Hunter Smith wonders at the culture of fear that has turned playgrounds into padded paddocks and at the frequent fear fads. I can’t say I agree with everything he says, but I do think it’s worth a read. A snippet:
No one wants to unnecessarily put children in harm’s way, but in our rush to protect them we sometimes gloss over what constitutes real risk. Seat belt and helmet laws are enacted because evidence suggests they decrease the likelihood of injury or death in an accident. However, similar evidence is seldom provided when playgrounds and schools are made ostensibly safer. In fact — unless there is a corn chopper* involved — these changes address unfounded fears more than actual dangers. The result is school administrators and parents patting themselves on the back for solving a problem that wasn’t there. Now they’ve created a new problem: a sterilized environment where children passively learn to fear everything.
This mindset extends well beyond the playground. Our country is plagued by a culture of fear. Politicians, talking heads, religious leaders, and bloggers all agree we are doomed, they only disagree on the means of our demise.
I know that the playground at my elementary school would not pass muster today, as no shredded tires were within miles of it and the swings had seats, not slings.
*We had one of those. I think my brother may still have it. You drop the ears of corn in the top, turn the crank, and the corn kernels come out one shoot and the stripped cob out another.