Aside from the risk of being impaled by a sharpened end, a child might drop it on the floor pick it up and lick it, they also look like those things near railroads to keep cars off when a train is passing , so a child may go to lick on of those, get their tongue stuck, and be hit by a train, all because they weren’t taught that not all things red and white are edible!

    On a serious note, this article just depressed me

  14. E. Simms December 16, 2009 at 9:32 am #

    @Elizabeth: “Hell yes! Candy canes are SUPER dangerous. Don’t you remember licking/sucking them into a super sharp point like a shiv? You could put an eye out with those things.”

    More than once, I managed to draw my sister’s blood with one of those dangerous candy canes. It was premeditated; I sucked on it until it had the perfect sharp point. Yes, my sister was and is a PITA, but no, I did not become a serial killer.

  15. furious December 16, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    While we are at it dont let the kids decorate the tree either, they might eat those decorations because they are so darn tasty looking Jeeze, People can be so paranoid.

  16. alexicographer December 16, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    @Jerri “When my husband was a kid their tree did fall on him (he was running around it). But he jokes about it, he wasn’t traumatized.” I (well, my brother) can beat that … he (and my mom) spent the night in the ER after he had an allergic reaction to the tree — after pulling it over on top of himself (he was 2). No lawsuits were filed, but we did have a (yuck) artificial tree for about 10 years and then went to cutting our own when my folks were scandalized by how much the costs had risen in the years we were (real) treeless.

    As for those dangerous holiday ornaments, the 6 or so injuries per year are just at one (large) Boston hospital, so the rate’s not as modest as it might sound, but I’m not saying it warrants, well, anything.

  17. Bob L December 16, 2009 at 11:08 am #

    Could not find an e-mail addy for you. CHeck this out. A bit on the overkill, no matte what the rest of the facts are.

  18. Matt December 16, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    I did eat an Xmas ornament. My mom had a set of six plastic apples. (About the size of a small lime.) At my second Xmas I ate one of the ornaments and was fine. Another one of them broke, but to this day we still have 4 apple ornaments.

  19. Val December 16, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Candy canes are dangerous. I can’t tell you how many times I have sliced my tongue open (like blood coming out of my mouth) because it gets a little tiny hairline crack in the side and I run my tongue across that blade…it’s why I only eat using the bite and chew method now.

  20. gramomster December 16, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    Dress shoes… heck yes those things are dangerous! Slippery laces on boy ones, and NO TRACTION on girl ones. Those shiny sparkly dressy shoes are slick as snot! Even on carpet, forget snow and ice if you live in that.
    I used to love them. I could slide around the carpeted sanctuary on Christmas eve as though I were in socks on hardwood! Oooooo…. rugburn!

  21. Jen C December 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    LOL This article and the subsequent comments gave me the giggle I needed after working 4 solid hours on a final paper for my philosophy class. Thanks! XD

  22. Elfir December 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    You know the real Christmas tree danger? Kitties!! Other than kitty-related incidents, the only time ornaments broke were while trying to put them up in the first place. Sometimes those little hooks just don’t want to find the branch.

  23. Gustavo Solivellas December 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    Kids and dangerous objects:
    Gever Tulley gives a very smart approach here:

  24. Abe Froman December 16, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    So, this reminded me of an old Saturday Night Live Skit from the 70’s with Dan Aykroyd and his dangerous toys. Here’s the link. Enjoy.

  25. sonya December 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    My then two-year old once pulled the whole tree over. Then stood there amazed at what she’d done while her older sister screamed and screamed (because her favorite ornament had broken). We did wire the tree to the wall for a couple of years as a result, but still buy glass ornaments….When the kids were very little (i.e. pulling things apart, putting in the mouth age) we only used paper homemade ornaments (because I didn’t want my good ones to get broken, not because I was worried about the kids getting hurt).

