OTHER Outrage of the Week: Funeral for a Swing Set

Hi Readers — Those clever folks at KaBoom, the playground people, have created a “virtual funeral” for the swingsets of West Virginia’s Cabell County. The sets died an unnatural death, after a painful lawsuit brought by the parents of a boy who broke his arm jumping off a swing. In a response worthy of Greek tragedy, the county responded by murdering all its swings.

They will be missed.  — L.

Pictured here: A child in hideous danger.

61 Responses

  1. A miracle appears to have occurred, and the swings are back from the dead. According to the West Virginia Record, the swings must stay. Why? State Law.

    Section 205 of West Virginia Board of Education Policy 6200 states: ““All schools housing early childhood education programs contain an adequate blacktopped play area and a field game area large enough to accommodate physical education activities. All centers housing kindergarten programs contain a segregated blacktopped area and a large grassy area with climbing equipment and swings…”

    Because all elementary schools in Cabell County contain Kindergartens, they are all required by law to have swings.

    The plan to remove them was announced on September 1, and rescinded a few days later.

  2. That is really sad, and mourning is very appropriate.

    I am wondering when they will start targeting Disney World/ Land etc?
    Or are they not dangerous because you pay entrance and most in there is fabricated and has machines so you do not have to move to much yourself? O maybe they can just afford insurance because we pay an arm and a leg for the entrance fee.

    I love a theme park as much as the next person and my 2 sons, however the park around the corner does not charge any fees and falling down and getting dirty is part of life and practice makes perfect…

  3. Pretty much everything at a park is a potential danger, from slides to monkey bars to the merry-go-round. I remember the days of riding the merry-go-rounds with the older kids pushing them so hard we’d get sick and either be flung off them or got so dizzy we puked.

    Do kids these days climb trees anymore? I did as a kid. I fell out of one or two back in the day. If a kid climbs a tree in the woods and falls out who do the parents sue? The woodland creatures? Has no one ever heard of assumed risk?

  4. I broke my arm jumping off a playing contraption when I was 11 and I still have trouble using it under certain circumstances and wish it wouldn’t have happened, because it didn’t actually ‘build character’ or make me stronger. But getting rid of the thing because I had an accident on it, would’ve been ridiculous.

  5. I broke my arm playing field hockey in high school. I think all sports should be banned from schools.

    How ridiculous!

  6. I think it’s ridiculous they tried to remove all the swings over a kid NOT USING THEM PROPERLY. I know most kids at some point or another will jump off, but that is not how it is intended for use. I think it’s ridiculous that in this society we can sue people for manufacturers NOT telling us that we aren’t supposed to use it the wrong way. In this case it wasn’t the manufacturer sued but same concept! Most people know you are supposed to sit on the swing, not jump off, not stand, one person on each swing. And I also know that kids will be kids, and do dumb stuff.. I know I did.. but it’s that kid’s fault he broke his arm! It wasn’t the school’s fault for having it if he was doing something that he wasn’t supposed to..

  7. I was on crutches for 6 weeks after severely spraining my ankle on my basement stairs. Clearly, all stairs should be eliminated.

    We used to do all sorts of completely insane things on swings as kids – and the swings on our playground were installed over asphalt. You KNEW it if you fell off one of those things. But even as kids, we knew that if we were doing something stupid and we got hurt, it was our own damn fault. As mom would say “Don’t come crying to me when you break something – I warned you.”

  8. The uniform of my childhood was always 2 sticking plasters on my knees where I fell off all sorts of swings, ropes and other home-made whatsits. I was lucky I never broke anything but had I done so it would have just been one of those things and I could not imagine my parents suing the suppliers (had there even been one) rather more telling me to be more careful next time.

  9. I’m so tired of this stuff!

    Since when does a kid jumping off a swing and injuring himself merit anything other than a stern talking-to from his parents about why he shouldn’t do that?

  10. We had a similar situation at our school. A child in K or 1st fell off the monkey bars and broke his arm. For the rest of the school year the monkey bars were wrapped in caution tape because the kids were no longer allowed to play on them (they could play on the slide and other parts o the play equipment). I *think* the tape is off now. That was 2 years ago. Kids above 1st aren’t allowed on the play equipment so I really never see it. (The older kids are not allowed only because of capacity – it’s a very small set in a very small part of the playground, so they leave it for the youngest kids. They are in a temporary school building while the new school is being built and I’m sure the playground equipment situation will improve.)

