FORGET mobile phones, Sunny Delight and strange men inviting children to see their puppies. There is only one real danger to the world's youth: Beanie Babies, writes Nicolas Barnard.
They may just look like cuddly toys but these insidious creatures are a Trojan Horse, brainwashing children into the ways of consumer capitalism, promoting elitism and the white majority, and teaching them to accept death and divorce - not to mention McDonald's.
It must be true: there's an academic paper to prove it. Written by Dominic Scott of New Mexico State University, it was presented to last month's meeting in New Orleans of the American Educational Research Association.
Cuddlier than Pokemon, but no less collectable, Beanie Babies have enthralled children since 1992 - "a rejetion of the encroaching power of technology over young lives," says Mr Scott. But their passive nature gives them "power to mould young minds".
Children learn "price, value, scarcity and product differentiation". It's only a short step to "distinguishing between ordinary people and rich people, undesirable people and mainstream people, between us and the 'other'," Mr Scott warns.
There are so many, children become used to Western abundance - compensation in a world of impermanence (Beanies are all limited edition). Some even come free with that other flagship of the American way of life, McDonald's.
What worries Mr Scott most, though, are the absences. There are no revolutionary beanies, no trade unionist beanies. And worst of all, no teacher beanies.