For Americans who feel the hot breath of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies breathing down our necks with newly-minted “safety” measures the Nanny State assures us are for our own good, we might check out the new regulations promulgated by the European Union that now forbid children under eight from blowing up…not buildings, not schools, but balloons.
Yes, birthday and holiday parties for children in the European Union will never be the same again, with even party favors such as whistles now verboten under strict new rules, according to today’s Daily Telegraph:
Despite having been popular favourites for generations of children, party games including whistles and magnetic fishing games are to be banned because their small parts or chemicals used in making them are decreed to be too risky. Apparently harmless toys that children have enjoyed for decades are now regarded by EU regulators as posing an unacceptable safety risk.
Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a a long coloured paper tongue when sounded – a party favourite at family Christmas meals – are now classed as unsafe for all children under 14.
Not everyone is delighted by these new intrusions into family fun:
Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, warned that toy safety bans were part of a trend to micro-manage children’s lives at the expense of allowing them to explore, learn and have fun through play.
“Toys and activities, such as blowing up balloons, are part and parcel of the type of children’s play that helps them become independent and self-reliant,” he said. “These bans diminish the experience, both of having fun and learning, by turning play into a danger zone with rules that stifle life and adventure for children.” …Paul Nuttall, a member of the European Parliament’s consumer safety committee, said the “kill joy” world of EU officialdom was being ill-equipped to understand the concept of children having fun.
And don’t think teddy bears have escaped the disapproving glowers of the EU, either. Far from it:
All teddy bears meant for children under the age of three will now have to be fully washable because EU regulators are concerned that dirty cuddly toys could spread disease and infection.
And that’s not all! One last thing, while they’re at it:
As well as new rules for balloons and party whistles, the EU legislation will impose restrictions on how noisy toys, including rattles or musical instruments, are allowed to be.
Hmmm. That pretty much leaves pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey as the only children’s party activity left untouched. I bet that won’t last long. Think of the thumb-pricks when a young child, blindfolded, sticks himself rather than the donkey.
My prediction? Look for U.S. travel agencies to tout “children’s birthday party” trips to the Land of the Free, so European children can come here and be…children.