Can children's play be too safe?


#1

I came across this article this week while in the same week my son was in tae kwon do camp.

shine.yahoo.com/event/summertimefun/have-playgrounds-become-too-safe-for-kids-2513862/

The article is on playgrounds, but I wonder if the same can be true for day cares, homes and schools. I will admit to surprise with how rough this week was for my six year old son. He has always been rather on the sensitive side, (I won't say wussy) but I was impressed with how he handled this rough week. He can home with bruises twice and blisters from Wednesday on. Each day, and at the end of the week, he went on and on about how much fun it was and how he wants to do it again next year. Many of the games they play are way beyond what he would ever get at school. His bruise under his eye came from dodge ball which is banned in many schools now. He also played (rough?) with kids twice his age, but also very well mannered.

I guess it was a little of an eye-opener of the advantages of this type of play. It not only was fun, but it also taught him that getting hurt is not an occassion for whining. Whether it was the peer pressure of the other kids to be tough or the respect of the master and teachers, he never complained about the rough stuff. I know a day care would never get away with this type of play.


#2

Yep, I think play is too safe now. We took DS to the playgroup yesterday, and I thought of this essay. Our playground is totally sanitized - no swings, no seesaws, no merry-go-rounds, no monkey bars, and no heights to jump from (there are bars).

One little girl was clinging to a wobbly-bar thingie a foot off the ground and whining that she couldn't get down :eek:. All I could think: child, my six-year-old self would have been leaping off the top of something right about now.


#3

Our daughters were involved with figure skating from the time they were 3 and 5 years old. Over the years, some of the injuries that they suffered were horrendous. My older daughter had her nose slashed open. She also broke her hip (stress fracture) from falling so much on jumps. And once during a competition, she fell flat on her belly--twice in the same program. She had a ganglion cyst the size of a golf ball on her ankle (she called it her "alien baby.")

My younger daughter is a little luckier, but she suffered from chronic aches and pains all over her body, mainly knees and ankles. She's a physical therapist today, mainly because she spent so much time in PT growing up that she felt that it was a good career.

Both girls still skate, even though they are now 25 and 28. My older daughter is taking a pre-gold ice dancing test next week.

Figure skaters wear absolutely no protective equipment. No pads. No helmets. They are zooming around slippery ice in close proximity to several dozen other skaters, and supporting themselves on two razor-sharp blades that are only one-eighth of an inch thick.

It's a very very dangerous sport. And yet, many people don't even consider figure skating a sport. Go figure.

Very early in their skating careers, I learned as a mom that I can't be too soft. You can't skate without falling--a lot.

I think that kids are wimps today. Last week we saw, in the same newspaper, an article about how the percentage of childhood obesity is rising alarmingly--and also an article about how we shouldn't allow our children to play outside in this heat wave because they might die. What's a parent to do? Death by tater chips and computer, or death by playing in the heat?

Sigh. Good thread.


#4

[quote="Cat, post:3, topic:249426"]
Figure skaters wear absolutely no protective equipment. No pads. No helmets. They are zooming around slippery ice in close proximity to several dozen other skaters, and supporting themselves on two razor-sharp blades that are only one-eighth of an inch thick.

[/quote]

And they look fantastic while they're doing it. As a child I had all the physical grace of a newborn calf - still do, frankly - and I used to wish so badly I could wiz around on ice like the skaters on television. Sigh...


#5

Yes.

The no dodge ball, no red rover, no tag, no winners and losers rules are all silly. And not realistic.

In life, there are winners and losers, and part of growing up is learning how to deal with both. Being a graceful winner is as important an learning how to be a non-whining loser. We also learn more from mistakes than from successes, so by losing, one actually might learn how to do something better and then improve for next time.

Some kids on our school playground at recess cry and whine at the slightest "hurt", which is often literally nothing. Sorry, but someone who walked past you and brushed your arm you did NOT hurt you. Your little hangnail does not require a trip to the nurse. Tripping over your own feet might have embarrassed you, but it did NOT hurt you! Losing the recess football game should not send some 10 and 12 year old boys to tears, yet it does - every year. Ridiculous.

My boys as well as nearly all the neighborhood kids had airsoft guns a few years ago. These are the plastic guns that shoot plastic pellets. Every day for about 2 summers, there were "airsoft wars" in our neighborhood. Every kid put on swimming goggles for eye protection, formed teams, reviewed the rules of what could and could not be shot, grabbed their weapons, strategized, and played, shooting each other. These pellets stung a bit and left little red marks, but did not break skin. One of my sons came home after one such "war" just covered in red marks. I thought he might be mad or sad or hurting or something, but he was laughing and saying it was so much fun and could not wait for the next round. Another kid across the neighborhood who had watched a few of these forays joined in one day and got shot. He got so mad that he grabbed the gun of the kid who had shot him, threw it down (breaking it), and stormed off.

