Starting Pistol Banned from Field Day — “Too Scary” for Kids

Hi Readers — Kids at an elementary school in England were all set for a big bang: The chief “starter” for the London Olympics agreed to kick off the races at their school with his official starting gun, according to The Telegraph.

Then the local council said: Put the gun down and back off slowly. They deemed the noise from the  gun would be too frightening for the kiddies.  As an alternative, first they suggested a RECORDING of the gun be used instead. (Huh? Yeah. They did.) Then they settled on the starter using a Klaxon. Because Klaxons don’t kill people, starter guns do?

The take-away message from the politicians is this: Kids, you are so vulnerable that you can’t handle even a simple surprise. Please go on to fall apart at the merest hint of something new or strange. A wobbly upper lip is what you need. Keep freaked and carry on.  – L.

36 Responses

  1. To be fair, I can remember hating the sound of starting guns and gym whistles as a kid. However, I think banning them is silly.

  2. FWIW, you won’t hear a gun at the Olympics but an electronic beep….

  3. “Anyone who believes they would be frightened by a starting pistol has never experienced the noise at a typical three-year-old’s birthday party.”
    Best quote in the article.

    Council just deflated this man’s career with their silly safety concerns.

  4. Good grief … are they afraid they’ll be like fainting goats and keel over at a sharp noise?

    I’m living within a few miles of an explosives research center, and despite the daily small explosions and the occasional window-rattling KA-BOOM complete with impressive mushroom cloud of black smoke, the local children seem calm and happy.

  5. Kids afraid of the starting pistol? Nothing Denzel Washington can’t handle:

  6. The electronic beep (and strobe light) that was used at my high school swim meets scared the crap out of me every time. A starting gun would not have been scarier.

    Maybe, just maybe, if gun fire is a regular part of these kid’s lives (in the ‘duck and/or run for your life’ way) then a starting gun might not be the best choice. Otherwise, I don’t think it matters what loud sudden noise one uses.

  7. Well, at least the article’s authors and most people they cite seem to think it is ridiculous. Chances are, were it printed in the US, it would be the other way around.

  8. Maybe it just that the Brits are more evolved on the issue of guns. Unlike our John Wayne society where we have an epidemic of guns, British cops don’t even carry guns.

    Maybe instead of wanting them to become desensitized to guns, we should work to make our kids more sensitive to guns. Maybe we would be a better nation if more of our kids were scared when they heard a gun shot instead of hearing gun fire every night while they try to sleep.

    Kids who live just miles from where you live in Brooklyn Lenore or in Paterson, NJ just miles from my house do not only hear gun fire at a track meet. They hear it every day and see what happens when a gun is fired, how it kills, maims and ruins young lives.

    Lets face it, guns kill people. Maybe we shouldn’t be using them to start races, making them like a toy instead of a very dangerous weapon.

  9. It’s not entirely true that British cops don’t carry guns.

    And a tool used to start a race is not a “toy.” It’s a tool used to start a race. Klaxons, starting blocks, and timers aren’t “toys,” either, they’re equipment. Maybe part of the the reason people that gun misuse is as widespread as it is in the U.S. that too many people don’t understand that the real world for people over the age of 3 doesn’t need to be divided up into “things to be avoided” and “toys to be played with.” Further infantilizing life by claiming that a gunshot is a sound too scary for children regardless of the context only compounds this false choice.

  10. Is anyone else a bit surprised that the powers-that-be have yet to decide that having a field day is too dangerous in itself? I mean, a lot of schools have done away with recess, but field day remains. Why is that?

  11. Every Brit gets tired of Health and Safety, as demonstrated by Fascinating Aida:

  12. The people in charge are all just plain nuts now. They think a starting gun is frightening, when the youngins KNOW and EXPECT to hear a gun go off to start things, so it’s not THAT much of a surprise.

    So, they’re nuts there, just as Mayor Bloomberg is nuts telling people they can’t feed homeless people or buy a stupid 16-ounce drink. And police in Colorado stopping and arresting everyone parked in an intersection to maybe find a possible robber, that’s totally nuts. And people continuing to allow sickos and pervs to grope and molest them at the airport even though we KNOW that isn’t doing anything to prevent terrorism. But The Powers That Be want to protect little ones from hearing a gun.