  11. My dad slipped on the ice and injured his shoulder. How can we outlaw ice?

    We can’t eliminate all danger.

  12. Oh, I WISH I had taken pics of the swings we would play on in Romania. They hung down from the swingset with a big metal pole in the middle and two seats facing out in opposite directions from it. No chains, the top of the swingset went through a hole in the metal pole like an axle would.

    I was never brave enough to try this, but I saw kids as young as 7-8 climb up on them…one kid on each side and wrap their arms around the metal pole (it was about a foot in diameter). Then they would pump their bodies to get the swing higher and higher till they would get to a certain point and hang on for dear life while the swing flipped completely over!! It was amazing to see!!

    And yeah, no seatbelts or parents chiding them. Just kids out having loads of fun on a sunny spring break day!!

    These swings are similar…and I did have lots of fun on this style…but these would only get horizontal to the ground…not flip over (I’m the one on the right). http://www.flickr.com/photos/27231120@N00/5186750049/in/set-72157601730840685/

  13. Oh, yeah…and when my kid is older and we travel back to Romania for a visit…I totally plan on letting him play on those kinds of swings. That is, if the crazy bureaucracy hasn’t gotten them outlawed even in Eastern Europe by then…which now that Romania is in the EU, you never know!!

  14. About four years ago, some city inspectors told our private community that our playground equipment had become obsolete and didn’t meet the new safety regulations. Said equipment was a metal slide (with sharp edges on the steps), old-fashioned crescent-shaped monkey bars, and a see-saw that didn’t have any bumper (the sort you bounced off when your couterpart went down really fast).
    They provided new (cool) equipment for a very reasonable price, but didn’t retire the old one. So we found a secluded spot where young teenagers hang around, and put it there, hoping that they would destroy it as efficiently as they destroy all the rest of outdoor furniture (benches, lamposts, garbage cans…).
    Well, the result is that they finally have some robust playing equipment they can fool around with (and vandalize) without breaking it. Nobody has heard of one of them being hurt yet, but probably they wouldn’t tell anyone anyway, for fear of being called a sissy…

  15. Shame on those parents for sueing the school over such a thing. If the equipment had been faulty that is one thing, but the kid jumped off! When my husbands kid brothers came to visit with his father, they would all go down to the park and see who could jump the highest and farthest .. it is what boys do!!

  16. The parks I’ve seen around here have swing sets, and monkey bars, and even–gasp!–a merry-go-round. I guess the “lawyer bug” hasn’t hit yet. Heck, earlier this year a young girl whom I didn’t know even had me play with her, helping her with the monkey bars & such, in a way I was doing with my own girl (of 3 years old)–and when her mother showed up, she wasn’t upset at me.

    Still, we have our own swing at home–a tire swing hung from a tree–and I’ve seen comparable swings at parks, and they pale in comparision. They have but a mere fraction of the “swinging room” mine does. My kids & nieces-nephews all love our tire swing because it swings so far & wide and I’m not averse to utilizing every bit of it. It is, easily, the favorite entertainment for all 5 of them.

    LRH

  17. Let’s sue the parents. They didn’t tell there kid that jumping off a swing was dangerous. If they did, let’s sue the boy for reckless endagerement of himself.

  18. If anyone wonders, that last comment was sarcasm.

    @Larry: Great to hear there are still sensible kids and parents in the wild. The girl probably knew it’s safe to talk to someone who has a child of their own. Kudos to mom and kid.

  19. It’s likely that the parents’ insurance company, not the parents themselves, initiated the lawsuit, so temper your accusations against the parents.

  20. I’m wondering what happened to the asinine mother who started all of this? Did the other mothers chastise her for ruining it for the rest of their kids? What a dummy. Kids getting hurt when playing is as common as the cold. It’s always been there, it will always be there. The best defense against injuries (and it’s almost certainly no guarantee, not much is) is informing your child the consequences. Teach them common sense and to think before they leap (literally). I’ve been lucky to not have broken any bones in my life (knock on wood), but I’ve had my share of sprains, strains, bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes and dislocations, as I’m sure all kids – past and present – have gone through. And the only thing I ever got was “see what happens when you do something your not suppose to”. I learned quick each time. lol

    Why aren’t officials more vigilant against opportunistic/holier than thou people like this? If the swing and park are safe and meet all safety regulations, that the cause of her son’s injury was pretty much self inflicted, what is there to be afraid of if she takes the park/city to court. Surely she has no case. But then again, a woman burning herself because she drove off with a full open cup of hot coffee between her legs, sues and wins, I guess anything is possible. Does anyone know if this park had a sign about rules of play, and a disclaimer of “play at your own risk”?

