The Dammit Doll left some shoppers appalled
A Canterbury city centre department store has been slammed for selling a stress reliever doll critics claim promotes violence and could lead to child abuse.
The controversial Dammit Doll is on the shelves at Fenwick in Whitefriars, with people encouraged to slam it against a wall to let off steam.
But some shoppers in Canterbury said the toy sends out the wrong message to children and could encourage copycat violence.
Among them is retired children's nurse Phyllis Church, 65, who said she was so appalled when she spotted the dolls on sale that she complained to the store's manager.
She said: "He said they're just a bit of fun, but I disagree. I think they’re really shocking and irresponsible.
"We give children dolls to cuddle and look after. They're important learning tools, and help children to act out real-life situations.
"If they witness adults banging dolls against a wall, would they then feel it would be acceptable to bang their dolls against walls and then progress to babies when they're older?
"I feel it's a really poor-taste thing to sell. To me, it's as bad as the mental patient costumes that were taken off supermarket shelves recently. It gives children the wrong impression."
Mrs Church was referring to controversy surrounding Halloween costumes being sold at Asda and Tesco, which depicted the mentally ill as axe-wielding psychopaths.
One of the stress dolls with the suggestion to ‘grasp it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it’
The £9.95 Dammit Dolls come in a variety of colours and patterns, and each have a poem stitched on them that reads: "Whenever things don't go so well, and you want to hit the wall and yell, here's a little Dammit Doll that you just can't do without.
"Just grasp it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it. And as you whack the stuffing out, yell 'dammit! dammit! dammit!'"
Dammit Dolls spokesman Amanda Youssef insisted the dolls are a novelty item created as a way for people to relieve stress "in a comical way".
She added: "Consider the Dammit Doll a new age stress reliever. We don't claim to cure anger or stress issues, but rather offer a product that is considered a 'gag' and not meant to take the place of any professional help should there be anger or stress issues.
"The product was created for adults and it is up to the consumer as to how the Dammit Doll is used with or around children."
Fenwick in Canterbury city centre
Fenwick spokesman Charlotte Hamilton confirmed Dammit Dolls were on sale in the Canterbury store, but declined to comment further.
Whitefriars spokesman Martyn Barr added: "I understand Dammit Dolls have been around for a long time, are often homemade and are only sold to over 18s. We have had no complaints or inquiries about this product."