    And politicians and government bureaucrats, many of whom are rarely not drunk, busy with the zeal of drooling zombies pushing the War on Drugs and persecuting pain-killer users and marijuana users. Loony-tunes run things now.

    But we must protect little kids from hearing some loud noise, just as we must protect them from feeling bad if they lose a game or fail a test.

    It’s all craziness, I wish it were 1980 again. (Even 1990 would be good, for crying out loud!)

  13. Where we live, it’s very likely that my kids will come across guns at friends’ houses. Rather than telling them to avoid guns, both my kids are trained in gun safety and gun use. That way, if a friend pulls out a gun, they know how to use it safely, and, far more important, can judge if the friend can use it safely.

    With the success of Hunger Games, lots of kids, and girls in particular, are now interested in archery. I expect to see archery injuries spike this summer, because few kids will be taught the proper safety rules. So let’s teach our kids the difference between toys and real weapons, and teach them how to evaluate the risk involved. My kids will tell you that I have not one iota of humor when weapons are involved. You toe the line or I throw you out.

    A starter pistol is not dangerous. A real gun is. Prohibiting starter pistols is just plain stupid. If everything is dangerous, then nothing is.

    Don’t teach fear, provide knowledge and teach respect.

  14. Oh, for crying out loud. I’m so sick of random adults deciding what things kids will or won’t be afraid of. How the hell do they know?

    Earlier this year there was a gun fight in our town–one deranged white supremacist, anti-government nutjob went crazy, killed his wife, burned his house down and started firing at police.

    The gunfire went on for hours and it was loud. I was like a mile away and could hear it. My kids were at school just blocks from the action and they said it was really loud but not a single one of them was scared by the noise. Not even my kindergartener. They were under a lockdown (no lights, doors shut, windows covered–even the ones in the doors–no going outside, complete quiet in the halls) and everything. They still weren’t scared. Nervous maybe, but not freaking out and crying.

    And I remember being at my father-in-law’s funeral. As an Army veteran he got a 21 gun salute. My kids were all 2 and under and they barely flinched when the guns went off. And that was very, very loud standing just feet away. The older kids (my husband’s nephews) thought it was cool.

    There might have been a handful of kids frightened, probably the ones that are so sheltered, but the majority probably would have thought the thing was cool.

  15. Well, of course they are afraid. They’ve been banned from even mentioning guns from preschool on up. I recall when my kids were 3 or 4 and their preschool teacher sent a horrified note home because my kids were pointing their fingers and saying “bang, bang.” Obviously real guns must be beyond all other horrors.

    Then too, you have people in the anti-gun crowd who insist that the only purpose of having a gun is to shoot somebody.

    Not that TV helps any. Sigh.

  16. I can’t imagine that my daughter would like the starting gun. She is not a fan of loud noises. But that is okay. The world doesn’t need to be tailor-made to fit her likes and dislikes at all times.

  17. I am bothered by the underlying idea that being frightened is somehow bad. There are plenty of times I was frightened or scared as a kid that are among my fondest memories. And some scares still bother me, but that is not a bad thing in and of itself. I’m not talking about serious scares like being lost or a parent being sick. But regular scares can be fun for a kid.

  18. That HSE song is epic…..remind me to Google the lyrics. 🙂

  19. And perhaps, over here in America, we should ban fireworks on the Fourth of July and replace them with silent LED lights on the underside of a blimp.

  20. […] according to The Telegraph. Then the local council said: Put the gun down and back off slowly.… Link – […]

  21. @Yan Seiner-
    Many families hunt in our area and thus have weapons. Our kids do archery (and my oldest loved the Hunger Games) at our local gun club. Educating them on weapons is essential. They may see a gun case, but have respect to never touch one without an adult present.

    I had a disagreement with a mom about the appropriateness of letting my son read the Hunger Games. She felt it was too violent. Yet she lets her son play “Call of Duty” and other violent video games involving guns. She said we all know that’s just pretend. I said yes, and the Hunger Games is fiction, too.

  22. I just read this to my 7yo and asked her what she thought and she said she found it annoying because they think kids are way too vulnerable.

    It bothers me even more because it was the council making this decision. Why? I expect schools to be given some authority on making decisions concerning the kids in their care. They are in a much better position to assess if a starter gun would result in mass hysteria or not.

