Free-Range Kids Outrage of the Week: “Wear Goggles When Putting Up Posters”

As nutty as we think the restrictions on American kids and teachers are getting, England may even be a few steps ahead. In this piece from The Telegraph, teachers tell of regulations that require them to wear goggles  when putting  up  posters with “Blue-Tack” (i.e., sticky stuff). They were also issued a 5-page warning about glue sticks  (which they call the Pritt Stick). Meantime, school got rid of its “three-legged” races for the kids — too dangerous — while another got rid of its climbing equipment because the wood chips underneath weren’t the required depth.

Calling Monty Python!

Worst of all — for kids, for teachers, for anyone who wants our children to poke through the increasingly bullet-proof  bubble that is childhood — four teachers in ten said that some field trips had been “toned down or cancelled” because they just weren’t safe enough.

When you have to wear goggles to put up a poster, what is?

— Lenore

37 Responses

  1. I’m sorry that so many feel this intense pressure to place restrictions on our children’s activities – pressure from both parents and courts.

    I do very much wish to thank you for writing and sharing this blog. It is changing my life and that of my children and I suppose you could call me a convert of sorts.

    It feels like such a relief, a weight lifted from my shoulders, a permission of sorts to be the kind of parent I feel comfortable being. And that kind of parent is not one who approaches child-rearing with fear and quilt, rarely able to take a deep breath and relax. I am so weary of the excessive worry about every little thing – and the pressure, judgment and competition from other mothers to see who can cushion their child the most.

    I want to be a free range mom! The thoughtfulness behind your articles and the intelligence of your reader’s discussions have emboldened me to change it up and let loose a bit around here –

    A week ago I let my 11 year old leave the dentist’s office we were at (for his brothers appointment) to walk alone, out of my sight, across the semi-busy shopping center to the McDonald’s and buy an ice cream cone. He was so proud of himself . And I felt such shame that I had never before allowed my son to feel this accomplishment and confidence. Next time there is a dentist appointment for his brother he can stay home alone and I know he’ll be just fine.

    Yesterday I let him make a boxed mac & cheese. I wasn’t even in the same room where he was boiling water on the gas stove for the 1st time. Just hollered out my answers to any questions he had. He did it! And his grin of pride was huge.

    Also yesterday, I let my 8yo son go outside alone for the 1st time. To go to friends homes and see if anyone could play, or maybe go to the park on the corner and find some kids there to play with. He rode his bike and he stopped by often – for popsicles, to give home tours to new friends, to grab a ball, to get our puppy and participate in an impromptu 5-child dog walking trip around the neighborhood. And with the age old twin calls of hunger and twilight, he was back home, grinning and enthusiastically asking if he could do it all over again tomorrow.

    Ahh, *now* I’m breathing and it like fun and happiness.

  2. Yes, it is very, very bad in the UK, take it from me. The surprising and heartening thing about The Telegraph article is that half the teachers agree that the health and safety culture has got out of hand, surprising because most of the teachers I come in contact with seem to embrace it wholeheartedly. Whether anything changes is another matter. The English love to complain but they seldom seem to organise to change things.

  3. They would have a fit our our Field Day.
    Kids did have to wear closed toed shoes – because of fire ants and other problems. We had stations and classes rotated every 10 minutes.

    2. Giant Inflatable water slides they were 1/2 around the circuit from each other so each class got 2 10 minute turns. Students had to get permission slips signed to do these stations. We had almost 100% participation including 2 kids with broken arms and their casts wrapped in plastic bags (Hey the parents were right there and said it was ok), and 10 or so kids with various physical disabilities and 3 with feeding tubes. I’m pretty sure the only ones that didn’t participate were unable to because of their disabilities.

    3 legged raced (being replaced next year for K-2 because teachers spent most of the time trying to get the kids tied together. and they didn’t get to race much)

    Sack Race

    water station

    Popsicle station

    Golf ball station (Big gray trash cans filled with water and golf balls at the bottom. Kids had to lean over into water scoop golf balls out run back fill up smaller trash can at other side.

