Chinese parents alarmed by miniature crossbow craze

BEIJING (AP) — Powerful mini-crossbows that shoot toothpicks and needles are the new must-have toy for schoolkids across China — and a nightmare for concerned parents and school officials.

Chinese media report that several cities have already banned sales of the palm-sized contraptions, which sell for about $1 and are powerful enough to puncture soda cans, apples and cardboard, depending on the projectile.

The fad appears to have sprung out of the southwest city of Chengdu but quickly spread to China's east coast and even across the border to Hong Kong.

Reports say parents across China have raised concerns with schools, with many calling for a nationwide ban.

Taobao and JD.com, China's two most popular e-commerce sites, have blocked sales, with searches for "crossbow" or "toothpick crossbow" returning empty.