  26. NJMom December 16, 2009 at 11:20 pm #

    @shedoesnotwishtobenamed…and the Dr. Phil slide show. That is really, really scary. I have never seen Dr. Phil, but I thought he was sensible! It’s a COMPLETE abuse of power. It’s UN-empowerment masquerading as parent/child “family rules” negotiation. And he’s wrong anyway. I have read–maybe in Lenore’s book?–that predators really don’t want to deal with kids who are pitching fits. That’s Hollywood you know what. So, I think Dr. Phil is endangering that girl and we should call DYFS on him.

    And one more thing…the mom clearly has an anxiety disorder. My son was 8 and got “lost” in a parking garage. (BTW, he didn’t think he was lost.) I panicked (but kept my outward cool as my daughter was with me), but we turned it into a lesson. Not a “don’t leave my side” lesson, but a “what do you do if we get separated again” lesson. That’s real life!

  27. LauraL December 16, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    @Lisa: It should be “less than 6 visits a year”…

    Actually, it should be “FEWER than six visits a year”…

    /grammar silliness


    I sure hope we start learning common sense soon. When I was growing up, my parents told me that I didn’t have any – I was clueless. But you know what? I had a hell of a lot more then that a good number of adults do now.

  28. Sky December 17, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    I generally advise my children not to eat the Christmas ornaments.

  29. jim December 17, 2009 at 1:12 am #

    @Lorene – ribbon candy is much worse than you think. If you can find someone stupid enough (fraternity pledges usually qualify) to bite down and chew on a piece of the green ribbon candy and a slice of raw onion at the same time, it leaves the most gawdawful toothpaste-and-mouthwash-proof taste in the victim’s mouth for days on end.

  30. Lisa December 17, 2009 at 1:45 am #

    @LauraL: I’m a grammar nut too and I’ve often wondered about this one. So maybe you could clarify something for me. Whole number are countable, and therefore we should use “fewer than” rather than “less than.”

    But does it matter if the exact, unstated number contains a fraction–or perhaps is even irrational, as this one is?

    Or do we just go based on whether or not the stated number is a whole number, and therefore countable?

    (Oh, the dangers of being both a grammar geek and a math geek…)

  31. pinkhairedloli December 17, 2009 at 2:59 am #

    @Bob L
    A followup article regarding the 2nd grade Jesus kid:

    It sounds like the teacher read too much into the boy’s drawing and thought it was a cry for help.

  32. Into The Wild! December 17, 2009 at 3:33 am #

    I’ve never had any problem with my kids getting injured by ornaments or the tree, however, we do have a “cat loves to climb ANYTHING” problem. Our tortoise shell cat (I suspect she has ADHD) will move heaven and earth to get to the highest point of any part of the house, including the tree. Last year she made it into the upper center of the tree, after being tossed out of the top cabinet above the frig (yes, she did) and was able to remain hidden for several hours. Until the other cats found her and did not want to be left out of the fun. Being a one-size-does-not-fit-all tree, it came down HARD, causing all 3 cats to become furry projectiles, along with all of the ornaments AND hooks AND candy canes. The cranberry and popcorn garland slingshotted around the t.v. set and impaled the tree top angel in the wall. Wished I’d had a video camera.

    Wow, does that mean we should ban cats during the holidays due to their inability to remain stationary in proximity to massive amounts of Christmas decor?

    Sheep. We are all becoming sheep, being blindly herded along by the PC Police. Sad.

  33. sonya December 17, 2009 at 4:03 am #

    Regarding the Dr Phil story I couldn’t believe this quote: “I won’t let my wife walk a quarter mile to the 7-11” !!! What kind of husband is that who tells his wife what she’s not allowed to do! No wonder American is becoming so obese when people think walking anywhere (just a quarter of a mile!) is too dangerous.

    Also it’s quite funny in view of the arrest at mall story that he thinks the mall is too dangerous. Given overzealous mall security I’d think it would the last place anyone could be abducted, particularly by force.

  34. Stephanie December 17, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    I’ll admit that this year my tree is gated off… but only for my 10 month old. Pretty hard to keep a baby that young from wanting to play with all the pretties. Next year or the year after there will be no gate, just as we did with each of the older kids.