  21. You’re SUPPOSED to break your arm jumping off a swing! I’m ashamed that I didn’t!

  22. STOP! You could choke on that bread!

  23. I broke my arm falling out of a tree 25 years ago. The tree is still there. My folks took me to the hospital to get a cast on it and then told me to be more careful next time. They didn’t sue. They didn’t try to “protect” me from the deadly trees after that.

    I sprained my wrist jumping off a swing before. Same deal… I did it correctly the next time, the next one after that, and the next one …

    Breaking my arm and spraining my wrist did not make me stronger. However, it did make me smarter. I am so glad for the parents that I had!

  24. If the child had no health insurance, the parents may have felt they had no choice but to sue to cover medical costs.

    Everything is connected, folks.

  25. “If the child had no health insurance, the parents may have felt they had no choice but to sue to cover medical costs.”

    Well, they could have robbed a bank. It would have been about equally moral with suing someone who had no ethical liability for a kid jumping off a swing.

  26. At a point in my life when I didn’t have insurance, my daughter was playing in her Uncle’s pool and got hit in the face with a wiffle ball that he was throwing around and had to be rushed to the hospital for stiches. I did not even think of sueing or asking them to pay .. my kid, she got in the way, pop up right in front of him, my problem. I made payment arrangements with the hospital. Not having insurance is not an excuse to sue! There is no excuse for making this kind of suit except to extort money out of the school system. Stepping off my soap box now.

  27. My big brother broke my foot when I was 2 years old. I lobbied hard for a “big brother ban,” but no one else got on board.

  28. My 5-year-old son broke his finger a few weeks ago playing tag during recess at school (where, thank goodness, tag and recess still exist). He was in a bit of pain for a few days, but couldn’t have been more pleased with his cast and all the attention (phone calls to all the grandparents, etc.). His biggest annoyance has been that he can’t play tag again until the finger heals.

    We tell our kids that if you never, ever get hurt, you’re not playing hard enough because you’re too worried about the occasional fall.

  29. When my father was growing up in semi-rural wales, they had a swing hanging from a tree that projected out over a cliff. Somehow not a single parent ever demanded that the thing be taken down. Now I’m not saying that it was the *best* place for a swing,but it would sure be nice if modern parents could learn the phrase “acceptable risk”. Mind you, I don’t doubt the possibility that the insurance company issued the lawsuit, which should draw attention to the silly single-mindedness of such companies on finding someone to blame, or the possibility that the parents couldn’t afford the medical costs, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms entirely. But either way, even thinking about taking down all of the swingsets is beyond an overreation.

    PS: @EricS, the facts of the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit aren’t as black and white as everyone thinks. You can read more about it here: http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

  30. […] Hi Readers — Those clever folks at KaBoom, the playground people, have created a "virtual funeral" for the swingsets of West Virginia's Cabell County. The sets died an unnatural death, after a painful lawsuit brought by the parents of a boy who broke his arm jumping off a swing. In a response worthy of Greek tragedy, the county responded by murdering all its swings. They will be missed.  – L. Pictured here: A child in hideous danger. … Read More […]

  31. Thanks for that link spacefall. I’ve heard that there was more to it than what was going around. That was the most detailed account I’ve read to date. Chump change for McD’s. Still, even the courts found her to be at fault as well. I’ve burned my mouth and tongue from McD’s coffee before. Yes, it was really that hot. I couldn’t taste anything for a few days, and the side of my mouth was “severly sunburned”. But I never thought to sue. In my mind, coffee is hot…period. Said so right on the cup. I should have been more careful. Ever since that time, I always let the coffee cool down for a bit, and I did all my sugar and milk additions either at the restaurant. Or if going through the drive-thru, put the coffee in the…coffee cup holder, with the lid on, then parked in the lot, and then added the other stuff. Not saying she was wrong, but I would never put hot liquid between my legs. Whether it was 185 F or 155 F. This is something within my control do so. Clearly no common sense was practiced. I’m also surprised that her grandson didn’t caution her, or did the adding for her. That’s what grand kids are for.

