Given the troubling videos kids might come across while browsing YouTube or problematic scenarios that can crop up on social apps like TikTok, parents often feel like they're playing a game of Whack-a-Mole to shield their children from nefarious content. The latest concern: a Trolls World Tour Giggle & Sing Poppy doll made by Hasbro and carried at Walmart, which was recently pulled from shelves after parents shared their concerns with its design.
The controversy appears to stem from a video originally shared by a mom on Instagram named Jamie Cornaby, whose account is set to private, then reposted by a mom whose handle is RedPillBabe. In the clip, Cornaby shares that her 2-year-old daughter received the doll for her birthday. Judging exclusively from the description of the doll on the box—which explains that Poppy sings when you push her tummy—all seemed perfectly innocent. But upon further inspection, Cornaby noticed a button placed directly between the doll's legs, which, when pushed, causes the doll to giggle and make other sounds that could be perceived as gasps.
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In turn, Cornaby noted that the toy is "disturbing" and brought up the "sex trafficking of kids," noting that "things that are thrown in our kids' faces to groom them." She concluded, "I know some of you may not think this is a big deal, but especially since I've had kids, this is wrong."
Since being reposted by other moms, and racking up more than a million views in a matter of two days, the video was fact-checked by Instagram and Facebook, flagged as "partly false information." The full warning reads, "Partly false: The button triggers giggly sounds when doll is placed in a sitting position, not for grooming kids for sex." A separate fact-checking website, LeadStories.com, asserted, "The button on the rear bottom of the toy was designed to trigger giggling sounds whenever the doll is placed in a sitting position."
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Nonetheless, the design clearly raised many questions about consent and messaging around bodily autonomy for children. In response to the controversy, nearly 150K people have signed a petition to have the doll removed from shelves. "Our society is conditioning our children to think pedophilia is OK," the petition reads. "This is not OK for a child’s toy! This toy needs to be removed from our stores. What will this toy make our innocent, impressionable children think? That it’s fun when someone touches your private area? That pedophilia and child molestation are OK?"
Hasbro has responded to the uproar by pulling the toy from the shelves. The company provided the following statement via email: "This feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate. This was not intentional and we are happy to provide consumers with a replacement Poppy doll of similar value through our Consumer Care team. We are in the process of removing the item for purchase."
If you have the Trolls World Tour Giggle & Sing Poppy doll, you can reach out to the Hasbro Consumer Care team at the Hasbro Global Consumer Care website.