    Water relay (Big gray trash can filled with water, scoop water up in funnel, race back to line and fill smaller trash can)

    (Add an assistant coach in charge of hose between these two stations soaking the kids down with the hose) We did have smaller trash cans for K, PK, and Pegus (disabled students/ regular students aged 2 – 4) because they were to short to reach up into the big trash cans.

    Hip Hop relay

    Egg relay (Wooden egg not real one for $ and cleanliness reasons. )

    Dribbling relay

    Volleyball

    Slip and slide (rethinking because had to send PTO person to Walmart 2 x because slip and slide tore but this was 700+ kids in two shifts)

    Coach wants more water stuff – but we are limited by the location and number of outdoor faucets. I

  4. Yes, goggles for using fun-tack is a bit extreme. I remember when I was about six years old doing a crafts project with my grandmother and while she was out of the room accidentally stapling directly into the center of my palm. It hurt so much, but when she came back in the room I pretended nothing was wrong so she wouldn’t worry about me. I went to the bathroom and pulled the staple out and then washed it clean. You’d think if I did that at six with a stapler an adult could manage fun-tack!

    The truth is that life is dangerous and we delude ourselves if we think that there is anyway to protect ourselves from all of it. S!^t does happen and learning how to cope with it is far better than pretending we can stop it.

  5. Hit summit before I finished. If we can get some water guns donated (need about 30) we are thinking of having a water gun fight area. Don’t want to do water balloons because of the labor and impact on wildlife that we are encouraging with our butterfly garden.

  6. I think that this is just going to get worse before it ever gets better…and I think it has to do more with ours being an incredibly litigious world rather than a more dangerous one.

    One of the barriers to free range parenting is the idea that people can sue for anything and win, and it has created a generation of people who will sue if their child falls down and is injured because the wood chips weren’t deep enough, or if their child is hurt while using a stapler, or if their child is injured in a three-legged race.

    Things happen in the course of life…accidents and other things that, while preventable if you completely disallow anything that is even remotely dangerous (like using a glue stick), are just part of life.

    In the past people would have chalked it up to a life lesson and now we call it negligence and sue.

    I think we need to look at not only how we parent, but also at what kind of society we want to live in that allows this kind of excessive behavior.

  7. I clearly remember using rubber cement in art class. That stuff smelled super strong and WE ALL LIVED THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE.

  8. What the HECK are the goggles supposed to do? Prevent them from poking themselves in the eye to end the misery?

  9. Goodness, that IS ridiculous.

    I don’t know how it is in the UK, but I think one of the reasons schools get so uptight is because of the massive amount of liability they have and increase in law suits. (Or is that ALSO something hyped by the media, I wonder??) Either way, media driven or in actuality, fear of lawsuits, I think, drives some of the insane school rules more than fear of a skinned knee or even a broken arm.

  10. Oh, my bad. I missed Denise’s comment somehow. :S

  11. Kherbert’s school sounds fun! The “wrap our children in a bubble” people would completely freak at what the 6th graders at Freeport (ME) Middle School did the other day: hot air balloon rides (tethered)! Here are some quotes from the news article (my comments in brackets):

    “We were probably 100 feet high.” [with no goggles, helmets, or straps oh my!]

    “working with flames and air heated to 275 degrees” [no asbestos suits!]

    “It was very bumpy,” she said. “We have to bend our knees so they don’t get hurt.” [Not, “we have to be locked up inside so we don’t get hurt”]

    “I would say it takes about 12 kids to hold it down,” [and nobody floated away!]

    I gotta say, though I know there are plenty of “lock up the kids” type of people and schools in Maine, as a culture we typically don’t put up with such nonsense. But we’re not totally crazy – we do have an age minimum for hunting with rifles: 10.

