Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Education United States News

Can a Playground Be Too Safe? 493

Hugh Pickens writes "John Tierney writes that the old 10-foot-high jungle gyms and slides disappeared from most American playgrounds across the country in recent decades because of parental concerns, federal guidelines, new safety standards set by manufacturers and — the most frequently cited factor — fear of lawsuits. But today some researchers question the value of safety-first playgrounds. Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries — and the evidence for that is debatable — critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone. 'Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,' says professor Ellen Sandseter. 'Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play over the years.' After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play, although fear of litigation led New York City officials to remove seesaws, merry-go-rounds and the ropes that young Tarzans used to swing from one platform to another."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Can a Playground Be Too Safe?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:54PM (#36837756)

    is far broader than our playgrounds.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:22PM (#36838142)

      The "safety net problem" is far bigger than that, indeed. Mostly, it's due to parents who would love to pack their kids in cotton boxes 'til they turn 18. Oddly, the same parents then kick their kids out as soon as they're 18, unprepared and unfit to survive in a world they have never seen.

      Parents, your job is to prepare your kids for the life when they're fully responsible for their actions. It doesn't say anything about them not having had a single cut or bruised knee in their time 'til then. Bones heal. Scars heal. And you'd be surprised what damage children can sustain, where you witness it and you're sure they have to be dead, only to notice the child is wiggling his limbs, dusts himself off and climbs back onto the tree. Kids have tremendous healing ability, unparalleled any time later in their life. In other words, childhood is the perfect time to learn what is possible with your body and what is not. Your chances to survive stupid stunts will never be higher.

      The problem is also a psychological one. If you keep your kids locked away 'til they are 18, you not only limit their development and their ability to judge their own abilities, you also prepare them for a life of missed chances. They will look back at their childhood and realize that they "lost" 18 years of their life. Also, their social development will suffer. They will not be able to interact sensibly with peers, and they will not be prepared for the dealings of social life and interactions. In short, they will be the tool in whatever company they will work in.

      That's called bad parenting. Not having a child that has a skinned knee every now and then. Bad parenting is simply not preparing your child for the life after you're no longer responsible for them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Pope ( 17780 )

        The "safety net problem" is far bigger than that, indeed. Mostly, it's due to parents who would love to pack their kids in cotton boxes 'til they turn 18. Oddly, the same parents then kick their kids out as soon as they're 18, unprepared and unfit to survive in a world they have never seen.

        Nope, it's worse: they still don't let them go, accompanying them to job interviews and trying to make sure their university profs are assigning them homework. Do a search on "helicopter parents" to read the true horror of what these morons are doing to their poor kids.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        It's partly parenting, but I think it's the lawsuit factor that gets people scared.

        Where once parents let their kids play and get cuts and scrapes, they now look at it as a sort of lawsuit jackpot. "My kid got hurt! Sue!" in the hopes of extracting a five or six figure settlement.

        It only takes the court to issue one judgement in favor of the parent before all the stuff comes down. Then said idiot parent goes in front of all the TVs and bleats about how dangerous stuff is, etc.

      • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @06:20PM (#36839938) Homepage

        Some books related to your excellent points:

        "In defense of childhood: protecting kids' inner wildness"
        http://www.chrismercogliano.com/childhood.htm [chrismercogliano.com]
        "As codirector of the Albany Free School, Chris Mercogliano has had remarkable success in helping a diverse population of youngsters find their way in the world. He regrets, however, that most kids' lives are subject to some form of control from dawn until dusk. Lamenting risk-averse parents, overstructured school days, and a lack of playtime and solitude, Mercogliano argues that we are robbing our young people of "that precious, irreplaceable period in their lives that nature has set aside for exploration and innocent discovery," leaving them ill-equipped to face adulthood. The "domestication of childhood" squeezes the adventure out of kids' lives and threatens to smother the spark that animates each child with talents, dreams, and inclinations."

        "Last Child in the Woods"
        http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/ [richardlouv.com]
        "In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation--he calls it nature-deficit--to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression."

