You Must be 7 to Play on the Jungle Gym

Hi Readers! Yes, a little more perspective:

Dear Free-Range Kids: Less than 24 hours ago I was in Honduras on a service trip.  We did a medical clinic in a small rural community, and were passing out vitamins and Tylenol to many of the residents.  We were giving vitamins to a young girl who looked about 10 but said she was 14.  Making small talk, we asked her if she liked school.  She said she had stopped going to school when her mother died so she could take care of her brothers and sisters.  She lived in a community with no electricity, no running water.  She didn’t want the vitamins for herself, she wanted them for her younger siblings.

The residence we stayed at was connected to an orphanage that was home to almost 30 children, who are 7 months to nearly 18 years old.  We visited often, and repeatedly watched the younger children being cared for and comforted by children that were about 7 and older.

While it is an unbelievable shame that these children have the burden of caring for the little ones, there is no doubt they are capable if it is required.  And they are capable even in the absence of 911, CPR certifications, First Aid kits, cell phones, safety helmets, electricity, running water, education, or any of the numerous conveniences or precautionary measures we have available here.

Meantime, my 4-year-old is not allowed to go on the monkey bars at day care because they have a facility rule that you have to be 7 to use them.  He uses them all the time when we go to the playground, and doesn’t understand why he can’t do it at day care, too.  Me neither. The world is really perplexing. — Terry Bartick

54 Responses

  1. We live in a certification culture where you have to have a piece of paper proving your ability to do something, or they won’t let you do it, even if you know how.

  2. What an insightful perspective. The world today does seemed warped in what we deem to be important and what we deem to be frivolous.

    I’m glad your 4 year old is loving the monkey bars…..in his own time!

  3. I was not a Honduran orphan, but I was running a neighborhood “day camp” at 8 (my aunt could see I was bored) and babysitting for money, for other people’s kids, by the time I was 10. Just kills me the way kids aren’t allowed to do stuff anymore …

  4. Wow I’m glad my daughter’s preschool wasn’t so picky about how the kids played on the playground. No monkey bars, but some good, adequately challenging equipment.

  5. I am so glad that we live in a country where supervision by complete strangers and the permission of faceless government entities is more important than anything a parent may allow.

  6. Also, shouldn’t day care be about the development of children? Not allowing them to do something for fear they will get hurt doesn’t allow them to learn. Unfortunately, I was a kid not allowed to fall. Today I am an adult who doesn’t know how not to get hurt.

    But, getting back to day care…this shows that the priority is not our kids…it’s law-suit avoidance that is key in this policy.

  7. I have a strict rule about the monkey bars. If they can’t do it by themselves, they can’t do it. I will not lift them up, or hold their feet, etc. If they can do it themselves, then obviously they are capable of doing it. Worked for my kids, who could both do the monkey bars by the age of five.

  8. Truly insane! Our kids go/went to a kindergarten where tree climbing is pretty well compulsory from the time they start, at around age three. The older ones have to teach at least one younger one how to do it safely. How’s that for a contrast?! I also have the rule that if they can do it themselves, they can do it. We have no walls on our trampoline, for example, but no steps either. If you can climb on to it, you’re good to go.

  9. My husband is Honduran and we took our kids (then, ages 9 months and 4 years) to visit his family’s village in the mountains of Honduras, also with no electricity. For 5 months – I was told by many people that it would be unsafe!! Imagine that – just because we would be so far from the nearest clinic. In fact, my son (the younger of my kids) did get thrush, so we brought him into town and they cured him pretty quickly. The Honduran kids are also better at sharing – my children returned to the States voluntarily sharing their toys with other children. And yes, as an exhausted mom, it was awesome having the older kids helping out with the little ones.

  10. So why is there such a stark difference and why are we handicapping our kids so badly? Why do parents let this happen with nary a peep?

    Is it because we have put the government in charge of too many things that government is not intended to do – such as provide and regulate child care, “physical education,” discipline, etc.?

  11. We have those rules at daycre too, most of the time they are CYA rules intended to keep us from fielding lawsuits, due to one or two accidents throughout a span of 25 years. Sad that one incident in 25 keeps our kids from something perfectly fine, while others the same ages, worlds away have cares much bigger than how outraged Mom is that they sprained their wrist on the monkey bars, so she’ll sue the daycare out of business. (Assuming Mom even is enraged) The world is confusing, and it makes no sense. An overwhelming amount of Parents in the US have their heads firmly in the sand, fingers in their ears saying lalalalala when common sense is spoken.