  32. In 1997 my daughter broke her wrist falling off monkey bars at school. It never occurred to me that I should even complain to the school, much less sue. And it apparently never occurred to the school that monkey bars should be outlawed, as children continued to play on them.

    Has that much changed in less than a generation?

  33. kcs – good point. Especially since the hospital certainly would have sued them to pay the bill (which would have been much higher than the amount the insurance company would have been billed if they had insurance).

  34. My kids’ school did this too, and I am outraged! Last week my five year old BEGGED me to take him to his school playground after school because he is not allowed to use the monkey bars and he wanted to show me that he could do it the “whole long way, Mom”. I asked why he couldn’t do it at school and he stated that “Kindergarteners can’t use the monkey bars, the teacher said it was too dangerous”. This is on a brand new playground that was supposedly meant to upgrade their play from the “old dangerous one” that was there when I went to school oh so many years ago at the same place. So, I took him. And he indeed DID do the whole monkey bars. Probably because he PRACTICES at home on ours and has been since he was old enough to climb the ladder to them! While I was at the school, I noticed that the SWINGS WERE ALL GONE. So, I asked my older son and he said that they took them down because the teachers said they “might get hurt”. Unbelievable to me.

  35. What, wait. The parents sued and won $20,000?
    WTF? If I had pulled a stunt like that my parents would not have gone after the school, it would have been my backside!

    Again a prime example of parents NOT taking responsibility for their own, or children’s actions. Disgusting.

    And we wonder why 65% of our children are FAT! Can’t play on the monkey bars. Geez.

    I still have a scar under my chin from being stupid on the monkey bars when I was 8. Not a big deal, didn’t even get stitches.

    But injuring yourself is part of growing up.

    If my parents had known I played frogger with those mega 12 swing sets, they would have crapped themselves.

    I only got kicked twice, once I wasn’t paying attention, the second the boy was being a jerk. But I grabbed his leg and pulled him off the next swing around.

    Nobody sued the school.


    “When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny.”; – Thomas Jefferson

  36. Yes, banning swingsets because of a broken arm is an outrage, but what if there were a dangerous household appliance that actually killed children?

    The more interesting question is, why are firearms legal? Every year a few kids accidentally kill their little brother/neighbor/friend playing with loaded guns. Parents kill kids whether or not they are aiming at them or the spouse. Isn’t it time to have an honest conversation about real dangers?

  37. Ellen, Fire arms and swing sets are not the same thing.

    My favorite quote of all times :” Blaming guns for killing people is like blaming spoons for fat people.”

    And this isn’t the place to have this “conversation”. Are you going to ask me about Jesus next?

    The most dangerous thing for kids in the house: Ignorant parents.

  38. I fell through the swing at my grandparent’s backyard swing. It was a chain in two trees where a swing was hung from. The damn seat broke during the middle of an upswing.

    Yah, I should have sued… but these were my grandparents. I wasn’t even doing anything stupid either, just swinging. The swing had just gotten too old.

  39. I find it very sad that the roadside sign for a playground is kids on a see-saw…yet, my kids have only ever been on one twice. Once when visiting Grandma, at the Betterton Park (controlled by the town, not the county Parks and Rec) and once at a private campground. The one in Betterton was the best….the old fashion one with no bumper and really high. My kids had a blast. Too bad the bathrooms were locked or we would have stayed longer.

    My son has muscle delay issues. When he finally figured out the coordination of doing the swinging himself, he swung on the swings at the park for 3 hours straight because he was so proud of himself. (His arms hurt the next day.) All of my kids learned how to count and say the alphabet while being pushed on the swing at the park. No one should have the right to take this learning tool away from my kids and their kids.

    Yes, I know 1 kid who was hurt on the swings. I know many, many more people who have been injured in car accidents. And yes, I do appreciate recalls for things that truely can hurt or kill someone (especially things like baby cribs for babies too young to do anything to help themselves) but this, this is too much.

  40. We just kicked off a campaign to start raising funds for a new playground at our school – at the first meeting the reasons we were given for needing a new playground is that the metal slide is too dangerous because it gets hot on hot days (and there are tons of hot days in New England in the fall, winter, and spring…nevermind that the kids KNOW it gets hot so don’t touch it on hot days) and that Swings are dangerous because a swinging child might hit one walking by, or they might jump off and break their arm.

    I have my work cut out for me on this one.