  12. What on earth are the goggles for? Is blue-tack like Flubber, bouncing erratically and at light speed when you drop a blob on the floor? Is it some kind of James Bond thing, where the blue-tack could actually be plastic explosive (in which case the goggles would pretty much be moot)? Or maybe it’s that blue-tack gives off poisonous eye-burning fumes (in which case you should also be using a gas mask)?

    Yeesh. What’s next, hazmat suits when using a public toilet?

  13. Bwaaaahahahhaaaaaaaaaaahhhhaaa (deep breath) aaaahhahahahahhaaaaa

    Oh, that seriously made me wipe hysterical laughter tears from my eyes!

  14. Coco – no, you just need hazmat suits to use my home toilet. My kids can’t aim…

  15. I don’t recall any UK school I have worked in requiring us to wear googles to stick up posters with blue tack or staple guns.

  16. Mia, congratulations, and welcome!

  17. I can’t help contrasting the outrage today with that of the people afeered their child might eat a cupcake! “Stuff happens at school.” And most of it won’t lead to a life long disablility or – horrors, not weighing what you did on your wedding day after two kids.

  18. well…if they say that…shouldn’t they ALSO be worried about the plastic/glue/whatever that the GOGGLES have in them RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR CHILD’S EYES!
    aahhh! Heaven forbid. This stuff is just getting ridiculous!
    Sarah M

  19. Carol — for me, it’s a matter of what the parents want. Parents are the keepers of their children, not the schools, not the government. If someone thinks their kid eating a cupcake is the end of the world, to me, that is their choice. I only care when they start telling me I can’t feed MY kid a cupcake, or that I can’t let MY kid play on a playground. Or that my kid can’t use a glue stick because it is too dangerous.

    Other people’s issues are not my problem. They can be as crazy as they want. Just keep their crazy off my kids.

    I think the world would be a massively better place if they stopped trying to decide what everyone else should do. See also: Mommy Wars.

  20. Let’s just all stop having kids…then there would be no risk of death during childbirth for mother or child. It would completely eliminate risk to kids, as there wouldn’t be any and we could all breathe a sigh of relief as we sit serenely in the safety of our homes…provided the door are bolted and the windows are locked!

  21. I can’t say that I disagree with the goggles for the blue tack. If they are putting a poster up above their heads, they could get it in their eyes – just like we have safety goggles when using a circular saw for the dust particles that can get into eyes, and I wear goggles painting ceilings because tiny bits of paint do come off the roller – so I don’t see *that* as so bad…

    Now as for the rest of that… complete garbage. It’s right along the lines of all the hysteria that is sweeping the planet. 😦

  22. I learned the hard way that goggles are useful for some tasks–after a piece of sawdust cause me some eye distress (it worked its way out before I had to go to the emergency hospital). Many years later, when my younger daughter had begun living by herself, she reported doing some interior woodwork on her Chevy sedan delivery car. She let me know that she had her protective eyewear on and was using Craftsman power tools (her sister worked for Sears at the time). A few months before I retired, my company authorized us to have safety glasses made with our prescriptions in the lenses (so we don’t have to put on our reading glasses, then goggles), I still have my set, and still use them in hazardous jobs. This is one case where “better safe than sorry” does not infringe on “free ranging”. Getting children used to protective eyewear is a good thing (although having everyone put on goggles before lighting the candles on a birthday cake would be a bit much.)

  23. That’s–almost–funny.

  24. I’m very surprised. I thought the UK was cutting edge and ‘new age’ when it came to…well, everything!

  25. Mia it’s so fantastic to read about your changes and happiness.

  26. How do we get rid of the buffoons that think up such crazy restrictions?

    Years ago, I needed the wind gauge, which was atop a tall mast replacing.

    I cannot go up there without a Mast Safety Certificate, said the technician.

    How do I get one?

    It has to be inspected by someone from the Works Department.

    The man from the Works Department came around.

    I’ll just shin up there and take a look … after you’ve shown me your Mast Safety Certificate!