  23. You’ll be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way.
    It is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge
    will be sufficient to get you through your examinations which, after all, is what school is all about.

    –Dolores Jane Umbridge

  24. My daughter hates loud noises. She goes to the firework though, because the family is going. I do let her wear the ear plugs. Just because she doesn’t like this one night does not mean that the whole family needs to alter what we want to do.

    Likewise with this. Kids not running can put their fingers in their ears when the starter raises the gun. If the noise freaks them out too much, don’t run. Do the tug of war or something else.

    My kids have been involved in various community races from the age of 2 up. They all used starting guns. They are tool, to be respected and not played with, because when mishandled, they CAN cause damage, but only at close range. (That is in part why the starter raises his/her arm.) But people don’t need to be scared of it, just respect it and the person using it.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the world over the only time kids heard gun shots was when it was starting an exciting race or putting dinner on the table? Not, because the gun was aimed at another person and fired due to anger or in commission of a crime.?

  25. @Ash, Great quote from HP. It does remind me of the way schools are going – no more “scary” dissections or experiments, we’ll tone it down and just teach you theory.

    The bang is loud, your heart might skip for a moment….then you get over it! Frankly those klaxons are just as loud and startling

  26. The gun’s great. How else can you safely train children to run when they hear gunshots?

  27. Have to assume wherever this is happening doesn’t do any kind of Chinese New Year parade either (and those are becoming popular in parts of New Zealand, not sure about England).The noise is supposed to chase away demonic stuff, but frankly is enough to wake the dead, IMHO!( Have had to remove one of my kids from the vicinity of a ‘dragon’, because her screams were apparently chasing the good luck away)
    Anyway a starter pistol wouldn’t be a patch on things like those sort of festivals, particularly with their accompanying fireworks. How does this place cope with Guy Fawkes night – or has England given up celebrating that?

  28. Of all western nations, the UK has to be the craziest messed up mob. They even have schools where parents aren’t allowed to attend to watch their children play sport.

  29. Reminds me of the days of 40-some years ago, when my daughters were in the 8 to 11 year old range. We had a Model A Ford “project car”–it did run but was literally held together with baling wire. One day we went to a local department store with an underground parking area. It wasn’t too hard to make the old four-banger backfire, so I made it go “Kaboom” and the girls thought it was a kick and a half. “Do it again!” “Nope, once is enough.”
    Today we’d probably have the SWAT team and the Bomb Squad arriving “code 3”.

  30. We had a sports day a couple of years ago and the younger kids kept missing the beginning of the race as they were covering their ears – it WAS really loud!

  31. Wow. That is the stupidest thing I have heard all week.

  32. I still remember the excitement that LOUD NOISE can bring when you’re a kid. I still grin like an idiot when I go to the annual carnival and am surrounded by all these tremendously loud sounds coming from all the rides because there’s that connection to my childhood. While in normal situations I am a grumpy old woman who values nothing more than peace and quiet. Same with marching bands. They would just be no fun if they wouldn’t be so loud that you can feel your eardrums vibrate when they pass. One of the pearls of wisdom I taught my daughter is: “Never trust a person who doesn’t smile at the sound of a marching band”. lol Maybe I should extend that to never trusting people who think it necessary to ban starting pistols.

  33. Since we’re talking about the UK, have you all seen the neverseconds blog? A nine year old girl in Scotland started taking pictures of her school lunches and blogging about them to try and get the school to improve food quality.. After the blog got popular, she started raising money for school kitchens in Africa. The council tried to ban her from taking pictures, but they’ve reversed their position.

  34. Ban this, ban that….so many things are banned nowadays that aren’t dangerous/damaging.

    @Cynthia – yes it’s a great blog. I’m very impressed with her initiative in rating the food and getting fruit and vegies into the meals. And can I say from some of the photos – what kids are eating looks rather terrible and unhealthy (like her first photo)

  35. This wave of bans (and i am not meaning just the ones here. same for various technological equipment and so on) mean that we are entering the second generation of copter parents, those who were raised by the 1st generation copter parents

    When they were kids, they were protected by their parents from all kinds of stuff out there in the world, when it was still kinda normal. Now that they grew up, they want to keep that protection. But they are adults now. mommy not there to protect, so they resort to the politicians instead

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