  41. Did they then pave the town entirely flat and cut down any trees over five feet tall?

  42. More things happen and worse things happen in sports, lets ban all sports in america. Kids might become killers after seeing a horror movie, lets ban those. Lets ban driving for everyone just because a kid can get hit. If you can do one, u can do another.

  43. Our town redid all the parks’ playgrounds a few years ago. All the equipment is so small, anyone over 4 is not going to get any sort of physical challenge. It’s because the number 1 reason for lawsuits against the town was parents suing for kid’s being injured on the playground. Honestly, if a playground was so bad I felt I needed to sue because my child was injured- I wouldn’t allow them to play there in the first place. Falling was part of learning. Also because we fell, we leaned how to fall, or rather land, reducing injuries. On those old merry-go-rounds, kids had to work their muscles to run it and get it moving and then to hold on.
    If I did something stupid and hurt myself- my parents never sued ( and I was a real little monkey), they asked me why did I do whatever. It kills me that mygirls have never known the thrill of hanging upside down by their knees on a swinging trapeze( swingset not circus, lol). They can’t do skin the cats at school either.

  44. I broke my arm in 3rd grade doing a “penny drop” from the monkey bars while at recess. I went to the doctor, got a cast and resumed normal recess activities. I’m sure it never even crossed the school’s mind to remove the monkey bars.

    Then again, the year was 1979 or 1980. Long before the plethora of frivolous lawsuits began. Who is to blame? Judges and lawyers who allow this type of nonsense to not only continue but get worse.

    It’s important to remember these issues are all a result of the lawsuit happy world we live in.

  45. A few years back, our neighborhood fought to keep our old playground equipment. A new mom who was afraid of dangers was suggesting that we do away with it and invest in new, less dangerous equipment. We did add gravel to soften the blow when jumping off the swings, but we fought the liability demon. We kept teeter totters, monkey bars, a merry-go-round, swings and a metal (hotter than hades in the summer) slide. We are sooo blessed! People love our park, but I won’t tell you were its at, someone might come and sue us.

  46. Methinks whomever was to have been supervising the child should be sued for negligence instead of killing all the swing sets (NOT REALLY. This is stupid.).

    Remember the fabulous merry-go-rounds and the swinging gate thingies in the park? If you couldn’t swing on an actual gate, you could swing on this “gate” hung on a post. IF you were good, you could get it to go alllllll the way around…..

    DANG, do I feel sorry for my kids….

  47. The only injury I had as a kid serious enough to go to the hospital, I tripped over my own two feet and landed face first with my arm under me. I didn’t end up in a cast, but I did have to wear a sling for a while. It seems rather funny, considering all the things I did that could have injured me far worse! Yes, I jumped off of swings, too – and encouraged my own girls to do the same. I remember doing “bumps” on see saws, and crowds of us on the merry-go-round spinning until some of us got sick. The first school I went to – an old 2 room schoolhouse, with one room being used as a gym and grades K-3 in the other (gr 4 was in another town), we had swings with chains and wooden boards for seats and wooden see saws. I remember how thrilled we all were when the merry-go-round was installed.

    Years later, I moved back in the area with my own kids. The school was closed, but the playground equipment was still there, as well as a more modern play structure. My girls spent many hours playing there. We’ve moved away again, but I’ve been back in the past year, and I noticed the merry-go-round and the see saws are now gone.

    *sigh*

  48. In response to Gareth, the mandate may or may not have been rescinded, but the swings are still gone. Living adjacent to Cabell county, I drive by an elementary schools and the swings are definitely gone.

  49. When I was seven, I broke my jaw when I fell from a porch railing in the middle of flipping over it and hit the concrete slab five feet below. I am shocked–SHOCKED, I tell you!–that people still have porch railings and concrete slabs. Don’t you know how DANGEROUS those things are?

  50. Hi folks — this is Kerala Taylor from KaBOOM!, and I just want to thank you all for your fabulous comments. Our whole staff has been enjoying them. Sadly, we foresee holding funerals like these on a semi-regular basis. If you know of any beloved equipment being removed from your local playground, please let us know, and we will memorialize it on our blog. You can reach me at ktaylor@kaboom.org. In the meantime, let’s continue to fight the good fight!

  51. It’s crazy, when I was young if you fell off something and broke you arm you went to the hospital got a cast and insurance paid their portion. No one sued. Insurance companies did not bring painful lawsuits against the city/homeowner/mickey mouse.

    I swear, the lawsuits cost more money than a simple cast and a forget it – we are getting so backwards.

