Game company Hasbro has removed a toy from the shelves of retailers following complaints that an inappropriately placed button on a troll doll was tantamount to pedophilic grooming.
The move came after a petition was launched accusing the company of pushing child abuse by placing a button between the legs of a Poppy Trolls doll, specifically the "DreamWorks Trolls World Tour Giggle and Sing Poppy." When pressed, the button makes the doll say things that sound sexualized, such as "whee" and "oh," and gasping and giggle sounds.
The troll doll also had a button on the stomach that, when pressed, prompts the doll to say things like "How about a hug?" The doll is based on the 2016 movie "Trolls." A sequel, "Trolls World Tour," was released in March.
"[T]this feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate," Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duffy said in a statement to CNN.
"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," Duffy added.
Many who had purchased the toy uploaded videos of the troll doll making the sounds, expressing their disgust and alarm.
The petition asserted that society is conditioning children to believe that pedophilia is acceptable.
"This Trolls World Tour doll named Poppy has a button on her private area under her skirt. When you push this button on the doll’s private she gasps and giggles. This is not okay 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? It’s not ok! It’s not fun! It’s damaging and has long term effects on a child’s mental/physical health!" the text of the petition reads.
As of Friday, the petition — which was addressed to major retailers like Target, Walmart, Amazon, and other stores — garnered over 285,000 signatures.
Jessica McManis, the mother who launched the petition, thanked the signers for their support Thursday.
“I didn’t expect my petition to blow up like this! I’m so happy it did! They recalled the doll today,” she posted on Twitter.
“There’s no way someone at Hasbro didn’t think that it was weird when deciding to create this doll like that.”
Hasbro is the also maker of Transformers, G.I. Joe, Monopoly and other children’s toys and games.