  12. It’s odd to me that people leap from a daycare to “faceless strangers” (@bmj2k) and government (@bmj2k, SKL). My son’s daycare is run by people known to me (who have faces!) and is private. I’d guess the author of this post, Terry Bartick’s may well be, also (there aren’t, after all, many public, i.e., government-run or funded daycares in the US).

    That this is true (the daycare we use is private and run by ordinary people who are members of our community and known to us) doesn’t mean it has no unreasonable rules. I personally am pretty lucky in that regard (the lack of unreasonable rules), actually, but I’m also blessed with a community that offers a large number of good quality daycares, something that is far from certain in the U.S.

  13. Alexicographer, what I’m trying to understand is, why is the government regulating (private as well as public) daycares – leading to unreasonable rules for both? Did this stem from the fact that there are government-run daycares which need policies? Where does the government get the expertise necessary to develop and implement said rules? How did parents get the idea that this was the governmet’s responsibility? Why do daycare operators accept this? Seriously, is the Honduran government issuing an official handwashing schedule for kindergartens? Why do we expect ours to?

  14. We are an extremely litigious society – we solve problems by suing someone. I think that’s why our society has become pathologically preoccupied with safety issues. To avoid a lawsuit, a product, person or organization must have expressly prohibited all potentially dangerous activities involving them, no matter how unlikely. It’s not that Americans are such wusses but rather we’re all terrified of being sued!

  15. Our school got rid of all the monkey bars because they are “dangerous” now they are wondering why the kids can’t pass the state physical fitness test for the flexed arm hang. Lovely bureaucracy.

  16. Surprised as I am that I’m able to recall this, my primary school got rid of the monkey bars on the playground too. It was a very small school (30-something kids?), but two kids broke their arms falling off them in a few-year period. Maybe monkey bars are dangerous?

    I’m all for kids being allowed to hurt themselves, but that stops short of breaking a bone. Ideally we want the world to be safe enough that kids won’t suffer any major injuries,), but not so safe that the usual, manageable assortment of moderate gashes, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains etc. aren’t on the menu.

    (I say this because breaking a bone in your youth means you’ll really pay for it once you get old. This is not a desirable scenario.)

  17. What magically gives an inexperienced child the ability to do the monkey bars when he turns 7? What prevents him from doing them in the 6 years prior? Amazing that 7-year-olds need no practice….. ugh…

  18. Well, 6 is obviously way too young and 8 much too old, right? [eyeroll emoticon]

  19. I was just having a conversation last night about how when I was in elementary school we would bring our sleds to school in the winter. At recess (which we had TWICE a day – once for 30 minutes and once for 45 minutes) we would change (by ourselves) into snow gear and sled on a HUGE hill on school grounds. I do remember one child needing stitches and one breaking his arm (in a six year period)…we kept right on sledding. No way would that be allowed today….nobody sued the school. (when I visit my mom I still take my kids to that hill)

    On another note, my brother got stuck under a chain link fence in day care. It had to be cut off around him and he also go a bunch of stitches in his leg. I remember my step-dad comforting the day care provider saying “accidents happen”..

    As for breaking bones. I broke my arm. Not on the monkey bars….in a sandbox. To be fair, I dragged a cinder block in so I could dig under it and make a “really strong tunnel”. I was 4. best engineering lesson ever.

  20. My children’s elementary school installed new playground equipment in September. Once it was ready, the staff discovered two pieces of equipment were too “dangerous” for the children to use — the tire swing (of the horizontal tire, 3 chain attachment variety — it swung “too high”) and the monkey bars (too far above the ground).
    The children were forbidden to use them, and they were roped off with yellow tape.

  21. @SKL: In the New York State, daycare centers do have to be gov’t certified to operate, and fall under a lot of restrictions. I once spoke with a director for a special needs preschool who told me that that is the reason why most preschools and childwatch rooms in gyms will only have the kids for 2.5 hours. If they have the kids for 3 consecutive hours or more, they are considered by the state to be day care centers and subject to all sorts of licensing requirements and restrictions as to how they operate.