    I get tired of it and I am sure the municipalities are getting tired of the court cases too.

    Time to get our legal system working again and not for the insurance companies. Suits like this should be dismissed as frivilous. And that should be all.

  52. When I was about 9 years old, my horse stepped on my toe and broke it. Never mind that I was barefoot around the horses (dumb). I learned my lesson.

    When my son was about 7 or 8 years old, he jumped off the swing set at school and broke both arms and scraped up his face. He learned his lesson.

  53. I broke my arm when I was nine.

    On a beach ball.

    I was so embarrassed I didn’t tell anyone for two days (until my mum noticed I was cradling my arm). OK, so it was a large beach ball and I was somersaulting over it, but still…

  54. My son broke his arm jumping off a swing because some idiot was encouraging him to have a jumping contest with his sister.

    The idiot was me.

    Great parenting moment, right there. I never thought to sue Rainbow Play Systems. hmmmm…….

  55. @Bill When my sister was 5 or 6 she was up a tree with me and her best friend. Best friend had to go potty and scrambled down – accidentally shoving Sis. I swear we heard that wrist bone break.

    BFF Dad came running over and determined it wasn’t broken.

    We went home and said BFF pushed sis out of the tree and broke her wrist. Parents and Aunt (Mom and Aunt were medical researchers and Mom broke her own wrist before) determined it wasn’t broken

    Sis spent the weekend wrapping her wrist up declaring it broken. Monday Mom forced her to remove the sling and sent her to school.

    Where the Teacher and Nurse determined it wasn’t broken, but maybe she chipped or tore something deep down so it didn’t make a surface bruise.

    Since this nonsense had been going on for 3 days Mom took sis to the doctor. Who decided to get x-rays since the “teachers are fussing”

    They come pick me up from school and head to the hospital. I’m fussing at Sis because it never take me this long in the ER. (difference between not breathing and broken arm)

    The hospital doesn’t want to do an x-ray because the arm isn’t broken. No swelling, no bruising on a kid that to this day bruises in a stiff wind. They finally do the x-ray and come back very shamed face – the wrist was broken.

    2 weeks before the “cast” (Metal splint with ace bandage) was due to be taken off Mom calls the doc to see about getting an x-ray and removing the splint. She figured it was healed since sis went from being protective of it to smacking me upside the head with it.

    Still I hold the family record for breaking a bone and being diagnosed 32 YEARS. I broke my nose as a toddler and was diagnosed at 34 after ahead x-ray due to sinus problems.

  56. Two weeks ago my 11 year old son broke his arm (compound fracture) riding his bike to school. The injury required surgery, pins in his arm and a 5 day hospital stay.
    He was riding fast (as usual) and ran over a pine cone, lost control of the bike and flew over the handle bars. He was riding on a public sidewalk, the pine cone was from some trees that were part of the landscaping of the nearby office building.
    A few people have told me I could/should sue the owner of the office building (for wayward pine cones) or the city for not properly maintaining the sidewalk. I explained I will not sue anyone because my son has been repeatedly told to be more cautious and to adjust his speed according to sidewalk conditions. He simply doesn’t think ahead, as he is a typical impulsive 11 year old boy. (He is no longer allowed to ride his bike for at least a couple of years.)
    The upside to all this….. After my son fell and realized how bad his injury was, he sat on the sidewalk crying and calling for help for two or three minutes. A nice man stopped, sat with him, called 911 and me. Another woman stopped, got our address from our son and drove over to my house to see if I needed ride to get to my son. Living proof that even when scary, bad things happen to our kids, there are many good, kind people who will help until the parent gets there.

  57. My son broke his wrist in a hotel at a school party. It never even occurred to me to sue the hotel! The boys were bored during an awards presentation and started playing tag in a lobby outside the function room. The floor had just been cleaned, son slipped, others piled on, Voila! broken wrist.
    Guess I missed the jackpot on that one!

  58. Well, my parents could’ve made a small fortune. There were a few of us kids, and all of us quite accident prone (and very pro-climbing trees and playing sport).

    Off the top of my head we had broken bones from:
    Skating
    Blading
    Hockey
    Tree-climbing
    Monkey Bars
    Soccer
    Roof-climbing
    and falling off a bench (7 year olds should know better than to climb on benches and slip!)

    Yes, I had a few brothers who make up the bulk of these!

