The device, called a “toothpick crossbow”, was originally intended just to fire toothpicks, but kids are now swapping them out for more dangerous items.
Philip Le Shirley, RoSPA’s product safety manager, told HuffPost UK: “Our advice is for parents not to let their children have them as they are unlikely to pass UK product safety standards.”
The ‘toothpick crossbow’ toy trend has spread “like wildfire” among primary and middle school children in China, according to the Shanghai Daily newspaper.
“The unusual shooting toy may be very small but it is powerful enough to puncture a balloon and pierce cardboard,” the paper states, before explaining that when a toothpick was swapped for a needle, it could crack a sheet of glass if fired straight at it.
The handheld crossbows can be bought in the UK on eBay and other online retailers including Amazon.
According to the BBC, police in China are cracking down on shops near schools selling the dangerous toy.