        "Underground History of American Education"
        http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/16a.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
        "A huge price had to be paid for business and government efficiency, a price we still pay in the quality of our existence. Part of what kids gave up was the prospect of being able to read very well, a historic part of the American genius. Instead, school had to train them for their role in the new overarching social system. But spare yourself the agony of thinking of this as a conspiracy. It was and is a fully rational transaction, the very epitome of rationalization engendered by a group of honorable men, all honorable men -- but with decisive help from ordinary citizens, from almost all of us as we gradually lost touch with the fact that being followers instead of leaders, becoming consumers in place of producers, rendered us incompletely human. It was a naturally occurring conspiracy, one which required no criminal genius. The real conspirators were ourselves. When we sold our liberty for the promise of automatic security, we became like children in a conspiracy against growing up, sad children who conspire against their own children, consigning them over and over to the denaturing vats of compulsory state factory schooling."

        And a TED Talk:
        "Gever Tulley on 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do"
        http://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids.html [ted.com]

        We've taught our kid early on to use a sharp knife to cut up vegetables and fruits, in part because US emergency medicine to deal with knife injuries is far better than US medicine to deal with chronic health problems that come from not eating enough vegetables and fruits. Related:
        http://www.drfuhrman.com/children/default.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffJAePZFg90 [youtube.com]

        Unfortunately, we listened to advice from doctors to "protect" our kid (and ourselves) from the sun and ended up with vitamin D deficiency and related health issues.
        http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions//kids_fall_short_on_vitamin_D.aspx [vitamindcouncil.org]

        We're slowly learning. There is a l

      • I would also include "cleanliness" and "antibiotics" into your rant. Your immune system develops to be strong the more dirt and filth you are exposed to, and the less antibiotics you use to help yourself out when you get sick. I was a super clean little kid, and I used to get sick all the time. My parents fed me antibiotics so I would get well. Around 15 my parents heard that antibiotics are bad to give kids too much and I stopped being made to take them. Later I stopped caring if I get dirty and clean my h
  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:55PM (#36837764) Journal
    Mom's basement is perfectly safe, and I grew up JUST FINE.
  • It's not the equipment, the sandpit, or the tether-ball. It's the other children. Now, if we could only remove the children then we'd have safe playgrounds.
    • That or the other crazy parents. I have been taken to task for letting my oldest (almost 3) play on all the equipment. He has fallen, spun around till he puked, and even gotten a little banged up, but he is no worse for wear. Hell it's not like he is jumping off the garage roof like I did when I was little, that was fun though.
    • It's not the equipment, the sandpit, or the tether-ball. It's the other children. Now, if we could only remove the children then we'd have safe playgrounds.

      I guess that depends on the playground. Some kids fear the bully but other kids fear the drug pusher. Location Location Location

  • It's mostly fear of lawsuits, and that's what's stupid. I did some pretty incredibly stupid shit as kid, but I'm glad I did them and I, nor anyone else really, ever got that seriously injured. But it teaches you to be careful. If todays kids never get to experience that, how are they supposed to be responsible adults? It's the same with women. If the girl didn't have some fun when she was a teenager, she will regret it later and try it when shes 30-40 years old, and usually married. That's why you should b
    • Re:Learning (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:57PM (#36837794)

      Fear of lawsuits isn't stupid. It's quite sensible.
      Lawsuits are stupid.

    • by ZamesC ( 611197 )
      >> It's the same with women. If the girl didn't have some fun when she was a teenager, she will regret it later and try it when shes 30-40 years old, and usually married. Interesting that you apply that only to women.... Do you: a) find it inconceivable that a man NOT screw around as a teenager or b) feel that such a man would nevertheless NOT regret it later or c) Think it's OK for a married 40 yo man to play around ??
      • Personally, as the ex husband of a woman who acted this way; I would say that it has more to do with that daughters are more likely to be sheltered due to their perceived fragility.

      • by smelch ( 1988698 )
        I believe it is a reference to the double standard. Guys are championed for their sexual prowess while girls are considered sluts when they get around. Combine it with the fact that guys don't screw around in their 30's and 40's because they never did before, they usually do it for other reasons. Most of which is ego-stroking. Globally, women are much more sexually restricted than men and the consequences of their sexual activity before marriage is much more severe.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RussR42 ( 779993 )

          I believe it is a reference to the double standard. Guys are championed for their sexual prowess while girls are considered sluts when they get around.

          Perhaps it's a reflection of the effort it takes for most guys to get laid compared to most women who can just stand up and say "Next!".