  59. I am currently a 17-year-old boy in Tulsa, OK. Understandably, most of my playground experiences were with the new plastic stuff. Back when I was 4 years old I often went to Whiteside Park, which had a mix of fiberglass and painted wood. I remember a boy named Joe who used to be there many times… he could swing really high on the swings which were still the old chain kind (albeit with a plastic/rubber seat; and they were only 8 or 10 feet tall). AFAIK they still have the same equipment today, including the plastic 10-12′ straight and steep slide (not too many slides are straight anymore). Another park, Darlington, had and still has all-metal equipment (though it’s a really small structure). However, LaFortune is the one I want to write about here. As late as 10 years ago they had old wooden equipment (with metal slides and bars). I remember some very high monkey bars (maybe 8 feet?), a swinging bridge (had to be pretty small… maybe 10′ long tops), and 3 slides, each bigger than the other (top one was maybe 10 feet). Back in 2000 or 2001 or so they changed to new plastic equipment. At the time I was very excited since they had changed from a relatively small structure to two large ones. In 2004 I had the opportunity to visit a playground untouched by litigation-fearful government. My great uncle was about to pass away, and the family took a 1-day trip to Aurora, MO, to see him one last time. Apparently not wanting me to see him in his poor condition, my mom found a playground and told my dad to play with me there (I was 10 at the time). That is an experience I will never forget… there were an old-style metal seesaw, a metal merry-go-round, and a very steep metal slide that had to be at least 15-20 feet tall. Being accustomed to plastic all my life, I was at first afraid of the big slide. From what I recall I eventually got on it and loved it… as well as the other stuff there. From what I see on Youtube some places still have this old-school equipment… but they are mostly in other countries (Germany pops up a lot). After reading this article I realize what has truly become of society today. This is not simply a problem with playgrounds, it extends to all aspects of daily life. The American legal system is becoming too constricting to organizations, often doling out six-figure amounts for accidents that deserve more reasonable payments in the lower four figures (case in point: Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants 1994, aka the Coffee Case). Though consumers may think they are getting a better product from the additional regulations, they are the ones who are really paying for them. Thus the governments force unintended mandatory “insurance policies” upon the people… businesses have to pay more and skimp on the product to meet regulations, and the consumer ends up paying for a few people’s troubles in the form of increased prices or inferior products. Change needs to occur in the law schools before it can occur on the playground.

    If you are older (or have relatives living in rural communities), you may remember the slides and swingsets being bigger than they are today. Many probably tell you that “you were smaller, everything was big”. In most cases they’d be right. However, in this one solitary case, I can confidently say that they are wrong and you are right. While I’ve never (as far as I can recall) seen a 12-16′ swingset, there are [hard-to-find] pictures that prove that they existed. As for the slides, just read my post. Despite the extreme difficulty in finding pictures, I am absolutely certain that they existed (and still do, though straight slides of all kinds over 8 feet are a dying species).

    One particular piece of playground equipment that intrigues me due to its unique history is the Giant Stride. Unlike most playground equipment, these were mostly removed in the 1950s, long before the Age of Litigation began circa 1984 (date chosen on purpose). Google “980 playground equipment” and read the comments on the blog to see more about this intriguing piece of equipment… sure it was probably the most dangerous piece, but it was also the most popular in places that had it. Supposedly Sunrise Park in Paris, Illinois, still has a couple (unless they were removed after the 2008 ruling that any park with one automatically loses any lawsuit related to playground injuries, regardless of the scope of the injury and regardless of what equipment actually caused the injury)

    Here’s a link: http://www.parisillinois.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=148

    If they’re still there, anyone care to go and take a video for Youtube?

    Also, just something I’m curious about. After reading many comments on blogs, I get the feeling that kids back then were more resilient than kids today. Kids back then could fall four feet without it hurting much, and eight feet without getting more than a scraped knee, maybe a sprained wrist at the worst (and often these high falls of 10′ or so were from the aforementioned Giant Strides). Kids in the old days used to jump from 10-foot barn roofs for fun, and one particular comment on another blog described kids purposely jumping down 20-30 feet to slightly inclined ground and getting little more than a sprained ankle. I don’t know how they did it… there wasn’t a secretly required Parkour class in elementary schools back then, was there?

  60. This is the fitting blog for anybody who desires to find out about this topic. You understand so much its virtually laborious to argue with you (not that I truly would need…HaHa). You undoubtedly put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, simply great!

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