  35. Sarah December 17, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    I had to chime in on this. In the three weeks our tree has been (nearly) upright, with decorations on the top half (like it worked, HA), I have discovered, in various locations around the house, about 20 glitter covered polystyrene bells with bites out of them. Since we only have 8, I can only assume that they have been lifting the same ones from the tree repeatedly. Other than some festive looking poo, no harm done. Lesson learned? It doesn’t matter if you put the ornaments up high, because they’ll just climb the couch when you’re not looking. I removed the breakable ones, and just hope for the rest to survive the rest of the season.

  36. jim December 17, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    @Into the Wild – That is a great story! I’d pay to see that video. One of these days this site needs to go off on a riff about kids and pets – worse, dumb reasons folks come up with for their kids not to have pets. Moi, I’m running for the US Senate one of these days on the single-issue platform that pet deposits are unconstitutional.

    @Lisa – just round the fraction up to the next number and take it (grammer-wise) from there. Just out of curiosity, do you wake your significant other up at 3 am with questions like this? Sounds like several women I’ve dated…..

  37. Uly December 18, 2009 at 12:02 am #

    @LauraL: I’m a grammar nut too and I’ve often wondered about this one. So maybe you could clarify something for me. Whole number are countable, and therefore we should use “fewer than” rather than “less than.”

    It has nothing to do with whole numbers, and everything to do with the distinction between count nouns and mass nouns. Count nouns are things like raindrops – you can count them. Mass nouns are things like rain – you can’t count them.

    Sometimes words can fit into both categories with subtly different meanings. Take water – normally, it’s a mass noun. “A cup of water”, not “A cup of 5 waters”. However, we can use that same combination of sounds “water” as a count noun meaning “bodies of water” – “And the face of God moved upon the waters…” (or whatever it says, I’m not googling the Bible now).

    HOWEVER, it’s all a moot point because the “less/fewer” argument is of relatively recent vintage, has no basis in linguistics (descriptivists, unite!), doesn’t fit how people actually speak, is largely meaningless, and has been “broken” by esteemed writers both before and after the concept was formulated. Language Log has touched on this issue a few times (, but they’re hardly alone.

  38. Uly December 18, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    Also, it’s important to note that sometimes, over time, words have changed from being mass nouns to being count nouns (and possibly vice versa). The canonical example is “pease”, as in “pease porridge hot”.

    Pease was a mass noun like rice. You can’t “count” rice – you have to count grains of rice or cups of rice or some such thing, but you can’t say “I have four rices” unless, perhaps, you mean something like “Varieties of rice”, and even then it sounds weird, doesn’t it? (That’s the true meaning of grammatical, of course – if a native speaker wouldn’t say it and would think it sounds weird, it’s probably not part of the grammar of the language.) But over time people started thinking of pease not as being a mass noun, but as being a count noun – pea – plus the plural ending -s. And they started using it that way, and now FireFox puts a little red line under “pease” to say that it’s not found in spellcheck. Language changes, and isn’t it beautiful?

  39. jim December 18, 2009 at 4:16 am #

    @Uly – oh, the high school English teacher (RIP, Mr. Spears) who taught me conversation Chaucerian and graduate-level grammer when I was 16 would have had fun talking to you….

  40. Uly December 18, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    Well, I get along with just about anybody (more or less…) so long as we’re on the same side of the prescriptivist/descriptivist divide.

    (Actually, I don’t, but you know what I mean.)

  41. lonedattyof3 December 21, 2009 at 5:20 am #

    There’s a distinction between warnings and recalls. A warning, no matter how silly, can inform action. My window blinds have a sticker warning that the cords are a hazard (so I shortened them). The holiday tree lights have a warning tag that the cords contain lead, so I don’t allow baby to assist and I wash my hands after handling them. No need to recall, thank you.

    That’s not to forgive corporate profiteers who cover up serious flaws in their products, contaminants in our water, etc….