  • risk/reward (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hazel Bergeron ( 2015538 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:56PM (#36837784) Journal

    The whole risk=reward philosophy is just a way for people who are comfortable and have never needed to take any risks to push others to do so, so they can leech off them. Tell people that something will make them a man and they'll run into the middle of a battlefield.

    A society's advance is measured by risk reduction, so stuff can be achieved without a large proportion of people being harmed in the process.

    • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:59PM (#36837826)
      so stuff can be achieved without a large proportion of people being harmed in the process.

      You obviously don't work in Aperture Labs do you?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A society's advance is measured by risk reduction, so stuff can be achieved without a large proportion of people being harmed in the process.

      Says who?

      By removing the risk of physical injury in these cases, you add the risk of psychological "injuries". A child locked in an empty padded cell is perfectly safe but the adult resulting from such an upbringing will be a broken mess.

      Granted, that's an extreme. However, to some degree w're already seeing this in today's society: people ruled by abstract fears, nobody taking responsiblity, everybody blaming/sueing somebody else and so on.

    • Let them all play video games, as that's the least risky.

    • Well, I'm glad there was one pro-safety post on this thread, just to keep things interesting. But how does your argument apply to a playground?
    • Unfortunately, we don't have all of the data, nor do we have the capacity to properly put it together and determine what risks and rewards, exactly, are at stake. Perhaps it is riskier to avoid mild risks in the short term, which help train you to deal with greater risks in the long term?

      A society's advance is measured by risk reduction, so stuff can be achieved without a large proportion of people being harmed in the process.

  • In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrkyD ( 545855 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:58PM (#36837808)
    Generations are being deprived of the chance to learn to deal with the process of overcoming their fears?
    In a society whose political and media culture centers around obscuring debate by preying on fear?
    • Well said. At least they'll develop the healthy fear of being sued and the drive to sue which will come in handy for finantial survival.
  • No evidence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:59PM (#36837822)

    Like most of Tierney's articles, this one is iconoclastic but has no evidence to back it up. The "study" he cites is just one psychologist's opinion, with no actual data behind it.

    Speaking for myself, I do think I'm more well-adjusted psychologically as a result of all the dangerous stuff I did as a little kid, but given the medical bills and the permanent scars, I can't honestly say it was worth it overall.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby ( 1163751 )

      As a latchkey kid who got his 'do stupid things with friends' out of his system before his teenage years, I'd have to say that's preferable than the alternative. Playing, climbing, jumping, and biking with friends as a young kid made me into a socially and psychologically well rounded person, not to mention helping me to be well above average with most physical tasks. I'd say a few trips to the ER (actually only 1 in my case) was worth saving a lifetime of therapy to deal with social and psychological pro

      • Thing is, it's not like every kid who's coddled by a hyperprotective society ends up schizophrenic as an adult, just like not every kid who plays on a steel-bar jungle gym ends up paraplegic.

        Which is a bigger problem? I dunno, but at least we have some statistics on childhood playground injuries. The folks who argue that the psychological damage is a big deal are bringing *zero* data to the table.

    • by Chicken_Kickers ( 1062164 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @08:34PM (#36841334)

      I grew up in a traditional village in Malaysia during the early 80's. I know this is going to sound like one of those get off my lawn stories but my experiences while growing up there was very beneficial. At that time, my playground was the snake-infested semi-jungle around the village, the monitor lizard infested nearby river and the limestone quarry lake where they were blasting rocks with explosives. We kids will form roaming bands of 10 or more and play soldiers and communists (it was only 1 year after the communist insurgents surrendered), make our own "hand grenades" (got scars to prove it) out of firecracker fillings and spark plugs as detonators, even our own bamboo cannon filled with carbide. We will climb trees, slingshot monkeys, take a swim in the river and fish for tilapia and catfish in the quarry lake all the while explosives were going off nearby. On Eid days and the Chinese New Year, we will go to war with the kids from the neighbouring village, launching firecracker raids and ambushing the counterattack which will sometimes end up as fist fights. Looking back, I couldn't believe I lived that life now that I am living in a modern suburb where everything is gated and sanitised. Firecrackers are now banned in Malaysia. I look at my own two kids and see them playing video games, and the only time they can play outside is when I am supervising them out of fear of speeding cars or kidnappers (this is a real problem).