    (The day afterwards, it got ‘inadvertently’ knocked over by one of the fire engines!)

  27. […] Free-Range Kids Outrage of the Week: “Wear Goggles When Putting Up Posters” As nutty as we think the restrictions on American kids and teachers are getting, England may even be a few steps ahead. […] […]

  28. Gives a whole new meaning to “you’ll poke your eye out with that” when it comes from the nanny state.

  29. As the spouse of a retired teacher/school administrator and myself a retired Child Services caseworker, I would offer some perspectives on crazy school rules. Behind nearly every “you got to be kiddin’ me” rule is not necessarily (or even likely) common sense, but a lawsuit.

    Each new expensive lost lawsuit is quicky broadcast throughout the school administrative community and school boards, thus amplifying fears of financhial disaster and ruin. Usually these warnings have been run by district lawyers and school liability insurance providers who send out urgent warnings boardering on threats.

    We live in a society where many people have come to believe “there are no accidents” and “s…t does not just happen.” Thus they believe someone, somewhere must have been negligent and thus responsible, especially if they also happen to have “deep pockets.” This all contrubutes greatly to the nanny state complaints about the increasing restrictions that drive us all nuts. Rules that actually undermine and get in the way of what was once considered normal child development issues and stages.

    I love the free range movement’s goals, but don’t expect school districts or other public service providers to be supportive as they might wish to be…they literaly can’t afford it. My observation is that the hover parents tend to be on juries, run for school boards, and make up a not insignificant number of judges. Sorry to be a bit of a wet blanket, but this is the reality that I have seen out there. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

  30. Working in a School I know Headteachers and Teachers Know very little about Health and Safety.
    Alot of Headteachers and Teachers make their own rules and regulations up because of their lack of Knowledge in the Subject.
    This leads to many Myths and Untruths.
    If you ever want to know the truth about Health and Safety visit the HSE website and read about the H&S Myths and the recent Teachernet Survey 2009.
    It is frightening how little School Staff know about Health and Safety and Statutory Legislation.
    Its Our Childrens Lives in Untrained Hands!

  31. “Getting children used to protective eyewear is a good thing.”

    Sure it is – in situations where protective eyewear is actually REQUIRED.

    Making somebody wear safety goggles to apply Blu-Tac* is like making them wear a helmet to walk down the street – it’s not at all necessary, and serves only to make the wearer a: look ridiculous, and b: look upon helmets (or protective eyewear) as stupid, or a waste of time.

    *Have you ever used the stuff? The smallest piece you could possibly end up with would be several orders of magnitude larger than a speck of sawdust. And that’s assuming you’re going to have small bits randomly breaking off and getting in your eye. Which you’re not.

  32. OK–I’m not familiar with Blu-Tac, so I would suppose that people who use it can judge whether goggles are necessary or should even be optional. I may be a bit sensitive on this subject because the son of a co-worker was blinded in one eye when another kid shot off a paint-ball gun before he got his goggles on.

  33. These crazy school rules come from somewhere- more often than not these days a lawsuit or threat of one. As a nation we need to frown upon lawsuit slap happy parents and people in general and stop “rewarding” every tom, dick, and harry that files one. Then schools can lighten up and live a little…

  34. Well, Bob, we’re comparing apples and oranges here. How you could relate ANY form of poster-hanging activity (which is rarely on a ceiling anyway) to paintball is beyond me, although it’s nice that you realize you’re a little trigger-happy on that issue. We all have that ONE issue, I guess.

  35. Just another example of big brother is watching. Next will be a tax on anything deemed hazardous to your health.

  36. Now putting up posters using a lab stool and a kids chair is dangerous, when you step back from the stool on to the back of the chair! But only porters are trained to use the step ladder so no one else can borrow it!

  37. Hit summit before I finished. If we can get some water guns donated (need about 30) we are thinking of having a water gun fight area. Don’t want to do water balloons because of the labor and impact on wildlife that we are encouraging with our butterfly garden.

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