Dodgeball, tag, hide and seek, foot races — sounds like an afternoon of fun for children. But not according to the all-powerful government playing nanny and regulating the fun right out of childhood.
There’re countless stories of these activities, once considered necessities during recess, being outlawed in schools and on playgrounds around the country. In doing so, the feds ignore the wishes of parents, who generally want their children to be active and have experiences away from screens and devices and have a childhood much like their own when it was okay to skin a knee or two.
But that’s of no consequence to public schools that require students to keep their hands to themselves to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. Thus, no tag. Or schools which have banned climbing trees, or installed highly regulated playground equipment that puts safety over fun while hovering over a Downy-soft rubber surface instead of rusty metal and concrete.
Experts are speaking out on how this is changing the entire facet of a child’s existence. Philip K. Howard is a best-selling author and chairman of Common Good. He says:
“Safety, as it turns out, is only half an idea. The right question is what we are giving up to achieve safety. A playground may be designed to be accident-free, but so boring that children don’t use it. Conversely, a playground may serve its purpose perfectly, but there will be a certainty that every once in a while, a child will be hurt. Safety and risk always involve trade-offs—of resources, of efficiency, and especially in the case of children, of learning to manage risk.”
The nanny state is incapable of agreeing to disagree about standards of care. The nature of government oversight is to create a single universal standard and apply it equally everywhere. Therefore, the decision of what is safe is removed from parents and put into the hands (most often) of bureaucrats. The consequences are easy to spot. Do a quick Internet search, and you’ll come upon multiple top-ten lists of childhood activities, toys, and school fun that are today completely unacceptable.
Schacter’s right. Parents have lost the authority over their children. There’s a couple in Maryland, a Democratic haven, who have had their kids detained by Child Protective Services for simply walking home alone from a nearby park. The couple live by a “free range” philosophy and allow their children to be short distances from home without parental supervision. But the government doesn’t see it that way. They see it as child neglect and have opened a file on the family that will remain a part of their record for five years.
Schacter points to UK author Tim Gill who was a government advisor on children’s play. He states:
Activities and experiences that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought have been relabeled as troubling or dangerous, while the adults who still permit them are branded as irresponsible. At the extreme . . . society appears to have become unable to cope with any adverse outcomes whatsoever, no matter how trivial or improbable.
The federal government has declared war on fun. They’ve sanitized playgrounds, and schoolyards. Hills perfect for snow sledding are prohibited across the country. It’s up to parents to reclaim their children’s livelihood, just as Schachter concludes:
The moms and dads who pressured their representatives to change the rules are today’s warriors against Uncle Sam’s war on fun. I call them Captain Mommies and Captain Daddies and I hope this army will continue to grow and thrive.