      Now, everything revolves around the nuclear family. I could do all those risky things in the village because all the adults in the village will keep an eye on you, regardless if you are their kid or not. All adults may scold or cane any child in the village if they cross the line. Complaining about this to your parents will result in another round of caning. You could drop in on your friends house and their parents will serve you food and treat you like you are their own. Now get off my lawn.

  • Yes they can (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @03:59PM (#36837832) Homepage
    At the park nearest my house they recently put in a new playground. Thankfully it still has some "unsafe" equipment. My oldest (almost 3) wanted to swing on the big swings a couple of weeks ago. So I put him on and started pushing him. Eventually he wanted me to get on the swing next to him. When we were both swinging he fell of and did a nice face plant from falling forward off the swing. He had a few little scrapes and a mouth full of sand, he cried a bit but I told him he was ok. He then went and got right back on the swing. He has also fallen off slides and rope things (a cargo net like structure) and still goes back. There is an older "safe" playground at this park but he never want to go there.
    • Re:Yes they can (Score:5, Interesting)

      by clong83 ( 1468431 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:12PM (#36838022)
      I took my one year old nephew to a playground in my neighborhood, and as soon as I set him down he crawled up to the very top of the biggest slide and flung himself down it headfirst. Nobody was there to catch him and he did a nice faceplant in the sand at the bottom. He was fine. Cried for a minute, had a bunch of sand in his nose, but then calmed down and crawled back up and did it again (with me waiting to catch him this time). From then on, he was a little bit more cautious and wouldn't go down unless I was there waiting.
  • I'm tired of these stupid arguments that our kiddies need to be overly protected.

    If a kid learns that falling off a high place hurts, he'll be less likely to do so in the future. Its how people learn. Sure I'm not saying let kids play in a forest alone or something, but playing in a proper environment is how they learn skills (+social skills), and most importantly how they can become healthy instead of spending the day on the sofa in safety playing CoD or whatever.

    • by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:05PM (#36837918) Journal

      Sure I'm not saying let kids play in a forest alone or something

      Why not?

      • If you ask my older children (the ones who are adults now), they'd probably tell you the most fun they had growing up is the three of them plus the neighborhood kids romping around the forested sides of South Mountain, looking for unexploded ordinance*, catching crayfish in the creek, and lots of stuff they still won't tell me (because the statute of limitations isn't completely gone, I think.)

        They have all their limbs, all their faculties, both their eyes (each), all their fingers and toes, and some good m

        • Yeah, it could have gone spectacularly badly

          And if it happened today, you would have had to cope not only with the loss of a child but with being hounded by the media and other parents for being so negligent. You might even face criminal charges. Look at Arlington's standards [arlingtonva.us] for when children can be unsupervised. And they think that is the minimum acceptable oversight.

    • by Mabbo ( 1337229 )
      I spent most of my youth playing in the forest with friends, often miles from the nearest adult. I pity the kids who are afraid of going into dark places alone.
    • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:16PM (#36838080) Homepage
      I take it you were never were in Boy Scouts. When I was young there was nothing better then chasing each other through the forest, often with big sticks, climbing pine trees and dropping stuff on others. Truth is kids are probably less likely to get hurt in a forest than in an urban landscape since forests tend to be squish compared to concrete and asphalt.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:02PM (#36837862)

    On a similar note, the Atlantic recently ran this article about how
    coddling children robs them of an important part of childhood. [theatlantic.com]

    When a parent says something like that they want their child to "just be a kid for one more year," that's just selfishness on their part. It isn't about letting the kid enjoy childhood, its about the parent holding their child's development back in order for the parent to take pleasure in the kid's innocence.

  • by gapagos ( 1264716 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:03PM (#36837876)

    Other than the fear of scraped knees, there's the fear of razor blades in apples, rapists among school teachers, traces of peanuts, bacteria in public places, cancer from cellphones, etc... so many irrational fairs, it seems children can only be safe if they're locked in their room.... provided that doesn't lead them to playing "violent" video games.

    What astounds me about all this, though, is that the exploding children obesity problem, which is the direct result of eating too much junk food and not promoting youth sports, NEVER seems to be "feared" among parents. How can we encourage children to be active if anything "active" thay they would think about doing (running, playing tag, climbing trees, skateboarding, etc...) is seen in a negative light?