  22. I don’t think we can chalk it all up to the fear of being sued. They have insurance and incorporation to deal with the really crazy stuff. And if lawsuits were really the driving force, we wouldn’t need regulations at all, would we?

    When my sister was 4 and I was her primary caregiver (college student with night classes), I used to take her to the playground all the time and she would so stuff on the jungle gyms that 12-year-olds were afraid to do. Height was definitely not an issue – she would sit on a high bar and swing/flip backwards and then grab onto the lower bars to climb down. She never got hurt during those times. The only time she hurt herself on the playground was in KG when she did something I’d told her not to do – swing forward in a spot where the next bar was too close. She slammed her cheek/saliva gland and it swelled up like a baseball. My comment was that she should have known better; she never did something dumb like that again (and nobody sued or yelled at her teacher). The only time my parents got involved with playground mishaps was when a boy (repeat offender / bully) was kicking my sister’s face in in 3rd grade. My dad didn’t like the explanation that “there’s nothing we can do.”

  23. @Erin how did the yellow tape work for them. They put it up on our “Blue Toy” when the tall slide was removed for repairs (Some nice neighbor took a sledge hammer to it). It lasted a couple of hours before the kids tore it down and were jumping from the platform. Slide is back, have to see how long it last.

  24. I’ve talked to my daycare provider about some of their stupid rules, and at least here, 99% of them come from the state. The newest one, which was only a “recommendation” and they’re refusing to follow is that apparently they have artwork papers too close to each other on the wall. They were told to take them down so the place doesn’t go up like a matchbook in case of a fire. My response to her (which was hers as well), is that stuff like that can’t just spontaneously combust – it needs a fire source so it’s pretty much a non-issue unless somebody holds a match to the papers.

    In any case, she refused to follow this because it would mean having stark, bare walls…in a preschool/daycare!

  25. @SKL, I think you have a point that it is fear based in general and not just fear of being sued, but often the lawsuit is still there in the back of people’s rules. What I am thinking of is the whole weird thing that my daughter can’t bike alone to school. I understand right now she is only 6 but I think by next year she would be ready or sooner if she had an older friend to go with. And I’ve been told the rule of not letting kids bike or walk to school IS because of fear of lawsuit.

    (and yes, kids do walk to school in Honduras with no adults, just the neighborhood kids)

  26. Does anyone think it might have something to do with “public health” policies? I mean, like vaccination requirements, they think they will have fewer parent sick days / free clinic visits if 3-year-olds wash their hands 90 times per day and stay within 6 inches of the ground?

    I am seriously trying to understand why this is such an overriding public interest that states must make laws / regulations about these details.

  27. The United State has more attorneys per capita than any other nation on the face of the earth.

    Which is why we have more prisoners than any other nation on the face of the earth, and why our children are bubble wrapped ticking lawsuit time bombs.

  28. This has been going on in lesser fortunate countries for decades. My father was only 11 when both his parents passed away, and on top of going to school and working (walking long distances to school and work with only beat up sandals), he took care of his brother and 2 sisters. Children has always been resilient, and just like humans (not adults or children, but humans as a species), we all learn to adapt. If the situation calls for learning to fend for yourself, you will. But if those situations never occur, or they are never taught, one never learns. This has always been the case and will always be. Such is our species way.

    The difference, between North America and a place like Honduras, is that we are spoiled. We have learned to take things for granted. We’ve learned to capitalize on opportunities, like suing. Now some have mentioned this is more than just making a quick buck. And that is true, but the majority of it is making a quick buck. People just use their fears to justify their claims. Sure institutions and facilities have insurance for lawsuits due to mishap. But even then, these places aren’t in the clear. When they have to make a claim because of a law suite. They are still paying for it. Just like car insurance, you make claims, your premium goes up. The bigger the claim, the bigger the premium. And no place wants to be spending more money. Like I keep saying, many of the things heli-parents do to shelter their children, is mostly about them feeling good about themselves, than benefiting the child. If their mind was on the physical, mental and emotional well being of the their children, they wouldn’t be so paranoid and sheltering. It’s selfish.

