|A MESSAGE FROM EDWARD M. SWARTZ,
FOUNDER OF W.A.T.C.H. (1934-2010)
Edward M. Swartz' introduction to the frightening world of dangerous toys came about
in the course of his work as a lawyer. In his investigations of the
toy industry on behalf of Congress and clients, he became painfully
conscious of the risks to children when their playthings unreasonably
expose them to grave physical and psychological harm. Their toy boxes
are secret havens for death traps.
For over thirty years, Edward M. Swartz had occasion to look into the network
of common and statutory law that purports to protect children from
unsuitable and dangerous toys and other youth-targeted products.
The law can provide some degree of redress to the injured once an
accident has occurred, but this is not a sufficient remedy. Even
one injury to a single child is too many especially if it
could have been prevented.
Edward M. Swartz found a labyrinth of federal and state agencies with cross-purposes
and responsibilities, countless loopholes in the laws designed to
protect children, and a morass of technical obstacles to overcome
when trying to prevent and keep dangerous childrens products
from surfacing in communities.
Due in large part to the measure of attention the media has given
his work and the excellent response to and acceptance of his books, Toys That Donít Care (Gambit Books, distributed by Houghton
Mifflin, 1971), and Toys That Kill (Vintage Books/Random House, 1986), he was able
to force the industry to redesign and, in some cases, eliminate
many offending toys. While this is gratifying, more must be done.
What is necessary is to educate the next generation of consumers
about these perils.
As he stated in Toys That Kill, "Children must be educated about the dangers
that can exist for themselves, their friends, and relatives, brothers
and sisters. They must learn to be concerned citizens and crusaders
against things that are harmful to themselves and over which they
can exert some control."
With the help of the "TOYS, YOU
and the REAL WORLD" grade school curriculum, children will
gain the knowledge with which to make their own informed decisions
about toys already in use in their homes, and elsewhere. "TOYS,
YOU and the REAL WORLD" will use toys, and the children's interest
in those toys, to teach them about real world issues in a play setting.
Edward M. Swartz knew the children and their teachers would come to share his enthusiasm
and excitement about "TOYS, YOU
and the REAL WORLD". W.A.T.C.H. looks forward to visiting schools,
so that we can learn from the children what the consumer advocates,
manufacturers, and retail stores should be doing to make their world
a safer place.