    • Peanut allergies are a very real thing. That said, I don't agree with schools banning PB&J from the cafeteria because 1 kid has an allergy. There are other ways to handle that kind of thing, like teach the kid to stay away from peanuts.
    • Because it's easier for parents to drop their kids in front of the idiot box babysitter and berate them if they "eat too much". Else they'd have to be parenting. Imagine that!

    • by Mabbo ( 1337229 )
      It's *easy* to yell and scream and do things to "protect" a child from scraped knees, cell phones, peanuts, etc and it has the added benefit of making parents feel like they've actively done something to protect their kids. It's also easy to give children junk food rather than proper meals, and to let them sit in front of a TV instead of taking them to sports teams, or better yet, go out for a run with them. Laziness is the problem. And friend, have we got a lot of it.
    • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:21PM (#36838124) Homepage Journal

      How can we encourage children to be active if anything "active" thay they would think about doing (running, playing tag, climbing trees, skateboarding, etc...) is seen in a negative light?

      I just Google+ friended you for that statement. There are so many activities, such as the great examples you gave, that the author could rewrite this study substituting for the word 'playground.' One of the bees in my bonnet these days is how diving boards are being phased out at public swimming pools.

      It started with phasing out high-dives. Now low-dives are also an endangered animal. New public pools are built shallow with water slides instead of diving boards. From the first to the 10,000th time a kid slides down a waterslide, they've developed exactly zero skills at doing anything. It's passive entertainment. There's no sense of performance or challenge. With a diving board, there are a whole host of dynamics a child can attempt to master. Our society is taking that structure away from children in so many areas.

      If you watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics, you might have seen the Chinese divers dominate in all categories. American children might have seen that and said, "Mommy, I want to become a diver and win a gold medal at the Olympics." To which an honest parent would have to say, "Unfortunately, you live in America and aren't permitted to engage in that activity. Perhaps if we move to a dangerous country like China you'll have that option in life."


  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:03PM (#36837880)

    I work with children, and sometimes they get sent home with bruises and scraped knees just because they were playing so vigorously. Most of the children I've seen will cry for a little bit, accept a bandage, then will be eager to do the same thing again.

    Parents though, well, some of them will assume that the supervisors were negligent or abusive. Not all of them, not even many of them, since they tend to know how their kids play. But it is the ones that wrap their child in a protective coccoon that you have to be petrified of. Even those parents aren't so bad once they get to know you, to trust you, but a lot of them don't even bother.

    The unfortunate truth is that those overly protective parents count for a lot because the consequences are many. Lawsuits is the often cited one, but losing your job or your license is an even bigger and more real concern. So all of the children suffer.

    • The unfortunate truth is that those overly protective parents count for a lot because the consequences are many.

      This. And the fact that more and more we are entrusting our children to be constantly supervised by others instead of taking care of them ourselves. If it's not your kid, you're generally twice as worried about them getting hurt in your care because not only is the kid hurt, but you're also worried about the parent going off the deep-end.

    • You should see the bruises my oldest gets all on his own. If social services saw them I would probably be hauled off since they would probably think I beat the child. Last year he was running through a park and something caught his eye so he wasn't looking where he was going. He plowed right into a metal pole at a full speed run. It looked exactly like the old cartoons with arms and legs out and his body against the pole. He falls on things, falls off of things, trips, jumps, and tosses thing, he is your av
      • Social services folks are taught to look for specific types of bruises, not just a highly bruised kid. If a kid has bruises up and down their shins and scraped knees, that's an obvious active kid. Even a black eye by itself doesn't call for suspicion. The types of bruises they look for are the more subtle injuries—bruises on the insides of the arms, or fingerprint bruises (looks like—and is—the result of a digging grab.)

        It's also the attitude of the kid. I gave myself a rather spectacular

  • In Canada (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rev. DeFiLEZ ( 203323 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:06PM (#36837930) Homepage

    My 3.5 year old broke her arm at the playground, and I was very proud of her. We made the whole thing, including the hospital trip all part of the fun.

    It does seem that the playgrounds are becoming less fun, but I let my kid do all sorts of stupid things, so the way I see it, as an adult she'll be at an advantage over her peers.