  29. This week a kindergartener in our area died playing with a rope on a slide in a friend’s backyard. Accidentally strangled. Not to contradict anything on this website, but horrible, tragic playground accidents do happen. (Not saying you thus must make no-monkey-bars rules, but little kids DO get hurt on playgrounds and sometimes even fatally!)

    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/03/15/boys-death-involved-playing-with-rope-on-slide.html

  30. Age 4 is when the kids most want to do the monkey bars. If you wait until age 7, they won’t want to do it because that is not where they are at, developmentally. I have seen this happen with my own kids and the kids at the large preschool that I worked at. Yes, some, especially boys, will still want to play on them, but the challenge of the mastery is not there at 7 like it is at 4. Their guidelines are not developmentally appropriate.

  31. Queenie has it right, but you also have to look at a couple of other things.

    It’s our Tort Law system. Initially, it was a good thing. Circular saw makers being forced to put a safety on the saws because people were losing fingers and hands, ladders being reinforced because some manufacturers were making them cheaply… those were good uses for tort – the creation of which made things safer. They weren’t created until someone sued the manufacturer.

    So, because someone actually did lose a hand sawing, the saw manufacturers started to put a label on their saws. This let people know that it wasn’t safe, and they could look up the case in which cutting off a hand really did happen.

    It also opened the door for other companies to be sued because if there wasn’t a label, there was grounds for customer retaliation. Not all of this was bad, but the shysters caught on that no warning label/sign meant an easy mark.

    The rise of more lawyers encouraging and advising lawsuits and the rise in people looking for a way to sue someone led us to a bloom of sueage (har har har). Companies headed this off at the pass by preemptively putting labels on their products… it’s cheaper to print a billion labels than pay several million in a lawsuit. Trouble is, when someone puts a warning label on a product, the assumption is that something has happened to warrant that label… so you breed a culture of fear right alongside the culture of sue-happy people.

    To counteract all the warning labels, other companies sprung up to offer you “gadgets” to combat any safety issue that might come up (baby knee pads, anyone?)

    SKL, the companies DO have insurance, but just like what we’re seeing with doctors, once a company is sued, their premiums go up. So either way, they’re facing a budget increase be it by printing labels (cheapest), paying increases in premiums, or paying out to a suing customer (expensive). Malpractice premiums have absolutely skyrocketed. We have less people wanting to do the doctor thing because of it (among other issues).

    My recommendation for counteracting this is spreading common sense as much as we can and perhaps by doing so, we’ll stop – ever so slowly – manufacturers from having to slap labels on and scare everyone if it’s not warranted. Will it happen, doubtful, but it’s a nice thought that this could be reversed.

  32. @ John Deer: true, that accidents do happen from time to time. It’s sad that had to happen. But I’m wondering, did the parents instruct the children how to safely play with the rope and slide. ie. letting them know what they should and shouldn’t do? Had they been informed of consequences, would this have happened in the first place? This isn’t to be insensitive to the tragedy, and it’s not saying they shouldn’t have been permitted to play with a rope on the slide. But had they known consequences, they could have been more alert and careful. That’s the thing with kids, they are always learning. And if they don’t know (such as consequences), they don’t feel the need to be cautious. Such are kids, if they don’t know, all they think of is play, play, play. Until something happens. It’s up to parents to educate their children. Empower them with knowledge. It’s still sad though.

    The article didn’t mention how it happened. But I’m guessing the rope was tied at the top of the slide, so the kids can climb up (instead of using the ladder). But something like that wouldn’t have happened unless the rope was looped around the boys neck to begin with. Climbing a rope only involves hand over hand, well enough away from the head and neck.

    @ Nicola: Well put.

  33. I was in Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. Honduras, the DR… more or less the same. My village (campo) didn’t have anything… no road, electricity, water, school…. IF the kids walked to school 1/2 – 45 minutes away, they did it by themselves. They also had to wear uniforms that were standard across the country for public schools – blue shirt and tan pants/skirt…. One day, I was walking by on the trail and saw my little neighbor girl playing with a machete. Machetes are standard issue in the jungle/forest – used to open coconuts, harevest cacao (chocolate), chop firewood, cut down bananas… I told the little girl to be careful and made sure that her older sister, who ran the house, was aware of the situation. The little girl was a toddler, maybe 3 years old. Could she have fallen on the sharp giant knife and gotten seriously hurt? Sure. Did she? nope. I learned while there to take deep breaths and not look at things through American eyes – our perspective is very different as it turns out. That said, there’s no way that I would let my 3 year old play with a machete, but then again, I don’t use one every day here in Texas either…

  34. @SKL I see no evidence that in this situation, the regulation is from the government as opposed to the daycare itself. It’s described as a rule of the “facility.” Its origin is unknown.

    That said, to be honest I personally like the fact that (many) US childcare facilities are subject to government regulation. It’s part of how I chose my son’s first daycare — I limited my search to home-based five-star daycares, which means I both picked a type and a certain set of regulations I wanted them to adhere to. I also found a good one. And sure, some of the regulations they had to follow were dumb, but overall I felt they offered a good guarantee that a particular set of precautions and procedures would be followed.

    Having aged out of that facility, my son is now in a (gasp!) unregulated preschool — it can be unregulated by virtue of the fact that it is part time (a regulation in my state of residence about the lack of regulation!). It happens to be true that the person who runs it has known me at least since I was as young as my son is now, so I happen to feel that even absent “regulation” I know enough about her values and approach to be comfortable leaving my son in her care.

    But, sure, there are always going to be some dumb rules, whether created by the government regulators (if applicable) or the facility — at least, that’s my take on things. In looking for a preschool (regulated) to move my son to next year, of the two I liked best one doesn’t allow kids to bring in homemade baked goods to share and the other doesn’t allow them to have uncooked baby carrots in their (parent-provided) lunches. Both rules strike me as silly, but neither strikes me as something so aggravating that I can’t work it into our life. And neither originates with the government.

  35. Hi Lenore, I popped over because I’m writing a little piece for a book and wanted to use the term “free range parenting”. I see you’ll be in Berkeley soon. I run a site called 510families.com. Please contact us so we can help promote your event!

  36. Talking about perplexing:
    My 13-year-old daughter has been spending today at a Red cross babysitting course. I signed her up because it is a rite of passage and the CPR lesson is something she should do anyway. She’s already been babysitting since she was 12 and is used to managing quite a few things on her own, like the subway, making her own pizza and waiting for her dad and I to come home from the theatre.
    Yesterday morning I got an e-mail from the people organizing the course where telling me the following:
    “We must know whether your student has your permission to leave the building for any reason e.g. to buy lunch in the mall. If not they must bring their lunch/snacks with them and would be expected to remain in the classroom. We also need to know whether your student will be picked up or will be making their own way home. Please confirm these points with us via return email or in writing on the morning of the course.”

    The idea that some would send kids they don’t consider mature enough to manage on their own to a babysitting course, was frankly beyond my imagination.
    The idea of having to babysit adolescents with a fresh Babysitting-diploma is actually quite funny, sort of like “teaching a new teacher how to spell”.

  37. @Hege At least they let the parents make the decision. Coming from car centric Houston my view point is a little different. I would expect a 13 yo to be picked up, unless this was held in a neighborhood school. We don’t have dependable mass transit.

  38. Okay, I’m about to be rude here, so if don’t want to hear a tackless opinion just skip this. We don’t live in a society that babies our children due to lawsuits, government regulations, or faceless people’s neurocies, we live in a society that babies our children because we allow it. I’m so tired of people saying ‘they won’t let my kid walk/ride to school until they’re X years old’ or ‘my kid’s daycare requires X’….they’re OUR kids, and their power only extends as far as WE let it. Do you think the school is going to tell the 7 year old that just walked to school ‘go back home and make your mom drive you to school’? Or course not, they’ll send you a note ‘reminding’ you of school policy..and you send them a note stating your kid will continue to walk to school. Daycare doesn’t let them play on the monkey bars? Find another one. Or, here’s a thought, take care of/educate your kids yourself or place them in a private insitution that doesn’t rely upon government money and therefore isn’t subject to government oversight. They only reason our kids are dealing with obsurb governmental rules is because parents are giving their kids to the government to raise. Don’t want the government raising your kids with a bunch of stupid rules? Don’t place them under the governments pervue. Homeschool, or private school if you can afford to. Stay home with your small children, or choose a family member or in-home private daycare if you CAN’T avoid childcare. I love this blog because it let’s me see into the insanity of the ‘other’ side of parenting. But I will never understand why people allow their children to be made lab rats for the next over-coddling insane regulation someone comes up with when they don’t agree with it. For heaven’s sake, you don’t need their permission to be a parent!

  39. Jespren, in my state, there are no daycare centers or schools that are not subject to state regulation, unless they are family or have less than 4 kids. If I want my kids to be in group day care / school, there are no legal choices that don’t include government regulation. I honestly don’t know why that is, but I don’t think there is an easy fix for it.

  40. SKL, so the SAHM a couple blocks over who charges $2.50 an hour to watch kids in her home is subject to the same government oversite as is the ‘professional’ daycare that is ‘accredited’? I find that exceptionally hard to believe, not to mention it would be functionally impossible to inforce. Which state do you live in that has enough $ and police time to chase down every mom who hangs a shingle as a daycare provider? And if that IS the case, I suppose somewhere in the union might have been so overrun with the nanny state mentality that may be the case…there are 49 other ones. There might not be an easy fix for a state that is THAT far gone, but that’s why each state has it’s own laws and consitution. You better believe that if the state I’m currently in passed some law that made homeschooling functionally illegal (as it is in some states, not technically illegal but functionally so after all the hoops and regulations one must pass through) my family would rather move than sacrifice our children to the alter of pointless liberal insanity that is the public school system. It’s not easy to move, but no one said raising kids right was easy. I know of families from Germany and other EU countries that have fled to America just so the govermental nanny state won’t be forcibly impressed upon their children. I guarentee if every parent upset over daycare regulations or public school mandates simply pulled their kids out, things would change. You can’t teach to an empty classroom (or make money from an empty center) and those in charge would have the choice between changing regulations or finding a new job. But as long as the overwelming number of parents stick to grumbling non-action the powers that be will know they can go right on doing as they please. After all, what are the parents going to do about it? Society says they have free reign because not even a substanial minority (which is all it would take) won’t take it seriously enough to ‘vote with their feet’ as the saying goes. And before someone says ‘well that’s just not plausible unless you’re rich’, of course it is. There is a difference between ‘dont want to’ and ‘cant’. Most families can manage on one income (so mom or dad can take care of/educate their kids themselves), they just don’t want to because it will change their standard of living. Or can manage to afford a decent private school if both parents work.
    The real problem, IMO seems more to be this mentality that children exsist as some sort of accessory to enhance the parent’s life, as opposed to parents exsisting to give a stable and proper home to the next generation, sacrificing their fullfillment, wants, and wishes for the few short years our children need our undivided, or at least primary, attention. If we as parents see our job to bring up properly raised children we’ll be willing to sacrifice our jobs, careers, social standing, etc, anything we need to in other to do so. But if we have children to be parents so we may be fullfilled adults, they we won’t be willing to give up the other things that fulfill us, like careers, nice houses, and social standing. Unfortunately when I look around I see a whole lot of the 2nd and only a handful of the 1st.

  41. @Jespren. Enough! Seriously, enough of the parent-bashing; enough of equating any government policy with “nanny-state.
    If anything, the way you express your views will push people away from free-ranging.

  42. Jespren, I am raising my daughters to be adults and I hope they will be happy and fulfilled as well as responsible adults. Therefore I am modeling for them the idea that mothers’ needs should not be the lowest priority on this planet.

    Aside from the fact that my little accessories only have one parent, so your “single income” speech is irrelevant to me.

    As for gov’t regulation, I am not lying and I live in a state where the politics are halfway between liberal and conservative. State regulation has been a factor here since I was a kid at least (a LONG time ago). I would not be surprised to find that more than a handful of US states regulate non-public child care and schools. Actually, I would be surprised to find otherwise.

    I agree that citizens have been too complacent but this is now where we find ourselves. I think it is worth discussing what to do about it (other than moving). That said, I don’t think it’s bad enough for me to move yet, though it bugs me (and more than that, the trend disturbs me). On balance, my kids are better off for their daycare/preschool, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

  43. Someone mentioned above that broken bones were to be avoided at all costs because they cause such terrible problems later. I disagree. I broke my arm falling off the monkey bars when I was 12. Aside from not being able to do “junior birdman” since I broke it, my arm is just fine 30 years later. It was a pretty bad break, too, requiring general anesthesia to set it and three months in a cast.