One of my favorite things to play on was a teeter totter. The best part was when the other rider would let their end hit the ground which would send me up off the seat up in the air. We could do that for hours! Now there is no such thing.


#6

I remember talking to a guy who was let's say 25 and he was telling me about his 10 year old brother who grew up with all these safety rules. He said that when he was a kid, he learnt if you don't want to get hurt be careful. His brother grew up with 'you must wear a bike helmet'. So when his brother falls off his bike and hurts himself, it is society's fault for not having protective gear. He said it is causing a real attitude

I was in Hungary and there were a bunch of kids at recess playing tag on some old stairs made of stone that weren't even and I was shocked. They could easily cut themselves. The tour guide just told me 'We teach our kids to be careful'

I do agree it has gotten to be too much

CM


#7

We just put our seven year old in tackle football at the local Jesuit high school football camp. (wrings hands and laughs manically).

It is going to do him a lot of good. He likes to tackle, but whines when tackled backed. We are really looking forward to him being in an environment where he can't run to us for protection, he is just going to have learn to deal. The best part is that this is still in a Catholic environment, so unusually malicious behavior is not permitted.


#8

[quote="Cat, post:3, topic:249426"]

(Snip)

I think that kids are wimps today. Last week we saw, in the same newspaper, an article about how the percentage of childhood obesity is rising alarmingly--and also an article about how we shouldn't allow our children to play outside in this heat wave because they might die. What's a parent to do? Death by tater chips and computer, or death by playing in the heat?

Sigh. Good thread.

[/quote]

Great Post!! I only quoted this part though because it really points up a big problem today.

TOO MUCH INFORMATION (TMI)

When I use to watch the even news regularly it seemed that several times a week there would be this report of that study or some new book or some lawsuit about kids diets, activities, cleanliness etc...Ad nausium...
And the funniest thing is that this year a study would conclude one thing and next year a "New study" would conclude the opposite...:shrug:

Kids play - they get dirty - they get hurt - and sometimes, unfortunately a child will die. but we can never make them completely safe and teach them about life either.

When I was a kid, we lived in a semi-rural area and didn't go to playgrounds. We played in the fields and in the creek. We swung from grapevines, sometimes 10-15 feet above the ground. I nearly broke my back by landing across a fallen log when a grapevine failed to hold me.

Skinned knees, bruises, black eyes, even a broken arm or leg, is all part of growing up...

It's too bad that the schools and communities have been forced by lawsuits to be so restrictive.

Peace
James


#9

I fully agree with the ideas here. Unfortunately society has become such that children are not safe outdoors unsupervised in many areas. However, I see so many children who have been kept in a "safety bubble" so long that it does affect them emotionally. They think that any dirt or injury is appaling and go running to parents for comfort. One of the recent things that shocked me was my grandchildren's reaction to insects. I used to love watching and studying them. I even got my girl scout "Insect" badge one year at day camp by catching and identifyingg 20 some kinds of insects. I thought it was fun. My grandchildren shriek and yell when they seee bugs, even the teenagers, and call for their parents. Even "no-see-ems" send some of them running! Bugs are a fact of life. We share the earth with them. They aren't going away. Better for kids to learn to live with them when they are young. Who is going to save them from bugs at college?


#10

I taught middle school for 3 years and I can't tell you how many kids were afraid of failing. I don't mean getting an F, but afraid of not being perfect. They would not raise their hands if they thought they might be wrong, and they thought a B was a bad grade.

And yes, lots of the boys were wussies. Sorry, but IMO they were being raised by dominant moms (and dads who were afraid to speak up). I'm generalizing, not all were this way, but LOTS more than when I was a kid. I felt sorry for a lot of the boys.


#11

[quote="Hecares, post:9, topic:249426"]
I fully agree with the ideas here. Unfortunately society has become such that children are not safe outdoors unsupervised in many areas. However, I see so many children who have been kept in a "safety bubble" so long that it does affect them emotionally. They think that any dirt or injury is appaling and go running to parents for comfort. One of the recent things that shocked me was my grandchildren's reaction to insects. I used to love watching and studying them. I even got my girl scout "Insect" badge one year at day camp by catching and identifyingg 20 some kinds of insects. I thought it was fun. My grandchildren shriek and yell when they seee bugs, even the teenagers, and call for their parents. Even "no-see-ems" send some of them running! Bugs are a fact of life. We share the earth with them. They aren't going away. Better for kids to learn to live with them when they are young. Who is going to save them from bugs at college?