  • Walking on the sidewalk is risky - you could get hit by an errant car. If you try to make anything perfectly safe, you will FAIL. The trick is to identify a reasonable amount of risk and allow that. I agree that playgrounds should have rubber padding, but I see no reason to eliminate the ability to hang from a metal bar.
  • by dr_canak ( 593415 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:07PM (#36837950)

    Came across this TED presentation last year:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids.html [ted.com]

    Definitely an interesting take on this whole issue of child safety regulations. The book (written by the presenter in the video above, Gever Tully) entitled "50 Dangerous Things (You should let your kids do)" is a really nice read.


    • I've received that book for Christmas last year, most people saw it and were like, "why would you want that?" Then started flipping through the pages intrigued and almost immediately found something they did when they were a kid, be it chemistry or whatever.

      I also have the book Free Range Kids which is also anti-coddling. Good stuff.

  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:09PM (#36837966)
    Treating kids like pussies turns them into pussies.
  • they just built a brand new playground buy us. they did add a really nice rubbery type of padding on the ground, but they have a 15ft high slide and a really cool rock wall and crazy jungle gym type things. plenty of places for kids to fall to their "death", just like when I was a kid. you know what ... that playground is always packed. Not like "geeze there are so many people I can't move" packed, but there are always people there with the kids. It's a really cool place.
  • by pyneiii ( 2109686 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:12PM (#36838020)
    "After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia..." Did anyone else picture a weird guy in a lab coat with a clipboard standing around a jungle gym?
  • Playgrounds shouldn't be risk free, but to be honest, jungle gyms were death machines. Those things probably broke more bones in the 70's and 80's than the Japanese and Italian mafia combined did.

  • I know someone is gonna mod me down for this but frankly I think we've turned into a nation of pussies. We don't allow kids to fall off bikes, break their arms, or generally be kids. Parents neurotically try to be friends to their kids instead of parents. When I was growing up my mother made us go cut the switch [wikipedia.org] that she would then use on us. We never talked back to her after that. Kids today seem ..... entitled.
  • by drolli ( 522659 )

    Try to prevent reduce any permanent damage (e.g. remove sharp edges or constructions in which you easily get caught), but give the children the possibility to fall down onto a safe ground (sand) so that they feel and learn to estimate whats going on. Its better that they learn gradually how painful something is than they learn this spontaneously at some point when they are too old.

    In that sense, i would put up many things which have a more or less save falling height. Put some higher things but make the acc

  • the supposed effects of Nanny-statism. It's the American culture of personal fear and litigiousness that produces some of the most severe anti-social effects on society. Keep the kids indoors hopped-up on gory, fear-mongering crap coming out of the TV.

  • When I was a kid if some kid fell off the monkey bars and hurt him or her self no one even though of suing the city. It was accepted that the parents knew the risks and dangers of the playground equipment and as long as an accident didn't happen because of failure to maintain the playground legal action was the last thing anyone thought of. Today, you see so many legal sharks advertising on TV. We've been brainwashed that if we have an accident it's ALWAYS someone else's fault and we HAVE to sue them.


  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:23PM (#36838162)

    I was on the swings one day with a bunch of children, then noticed that they were all swinging higher a few of them were flipping their heads back for the thrill of it. So I decided to try it, and it was scary. Especially the vertigo from flipping my head back.

    It made me realise how safe I, as an adult tend to act and how it takes all of the thrills out of life.

  • by turtle graphics ( 1083489 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:26PM (#36838204)
    The City Museum in St. Louis is a crazy, dangerous, and incredibly fun "playground" in an old industrial building. Most people who go there think it's incredibly fun. Some people who go there get seriously injured (often by exhibiting stupidity they should have learned to avoid on the playground).

    The musem's founder, Bob Cassilly, says that $1 of every $12 admission ticket goes to pay insurance, and he has posted a 'wall of shame' listing all the lawyers who have sued the museum.

    There's an excellent and relevant article in the WSJ about it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304159304575183463721620890.html?KEYWORDS=city+museum [wsj.com]

  • by gubers33 ( 1302099 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:29PM (#36838244)
    I mean when I was younger on a nice day you would be playing sports, at the pool or exploring in the woods out back. Today it's too hot and kids stay in and play video games or watch TV. If I did that when I was little my parents would have yelled at me and said go out side, it is a nice day. I mean I am not against video games, by any means. I think they are quite fun, but play them at night or when it is raining. I mean the babying of kids has happened at more than just playgrounds, look at community pools. When I was younger the community pool by my parents house had two diving boards and a slide, now it has none of the three. I fell off that slide and got a concussion, but I was back on it the next week. Many pools that once had diving boards no longer have them for insurance reasons and fear of being sued. I think that is the real issue behind this, anytime someone get a little hurt it is the people's fault who own the property, so they make so that you can't get hurt.
  • At our park.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @04:33PM (#36838286) Journal

    Our homeowner's association has a park across the street from my house. Some time back they pulled out the swing set and monkey bars and put in an attractive looking rubberized steel play structure with several platforms but kind of low to the ground and really nothing to climb on or hang from. The kids ignore it and climb the trees instead.

