CAUTION: Sand Presents Uneven Surface!

Enjoy this. Lots of great signs warning of the obvious gathered by a group called The Manifesto Club and reprinted in England’s Daily Mail. These signs remind us that Britian is in some ways more advanced than the U.S. when it comes to worrying about non-worrisome things.

Remember: It is  England that requires anyone who wants to work with children — be it as a scout master, teacher or even class parent — to first get an affidavit from the police stating that he or she is not a convicted pedophile. Because, of course, everyone is unspeakably evil until proven otherwise.  Nice way to think of your society.

Meantime, a shout out to the Virtual Linguist for sending along the Daily Mail story. Thanks! — Lenore

Grave concerns: You're taking your life in your hands walking through this cemetery in Tooting, LondonGrave concerns: You’re taking your life in your hands walking through this cemetery in Tooting, London
Benchmark of the bleedin' obvious:This wooden seat in London could get wet - if it rains

35 Responses

  1. There are some nice instructions on how to use a toilet in Antwerp:

    http://aarondamommio.blogspot.com/2009/03/heres-what-toilet-instructions-look.html

  2. The Caution! Seat may become wet! sign made me snort coffee up my nose. Thanks a lot, Lenore!

    HOWEVER, the ‘wasps nesting’ sign could be important for people with severe sting allergies, and the one of the falls trail is important because hey, hiking certain places isn’t for the inexperienced and falling down a steep trail or waterfall IS a real hazard.

  3. We are in REAL danger of forgetting how to look out for ourselves!

  4. I once had a sun screen for my car windshield that told me not to drive with it in place, because an accident might result.

  5. Check your cell phone’s user manual. There’s a good chance there’s a warning not to dry it in a microwave.

    Sand? An uneven surface? I would NEVER have known!!!!!!!

  6. Actually, pretty much anywhere in North America that you get a child-related job, you have to have a police record check!

    I am all for free-ranging my kids, but when I leave them alone with an adult, I want to know that they are not spending time with a criminal. Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.

  7. It’s comforting to know that it’s not only America that is being dumbed down, eh?
    :-\

    I know it seems ridiculous to have some of the warning signs that we do, but after a year of reading Not Always Right, a blog about the idiocy of customers, I can well understand that some businesses and governments need to have these kinds of warnings.

    Here’s a good example of what I mean.

  8. Lisa,

    I have to disagree with you. I think part of the foundation of free range kids is that most people are good, which is true.

    Rather than have my children be suspicious of everyone, I want them to have the confidence (that comes from being independent) to deal with an uncomfortable or inappropriate situation.

    When we give everyone around kids (not just teachers, but volunteers) background checks, we reinforce the paranoia that makes our children afraid of the world. While I wouldn’t want my children around a person who is violent or a pedophile, I don’t think someone who got a DUI ten years ago or a ticket for peeing on a tree in college is a threat to my children.

    Instead of legislating everything, parents need to use common sense and think for themselves- while teaching their children to do the same!

  9. […] Daily Mail has a pictorial feature on superfluous warning signs (via Free-Range Kids). Another peril: “uneven surfaces” on beach […]

  10. oh my I can’t bear it. The country is going mad. Mind you the Daily Mail does go over board at times.
    Re CRB checks here, the problem is that you only know who has a record not who has got away with it because they have never been caught.
    But does that mean we stick our children in a bubble and leave them there until they are grown ups, and how then do all these inexperienced children/nearly grown ups cope. Does the “you are now agrown up and will cope with the world”
    wave her wand?

  11. Should read of course Does the “you are now agrown up and will cope with the world”
    fairy wave her wand? Too much rushing to get it sent.

  12. Fledgling free-ranger here! Was hoping you ladies and gents could give me a bit of a confidence boost. My 4 year old son was invited to a birthday party at a Chuck E Cheese across town. He would be travelling there and back with the birthday kid’s mom and her kids (our neighbors) and although there will be a lot of grownups and kids in attendance, he only knows our neighbors. They won’t be back until 9:30 pm, well past his bedtime. So, for him, this is HUGE!

    My first instinct was to say no – what if he becomes homesick? What if he is unable to cope with the social demands of this large group of strangers? What if he is exposed to undesirable behaviours and ideas through these strange kids and adults? What if he has a post-bedtime meltdown (the most likely possibility). And I was shocked that he was invited by himself. (Not typical in my aquaintance, in fact this is the first time I’ve run into it, though I certainly went to parties by myself as a kid) It actually took about 20 minutes of conversation with my neighbor before I realized she was assuming he’d travel with her and her kids.

    Then I remembered how impressed I was with Lenore’s son and his subway ride, and how I want to be able to parent with a degree of confidence and fearlessness. So I said yes, he could go.

    I’m not crazy, right? 4 years old is not too young to go to a 4 hour Chuck E Cheese party without one’s parents?

  13. Jen: One of the big problems with the proliferation of super-obvious warning messages is that they can create a “warning fatigue” that causes people to gloss over warnings that might not be so obvious, like the ones you mention.

    Wren: I read a story a few years back about a volunteer youth football coach, one of the best in his community, who was forced out because his town adopted an insurance-driven policy forbidding anyone who ever had any drug-related conviction, no matter how long ago or how minor, from working with youth; he’d gotten a $50 ticket for pot possession 25 years ago when he was in college.

    Wendy: Indeed, the overwhelming majority of people convicted of child sexual abuse had clean records at the time they committed the offenses.

  14. Kate, I’d say no to the party, and not from a lack of trust of the parents, but 9:30 is way too late for any 4 year old.

    As to the signs, no warning about zombies on the cemetary sign?

  15. Kate: I’m with Anne; four hours is a LONG time for a 4 year old to do anything and if it’s going to be quite a while past bedtime you might consider going to pick him up say, 2 hours in and bring him home? That way he gets to go and do the independant thing with his friends, but you get to do the grown up thing by taking care of your son and making sure he doesn’t burn out and meltdown all over the party.

  16. I’m with previous posters saying it’s a pretty long, late evening for the 4-yo but (as long as you’re generally okay w/ Chuck E Cheese, which I detest personally) you could easily find a way for him to be allowed to go.

  17. Thanks for the feedback! I like Jen’s suggestion, and I think I’ll play it by ear – if he naps in the late afternoon then he’ll be happy for much longer. I’ve talked to the mom too (she has a 1 yr old, a 5 yr old and the birthday boy, who will be 8) and there’s a lot of littler kids coming to the party – cousins and the like – so she says there’s a possibility that it will end earlier anyway.

  18. HAHA, I think my kids would think someone getting a ticket for peeing on a tree was hilarious (and they might be more discreet about it).

    I get that your point is likely that our society makes us fearful that everyone is a pedophile or axe-murderer and there are relatively few of them in comparison to good people.

    I still want to know who is working with my kids… regardless of their police record check.

    Don’t you?

  19. I would go along to a 4-hour party for with a 4 year old, in case he needed to come home early. Mine are now 5 and 6 and manage fine at parties by themselves, but I remember when they were four, and they could easily get overtired and upset at a long party, especially one that goes until 9:30.

    I don’t think this is a free-range issue for me. I’m all for kids doing things on their own, and I’m sure the other parents would be fine. But you want the kid to have fun, and if he’s stuck at a party long “past his stop” as we say in our family, that’s not as likely.

    That said, you know what your kid is like. Some kids would probably be fine.

  20. Yeah, I would go along to the party, and if that was not welcomed by the parents (but who would object if you paid your own admission? it would be more adults to help with a group of overexcited four year olds) then I’d say no. Four is too young for a new, wild and crazy environment like that without a parent. I wouldn’t be worried about some terrible disaster happening, but he could get scared, or stressed out, or overtired, or what have you.

    As for the lateness, it wouldn’t be good to have a four year old out until 9:30 regularly, but I had no problem doing it rarely for “special occasions” when mine were that age. But another advantage of going along would be that you could make polite apologies and leave if he really did not seem to be handling the late hours well.

    Personally, the fact that it’s Chuck E. Cheese’s would be enough for me to say no (I let my kids go there occasionally but sometimes I decided they just didn’t need that kind of overstimulation) but that’s just me.

  21. Jennifer, in our family the expression is “his meter is expired.” 🙂

  22. Seeing these signs makes me wonder who was stupid and greedy enough to file a lawsuit big enough to have them make a sign warning people of what should be common sense.

  23. We recently bought a 9’x9′ canopy to take on our camping trips. There was a large warning on the carrying case: “Do not leave children unattended in the canopy.” Geez. The manufacture shouldn’t have much to worry about anyway — what kid wants to sit under a canopy when she can run around in the woods?

  24. As someone who many years ago wrote these kinds of instructions for a toy company, I can assure my fellow F-R readers that for every seemingly insane line of copy, there is a consumer lawsuit in the background. Over the last 25 years or so, these suits as a “get-rich” scheme have proliferated, and since companies have settled for tens of thousands of dollars even for the most seemingly frivolous lawsuits, what seems like the most basic common sense to all of us is protection against similar lawsuits.

    Deathless lines I have penned (without even consideration for a Pulitzer) include, “The top bar of the Gym-Dandy swingset is not to be used as a balance beam.” “If the Disney Busy Poppin’ Pals doors do not open, gently use a toothpick to move the catch. Do not use a hammer or other tool to hit the toy.” And, my favorite, “Secure the Sesame Street mobile to the crib or playpen as directed with the enclosed hardware. Failure to attach the mobile risks detachment.”

    Each of these lines were written by lawyers for a specific purpose. Remember, most insulated take-out coffee cups today include the phrase, “Caution, the beverage inside may be hot.”

    It’s a sign of the times.

  25. In defense of my country, we got the idea of suing someone else for any little thing that goes wrong from the Americans. Sadly too many Brits want to be like the “cool” Americans and we end up with stuff like this.

    I would agree that the wasp nest and the hiking sign are not so ridiculous, especially the hiking one. I have a friend who works for mountain rescue and they spend a lot of time rescuing people who are inexperienced and take paths unsuitable for their level of experience/footwear they’ve chosen to wear.

    I find the need for a CRB check every time I start a new volunteer position with children annoying but it is just one short form, it’s free for volunteers and I think many parents these days wouldn’t put their kids in clubs staffed by volunteers if the volunteers weren’t background checked. I had to do a much lengthier background check plus an interview and provide references when I volunteered at a children’s hospital in the US and volunteers were never left alone with the kids anyway. Plus isn’t it in the US that parents need background checks to volunteer in their kids classes?

  26. As a Free Range parent AND someone who works as a Forest School Leader, Environmental Playworker and Educator doing so called “risky” stuff in woods with children…. I am all in favour of CRB checks

    CRBs don’t just pick up on paedophiles, they pick up on any Criminal Record via a Home Office Bureau check…( hence CRB)

    As a parent I am reassuered to know that there is some form of checking of those with whom I trust my child to.

    and as a provider of such care I am pleased to be able to reassure parents , as well…that I have no unspent or child abuse convictions.

    A CRB allows those with “spent” convictions ( usually after 5 years from release or some other time limit) to get a CRB check whick is OK… ALTHOUGH those convicted of any child abuse issues don’t get passed EVER ..and it isn’t JUST convictions for that, there is some scope for ” well founded suspicion” by the police on child abuse issues I believe…

    So the CRB system, whilst it has flaws..actually is quite a good idea…

    Lets be in favour of free ranging ( I know *I* am!)

    BUT not all burocracy IS mad..

    ( the way it is actually implements the CRB system……now THATS a different matter and one best not to get me started on!)

  27. Oh, I am in the UK, btw…

  28. How is the background check offensive? A background check only reflects the fact that there are people who are a known danger to children. It reflects the fact that some of these people have been serial offenders, and gotten away with it because there were no background checks required. I’m sure some seemed like real nice people.