[/quote]

Oh, wow! Fear of little bugs must be an epidemic among children.

A few weeks ago, my 9-year-old niece spent the night at my house. Around 7:30 p.m., I asked if she would like to go up to the park where I always take my evening walk (even in bad weather). I told her she could walk with me, or play on the playground while I walked.

She told me that her parents didn't allow her outside in the evening because of MOSQUITOS!

I just about lost it, but I didn't say anything. I don't want to undermine the parental authority.

But golly--mosquitos?!

Of course, it doesn't help that in Illinois, there's this sad radio ad that plays every hour with a weepy-sounding man who tells us the tragic story of his beautiful young wife who DIED of West Nile virus within three days after getting one mosquito bite! :crying: So that means that we should never, ever, EVER allow ourselves to take the risk of encountering a mosquito, or we might DIE!!!!

Why can't people just use common sense?! If humans were doomed to die every time they got a mosqito bite, the United States, especially Illinois, would be completely empty of people by now!


#12

[quote="Cat, post:11, topic:249426"]
Oh, wow! Fear of little bugs must be an epidemic among children.

[/quote]

I am still working on that one, specifically with wasps. I am trying desensitization by have my son help me shoo away wasps (safer ones). Not much luck. I am also teaching the difference between the non-aggressive type and the hyper-aggressive ones.

The other related topic is that of bullying, which is always bad. However, in order to protect children from ever having to deal with a bully, we have developed so really weird, unworkable and overprotective rules.


#13

Children's play can be too safe, but most of the changes made to playgrounds weren't done to prevent bruising. They were done to prevent playground fatalities. Really.

safekids.org/our-work/research/fact-sheets/playground-safety-fact-sheet.html


#14

[quote="pentecostbaby, post:2, topic:249426"]
Yep, I think play is too safe now. We took DS to the playgroup yesterday, and I thought of this essay. Our playground is totally sanitized - no swings, no seesaws, no merry-go-rounds, no monkey bars, and no heights to jump from (there are bars).

One little girl was clinging to a wobbly-bar thingie a foot off the ground and whining that she couldn't get down :eek:. All I could think: child, my six-year-old self would have been leaping off the top of something right about now.

[/quote]

I'm sort of envisioning an empty field.:D

We have a nice playground, lots of climbing things, things to hang from. For safety there are nice thick rubber pads at the base of the various equpiment


#15

When I was a kid, we were swinging on a vine over a pretty deep gorge. I did a classic "George of the Jungle" right into the tree the vine hung from. Hit the tree, knocked myself out, fell about twelve feet.

One of my friends ran to get her dad. He got there, took one look at me and said, "You're alright. Just walk it off". He walked me the two miles or so home and presented me to my parents. By this time, I had a really wicked looking goose egg on the side of my face.

My mom - the one who was supposed to take me in her arms and shout, "Oh, my poor baby!" - took one look at me and said, "Are you OK? Good. Go put some ice on your face."

I was fine and it was just understood that things happen in childhood and children survive.

If that had happened today, there would be CT scans and MRIs and lawsuits and, of course, child protective services would be all over the parents for letting us play in the woods.

If it was raining, then we were allowed to play on the porch. If it wasn't, then my mother would pack us a lunch, push us out the door early in the morning, tell us to play until suppertime.

Our children are a lot like that. We have a large farm that backs up to a very large and very seldom used state-owned forest. Once their chores are done and if their studying is done, they're gone and they don't come back until we call them for supper. We have no TV, our phone service is spotty at best, we don't have any video games, our internet is limited to things that are related to work/school, and we don't even get but two radio stations. And yet, all of our kids' friends love it here because they've been raised in front of the TV and computer screen and being outside is like a whole 'nother world for them.

We host at risk children on our farm and you'd be amazed at the number of children who literally do not know how to play. They come here and the children want to play hide and seek and it's like they're speaking Martian to these children. .


#16

[quote="Rag_Hanger, post:15, topic:249426"]
When I was a kid, we were swinging on a vine over a pretty deep gorge. I did a classic "George of the Jungle" right into the tree the vine hung from. Hit the tree, knocked myself out, fell about twelve feet.

One of my friends ran to get her dad. He got there, took one look at me and said, "You're alright. Just walk it off". He walked me the two miles or so home and presented me to my parents. By this time, I had a really wicked looking goose egg on the side of my face.