    Life finds a way.

    • Same thing at our schools and parks in suburban SoCal. Also gone is the high dive from all the local public pools. No one ever got hurt on the high dives mind you, but someone might think the diving board goes the other way and they would jump off the ladder, so the insidious device needed to be removed. Well, there were those kids that hurt their stomachs with bellyflops off the highdive. Red stomachs are a menace apparently.

      Shitty thing is that this affected my son tremendously. I asked him why he
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @05:02PM (#36838696) Homepage

    As a horse owner, I see how various parents approach risk. Some parents hover, constantly watching their kids ride. (One barn in Silicon Valley caters to those parents. They have bleachers where the parents watch the kids take lessons.) The kids whose parents just drop them off do better with the horses. Kids do fall off, but it's better if they have their falls when they're 10 or 12 and on a pony.

    An old friend of mine is the complete opposite of the overprotective mom. Her kids (one son, one daughter) grew up riding, and by their early teens, were competent to go off alone on horseback into the mountains. By their late teens, the kids were taking road trips of hundreds of miles on bicycles. Both kids are in their 20s now. The son is still in school, taking a year off for a startup right now. The daughter has graduated, and took a trip around the world alone, bicycling across whole countries, riding in a cattle roundup, surfing, kayaking, and coming home cheerful, uninjured, with hundreds of pictures. She works as a lifeguard (ocean rescue/climbing/EMT).

    Interestingly, these kids are cautious. When encountering something new, they tend to hang back, carefully watch others, see how it's done and what goes wrong, then do it. They don't charge in blindly. It's not about being bold. It's about being competent.

  • Children of acrobats (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @06:07PM (#36839752) Homepage

    Last weekend I went to a local art festival and they had a giant picnic table that you could climb on. Perhaps 20 feet high? You needed a ladder to get up on it. It was installed on a grass median and had no fence. As I was on top with my 2 year old, an 8-year old kid ran by me, jumped off, and vanished over the side as he went down. For a moment I thought the kid was crazy! But shortly thereafter, 2 more boys joined in, only they flipped off of the top. It was quite impressive.

    It turns out that they were 3 brothers with their dad. The father was a martial arts instructor and he was coaching his middle boy to use his ankles to cushion his landing, and telling his youngest how to roll if he falls too hard. They weren't crazy - they just saw this stuff growing up and learned to do it safely. The dad told the youngest one that he was only allowed to flip off if he could do one from a standing position. It isn't that they had no rules, they just weren't overly afraid. They had a coach, and they knew their own limitations and followed instructions.

    Amazing what a trusting, confident parent can teach an 8-year old kid. I want to know what they are like in 15 years.

  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @08:09PM (#36841132) Homepage
    In fact many of us in the older generation were opposed to "safe" playgrounds when they were first introduced. It's about time common sense is coming around again.

    Why reinvent the wheel? Humans are human and have been that way for thousands of years. We grow and mature by being challenged, even if that challenge means sometimes getting hurt (or killed).

    Now, anybody want to listen to wisdom next time?
  • by thejuiceisloose ( 2397444 ) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @08:39PM (#36841376) Homepage
    My son (23 months) loves the "big kid" playgrounds. He is a cautious child, and he definitely follows the progressive learning model in how high he climbs. However, he is adopted, and we have to worry about social workers disapproving of how we raise him, and we could get in big trouble if he got hurt, so I am one of those mothers who tends to hover around her child on the playground. It's not because I am overprotective, but because society has gotten to the point that the state will take away your child if he cuts his finger, practically. In a civilization's progress, I think sometimes we start to go overboard, and that's when society becomes corrupt and a new, younger society takes over. Look at the cycle of civilization. Ancient powerhouses are no longer around. We don't just get more civilized, we go back and forth.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer