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Sunday, March 25, 2007 

OMG this is freakin stupid!

It's old news, but I just read this a few minutes ago...

KATU News

- By Susan Harding

PORTLAND, Ore - Most adults can remember the carefree days of childhood, climbing trees and jumping from swings, often on schoolyard playgrounds.

Climbing, swinging and sliding was once a rite of passage during recess, a time for adventure, to see how high, how far and how fast we could go as a kid.

Today, kids find themselves grounded, victims of a culture of fear and injury litigation.

A growing number of school districts are going so far as to ban the game of tag and are even posting signs that read "no running on the playground."

Is there real danger on the modern playground?

Safety advocates say yes and want to eliminate it.

Their first target: swing sets.

They've convinced Portland Public Schools to remove all swings from elementary schools playgrounds.

But even a playground inspector finds the removal of swing sets a little over the top.

He says that swinging creates motion and is an important part of childhood development.

But the safety advocates don't stop there.

Portland Public Schools have also rejected merry go rounds, tube slides, track rides, arch climbers, and teeter totters.

At Grant Park in Northeast Portland, some parents embrace a new plastic enclosed play area, noting that the construction of the play equipment does not have sharp corners, and soft surfaces are used in many areas.

As for the disappearing swings at school playgrounds, some parents say the kids won't miss them, while others decry the move as overprotective.

And it's not just Portland that is seeing playground equipment disappear.

Our lawsuit happy culture has schools and parks installing low-to-the-ground play structures that some have derided as "dumbed down."

Now, it seems, anything with moving parts is a lawsuit liability, and in some places, that even means moving legs.

In Broward County, Florida, there's a new rule on the playground: no running.

A parent there commented that "no running on the playground, that's kind of like no playing on the playground" and another called for a review of what exactly was "safe" or unsafe.

So what can kids still play?

Not dodge ball or tether ball, that's still too dangerous. And in Beaverton, at Barnes Elementary School, rules there forbid the game of tag.

In Salem, an elementary education director says "we don't encourage the game of tag because it encourages fights."

But at Catlin Gabel, a private school, there's an entirely different philosophy at work on the playground. One where monkey bars, slides and other playground favorites are used daily by a roiling mass of youngsters, some who come away with skinned knees or other minor boo-boos.

Kids there are taking chances, even jumping from swings, and it's all encouraged.

An adult watching the students play says it's really the nature of childhood to take small risks and find out what they can do and what they can't do.

One child psychologist points to the rising trend of childhood obesity in defense of letting kids play like kids.

National statistics indicate 34 percent of kids are overweight, with obesity projected to be nearly 50 percent in the year 2010.

But safety advocates point to different numbers, saying playground accidents cause 200,000 injuries nationwide each year, and 17 deaths.

It's a debate that is sure to continue, as some say kids can never be safe enough, and others feel that if kids can't jump from the swing set and maybe skin a knee, they are not learning valuable life lessons.

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