Sunday, July 27, 2008

Safety First: A disturbing culture of safety at any cost

In my hometown, which is really little more than a pothole without a stoplight, we know how to celebrate the 24th of July. For those who don't know, that is when we celebrate the Pioneers coming into the Salt Lake Valley. Typically, we would reserve the county fair grounds, gorge and feast on BBQ'ed hambergers and any dessert imaginable. But that is not all... we would top it all off with a rodeo. Sure, there is stuff for the little kids like chicken chases and mutton-busting, but there is more serious rodeo stuff too. In addition to standby's like barrel-racing, there is bullriding. The last time I was there, I got my girls to ride a calf.

(They refused, and were scared, and fell off and got hurt, and cried and swore they would never do it again and then a year later were anxious to try it again.)

But now it is coming to an end. I suppose the feasting part will go on, but no more rodeo. Since it is a church activity, they have to put a stop to it for liability reasons. Oh, I am not going to criticize the church for having to do this. The lawsuits happening these days are truly outragous. Right or wrong, it simply was not affordable.

This same legal atmosphere has reduced the fun of playgrounds of our childhood, with the dull plastic over-safe equiment now present. Nothing allowed unless there is an almost zero chance you could fall and bump your nose. (That is only a very slight exageration) Even if you are in the right, the lawsuits can be impossible to fight.

And we wonder why children don't spend time outside as much these days.

There was a great post over at 1000 Awesome Things about superiority of old playground equiment. Best comment - "You westerners are soft. When I was kid, my playground was broken T64 tank and we play hopscotch around anti personel mines!"

The question we need to ask is, is this over-concern for children doing them more good than harm? Is this part of the reason for the obesity epidemic? - outside is just too dangerous without being sterilized and neutered beyond recognition?

Is a safe world possible? Or are we just picking our poisons? Personally, I would rather have my precious little girls have a few good scrapes and broken bones than be sheltered from every pointy stick on the ground. They will meet those kinds of problems eventually anyway. I would rather that they be ready for them.

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