  44. When I was in elementary school, the school was forced to take down the playground equipment because a parent threatened to sue! Why? Because they thought the equipment was to dangerous and a child could be hurt. Thanks for ruining my elementary-school experience!

  45. Someone mentioned above that broken bones were to be avoided at all costs because they cause such terrible problems later. I disagree. I broke my arm falling off the monkey bars when I was 12. Aside from not being able to do “junior birdman” since I broke it, my arm is just fine 30 years later.

    You’re 42. 42 is not “old”. I’m talking about when you become elderly (60+) you’ll start paying for it. My dad broke his leg when he was in his 20s – it hasn’t been a problem for him until the last few years (he’s now 60). My grandmother broke her wrist when she was in her 70s – that wrist healed, but it became more of a burden on her as she aged (almost to 100).

    And I meant that reasonable measures should be taken to avoid children breaking bones (if monkey bars do cause disproportionately more broken bones than other playground equipment than yeah, maybe not have them). I don’t believe in doing pretty well anything “at all costs”. Framing my opinion like that puts words in my mouth that I did not say and makes me sound unreasonable.

  46. That’s very sad. Is there someplace we can donate vitamins and such to those poor kids?

  47. The vast majority of “safety” rules in today’s north american society are 100% about liability and 0% about safety. There is no hope left – those of us with common sense will move to places like Costa Rica, Brazil, Thailand or even Europe as soon as we can retire to get far away from the north american absurdity.

  48. As a kid, I broke my leg falling down steps off from a deck, and broke my arm falling off a horse. My father broke his arm falling out of a tree as a kid. If you stop kids from doing anything that might lead to broken bones, there would be no ice-rinks, no skiing, no bikes, and definitely no horse-riding. I’m all for helmets to prevent head-injuries, but limbs heal.

    Regarding monkey-bars, my daughters’ summer camp had them removed after a kid broke her arm. I complained, and they told me that didn’t want to remove them, but had no choice because their insurance company insisted they had to go. So this was nothing to do with gov regs, or even their fear of being sued, but rather the insurance company’s fear of having to pay out. By contrast, my kids’ public schools have monkey bars, as do all the local town-owned playgrounds. So in this case the private sector is more wimpy than gov.

    On a similar note, my workplace summer party used to include a bouncy castle for kids of employees. To save costs we thought we’d get our own bouncy castle, rather than pay an outside company (for which they supplied a person to staff the bouncy castle). But then our insurance company told us they would not cover the party if it included a bouncy castle…so end of that fun.

    Insurance companies (and hence the willingness to sue) have a lot to answer for.

  49. Sonya, excellent point. SKL brought up insurance upthread and yes, insurance will protect you from lawsuits as long as you follow their guidelines. Having worked for a health club and gotten to know some of the insurance policies we shopped for, I can tell you that they have fairly consistent requirements. You always have the option of going against those reqs but it will either be uninsured or at a prohibitive premium.

  50. Also, having gone through 2 incidents THAT DID NOT INCLUDE A LAWSUIT with those insurers, I can tell you that the root of the problem is with the insurer’s fear of litigation not so much the litigation itself.

  51. Blame the lawyers on this one.

  52. LIberty Dad, is that a capital L capital I as in Long Island? Hope so. LI needs free-rangers. Down with SUV-chauffeured organized sports! Up with using expansive lawns for playing! Bring back the glory days of suburbs as children’s paradise!

  53. Well you could switch daycares? I worked at a daycare and there were all kinds of crazy rules we had to follow as workers whether we agreed with them or not. Daycares are big on doing what is good for the group and not the individual child. For example, your child is adept at monkey bars. The other 4 year olds might not be so they will hold your child back for the group because if the other 4 year olds did it they might get injured.

    This is why I am not a fan of daycares. I stay at home with my kids. That way I can give them more individual attention and rights.

  54. […] children, and articles about ridiculous restrictions. This is a particularly insightful post https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2…he-jungle-gym/ And this https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2…-staying-calm/ A 6 year old, having enough sense […]

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