    You make it sound like you think that getting rid of mandatory background checks would be a good tradeoff — a little less hassle and more “free rangey” spirit on the one hand, at the expense of a few more kids being abused.

  29. A few years ago a man walked into a neighboring school and wanted to volunteer. Something about him set off the hinky meter with the office staff. They gave him the paperwork to fill out and called the cops from another room.

    Turns out they were right. He was an offender, just released, and one of his victims was a child at the school. When they wouldn’t let him go instantly into the school, he left and went to another school. A District wide e-mail with the guy’s mug shot was sent out. The 2nd school called the cops and tried to delay him – he left and went to a 3rd school. 3 different jurisdictions are now involved along with state DPS. (Two cities merge together and the county helping out). The guy was caught at the 4th or 5th school.

    News Headline: KNOWN OFFENDER ALLOWED TO VOLUNTEER AT MULTIPLE LOCAL SCHOOLS.

    They justified it by saying we let him fill out paperwork to volunteer even when the staff knew who he was. Staff was obeying law enforcement when they told us to delay him.

    So now we have instantaneous background checks via DL’s – and people complain about that. We can’t win for losing. Those background checks have kept out multiple offenders – most of them PARENTS of students. Not for small offenses (we are told the offense) but violent crimes against people.

    One of the things people say on this blog is kids are safe walking home, playing in the park because stranger danger isn’t the real danger.

    We know the real danger is from people kids know, who are put in authority over them – teachers, ministers/priests, scout leaders, coaches, and family members. Do you blame organizations for trying to do something to change this, for trying to be transparent? Especially in the US where lawsuits can easily bankrupt an organization.

  30. “So now we have instantaneous background checks via DL’s – and people complain about that. We can’t win for losing. Those background checks have kept out multiple offenders – most of them PARENTS of students. Not for small offenses (we are told the offense) but violent crimes against people.”

    I had a background check when I volunteered at my kid’s school. Not instant, but I just had to fill out a simple form and show my DL to the person at the front desk when I turned it in, and a few days later I was approved.

    At the time I was glad they did it, for just the reasons you said. And I assume that for every case of someone being turned away because of something that turns up in the bg check, others simply have the common sense not to even try because they know what the bg check will turn up. Good. Well worth the trivial inconvenience. Or so I thought.

    But oh, my woeful ignorance. I didn’t know I should have been offended until the free rangers told me so. Two minutes of my life that I’ll never get back! Why can’t they just assume that everyone is okay until they actually hurt a kid, and then insist that if they want to hurt ANOTHER kid they must go to a different school to do it?

  31. If idiots who refuse to accept the risks and responsibility of their own actions would stop suing for every little thing, signs like these wouldn’t be popping up everywhere.

  32. I’m not offended by the background checks, but I DO think we’ve gone overboard with it. Examples:

    An elementary school teacher (obviously needs a background check for work) needing a second one to work at a summer camp.

    A POLICE OFFICER needing a background check to volunteer at his kid’s school.

    I personally have had THREE such checks done in last year:
    one to volunteer at school
    one to coach my kid’s soccer team and to be on the board of directors for the club
    one as a member of Parents Without Partners.

    (I’m no longer in PWP, so I’m down to two this year). Honestly, it makes me question the fees for activities… it’s not free to run these checks, and we’re apparantly unconcerned about the duplication of effort.

    If I had to have ONE background check done, and provide a copy (or a signed letter from the other organization) to any groups I tried to volunteer for later, I’d understand that. But I do NOT see the need for 2 or more checks being run on the same person.

  33. Oh.goodness.sake.
    Sarah M

  34. UHg. Our beloved small neighborhood playground is being razed….the city already took out the merry go round. Remember those in the 70’s? How dizzy we all got? Well we had one and they removed it last year…the last one in Boulder! Now they are doing one of these high tech play grounds with the friggin rubber cushion for the entire ground surface…a couple million they are spending so kids don’t get sand in their eyes, scrape a knee or build a sand castle.

  35. Yes THANK YOU

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: