Dubai: In response to several parents’ reactions on social media to hidden sexualised messaging targeted at young children on a widely-popular brand of toy dolls, the Child Safety Department (CSD), an affiliate of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, shared its concern in a statement. It called on parents to share more playtime with their children and take the extra step to ensure their children’s toys are safe and suitable for their age.
Gulf News impact: UAE parents’ voices matter
Gulf News reported on the LOL doll controversy on 19 August, after speaking to parents who were raising awareness of the hidden sexualised messaging on some of their children’s toys.
In an exclusive statement to Gulf News, Toys R Us, the distributor for these dolls in the MENA region, said that they would be removing the dolls from their stores.
Toys can have a powerful influence on children
Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of CSD, said: “The Child Safety Department is taking the complaints made by several UAE mothers on social media platforms very seriously, and is verifying their accuracy with the relevant authorities. We are cooperating with relevant government entities to address and resolve any potential dangers to children. It is a part of our responsibility to respond to any threats that children may face and raise awareness about them, as well as offer the right solutions and share good practices.”
Al Yafei stressed that children’s safety can be especially compromised through their toys. She said: “Many children become very attached to their toys, particularly girls to their dolls, as they often build close emotional relationships with them, communicating and playing with them as if they were raising them. This makes it even more crucial for parents to ensure that these toys convey the correct messages and values to their young ones.”
Al Yafei lauded the efforts of the mothers who stepped forward to voice their concerns and warn other parents. “When it comes to children, the responsibility goes beyond parents, nannies and teachers. It is the responsibility of the entire community. It falls on each one of us to warn and alert others against any dangers that could jeopardise children’s psychological, physical or social safety,” she added.