My mom - the one who was supposed to take me in her arms and shout, "Oh, my poor baby!" - took one look at me and said, "Are you OK? Good. Go put some ice on your face."

I was fine and it was just understood that things happen in childhood and children survive.

If that had happened today, there would be CT scans and MRIs and lawsuits and, of course, child protective services would be all over the parents for letting us play in the woods.

If it was raining, then we were allowed to play on the porch. If it wasn't, then my mother would pack us a lunch, push us out the door early in the morning, tell us to play until suppertime.

Our children are a lot like that. We have a large farm that backs up to a very large and very seldom used state-owned forest. Once their chores are done and if their studying is done, they're gone and they don't come back until we call them for supper. We have no TV, our phone service is spotty at best, we don't have any video games, our internet is limited to things that are related to work/school, and we don't even get but two radio stations. And yet, all of our kids' friends love it here because they've been raised in front of the TV and computer screen and being outside is like a whole 'nother world for them.

We host at risk children on our farm and you'd be amazed at the number of children who literally do not know how to play. They come here and the children want to play hide and seek and it's like they're speaking Martian to these children. .

[/quote]

Sounds a lot like how we were raised...
I remember if we fell and came crying our mom looking us over quickly and saying - "no blood, you'll live"...:p
But if we needed a band-aid, or an icepack or whatever, you could be sure you'd get one...

Glad to see I wasn't the only one here to have a "George of the Jungle" moment on the grapevines...

Peace
James


#17

[quote="Cat, post:11, topic:249426"]
Oh, wow! Fear of little bugs must be an epidemic among children.

A few weeks ago, my 9-year-old niece spent the night at my house. Around 7:30 p.m., I asked if she would like to go up to the park where I always take my evening walk (even in bad weather). I told her she could walk with me, or play on the playground while I walked.

She told me that her parents didn't allow her outside in the evening because of MOSQUITOS!

[/quote]

In fairness, I wonder if the Parents just used that excuse, instead of having to explain their real fear...or used to provide a simple excuse for saying no?

In any case, connecting mosquito more or more able to carry disease ] bites to evening time is misleading.

We are more aware of misquotes at night because they are attracted to light sources Just as we are...we turn on the lights - light the campfires etc ] and gather / swarm near these. There is far much more infrared light sources during day time...and so mosquitoes are more disbursed.

animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/mosquito.htm


#18

[quote="EasterJoy, post:13, topic:249426"]
Children's play can be too safe, but most of the changes made to playgrounds weren't done to prevent bruising. They were done to prevent playground fatalities. Really.

safekids.org/our-work/research/fact-sheets/playground-safety-fact-sheet.html

[/quote]

Less than five kids a year die on public playgrounds? Am I reading that right?


#19

Thanks in part to the hyper-litigious society we've created and live in, I fear the days of kids banging themselves up on public land is waning. The equipment and play surfaces in the parks in my community are so padded and rubbarized a kid would almost have to have a deathwish to get really hurt. There are safety rails everywhere. And the playground and playground equipment at my daughters' school is similarly cushioned and soft and safe.

Contrast that with my elementary school, whose playground was backtop and gravel, shaded by huge buckeye trees that dropped pretty-but-poisonous seeds about the size and density of golf balls and whose seed pods had spines that easily pierced flesh. When the sisters weren't looking we used to hurl buckeyes and pods at each other in "buckeye wars," and come in from recess covered in bruises and nicks.

The kicker was that somebody grew digitalis along the fence bordering the playground and the rectory. Could you even imagine that today?

Anyway, kids play today may be safer, but is it "too" safe? I'm glad my daughters don't come home bruised and bleeding from school. I'm happy we're not in the ER a couple of times a year. In fact, we've only had to take one girl to the ER once, after she got a wild hair up her rear end, took the trash out barefoot, and ended up with glass in the sole of her foot.

I think my kids are learning about themselves, rule making and breaking, the reciprocity of relationships, interpersonal communication skills, being a good leader and a good follower, all the stuff kids learn through play, right now, without getting all banged up. I like the idea of my daughters in one piece. :p


#20

[quote="EasterJoy, post:13, topic:249426"]
Children's play can be too safe, but most of the changes made to playgrounds weren't done to prevent bruising. They were done to prevent playground fatalities. Really.

safekids.org/our-work/research/fact-sheets/playground-safety-fact-sheet.html

[/quote]

I would disagree. Most of the changes to playgrounds were done to prevent lawsuits and had little to do with actually protecting children.


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