Protecting Us from Ourselves: A Moment with Bill Reflection
The Fuel for This Article
So there I was, scanning the latest news online, when I came across a story about the Richland School District in my home state of Washington.
It seems that the school district has decided to remove all swing sets from the playgrounds at all of their elementary schools because they are a danger to school children. Steve Aagard, district representative, stated: "It's just really a safety issue," he said. "Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment.”
One parent was quoted in the story and she had this to say: "When my daughter starts elementary school, those swings can get crazy," she says, adding that she once witnessed a toddler walk right in front of a moving swing.
"By the time you could do something about it she was knocked out," said Kaineoz.
Insurance studies tell us that over 200,000 children require emergency care each year due to swing set injuries.
I don’t even know where to begin with my comments. Why don’t we take a look at another related story, and then maybe I can find the words.
Across the Country
While doing a little research for this article, I was a bit surprised to find that dodge ball is now banned in many school districts. If you caught me on a weak moment when my defenses were down, I might concede that there are times when dodge ball can get a little out-of-hand. LOL But upon further research, I found a number of states that are now trying to ban Freeze Tag, Whiffle Ball, Red Rover and Capture-the-Flag.
What’s next, banning Kick-the-Can because it can cause damage to the can?
Whiffle ball? Dangerous? Maybe the way we played it, with the plastic ball wrapped tightly with layers of electrical tape, it could be considered slightly risky if a line drive caught you in the puss, but come on….whiffle ball dangerous?
So what’s going on in this country?
Is this simply a matter of the insurance companies covering their butts to fend off possible lawsuits?
In most cases yes, that’s exactly what it is, but stop and look at that sentence for a moment. If there were no lawsuits, the insurance companies would never get involved in the games of children. Fifty years ago you never would have heard…hell, you never would have dreamed, that whiffle ball, dodge ball, or Red Rover would be banned, but that’s simply because fifty years ago parents didn’t exist who would sue over game-related injuries. Today we have parents coming out of the woodwork willing to sue when little Jimmy gets his bell rung playing Capture-the-Flag.
So, is it the insurance industry to blame, or is it a case of overprotective and litigation-loving, over-coddling parents?
I know who gets my vote.
I only have to think back a few years to the lawsuit filed against McDonald’s for serving coffee that was too hot.
The Madness Continues
So I kept researching. One mother sued a school because her son had four teeth knocked out when a ground ball took an unfortunate bad hop during baseball practice. Evidently it was the coach’s fault for not adequately giving that infielder a face mask to protect him from injury.
Another child broke her arm when she fell off a rope swing. The rope swing was in a neighbor’s yard. The child had not been invited to the neighbor’s yard to swing. She had taken it upon herself to enter the yard without permission and swing on that swing. The child’s mother is suing the neighbor for having an unsafe apparatus in the yard.
I couldn’t read any more articles. I was thoroughly disgusted.
Where Does This Kind of Madness Come From?
Listen, I’m all for people being held accountable if they are endangering others through neglect. If the owner of a carnival ride does not upgrade and maintain the rides, he should have his butt handed to him through lawsuits. He deserves it.
But suing a school because your child walked too close to a swing set is a bit much, don’t you think?
Where is this coming from? Is it simply a matter of some people looking to make a quick buck? Are times so tough that we have to punish others because we can’t pay our bills?
I think it goes deeper than that. I think this strikes at the roots of personal responsibility. I don’t know how we reached this point. I remember my playground activities and I know there was no way a lawsuit would be filed on those playgrounds fifty-five years ago, so something happened during the last fifty-five years. What was it? How did we go from being responsible for ourselves to demanding that someone protect us from ourselves?
I don’t have an answer. I’m sure there are those who think this is the fault of the Democrats. I’m laughing as I type that. I’m sure the Republicans are at fault. Laughing some more.
I may be laughing but I don’t have an answer.
We are talking about a major cultural shift and I would love to know what caused it, because if we know the cause then maybe we can cause a similar shift in the opposite direction. Maybe we can live long enough to see members of society quit blaming everyone else for their hardships.
I Was a Teacher
I’ve supervised more playgrounds than you can imagine over eighteen years. I was diligent and always watched out for hidden dangers, but I gotta tell ya, there are times when kids will just do stupid things. That’s part of being a kid, right? It’s the fault of no one. Crap happens…move on! Sure kids get hurt at school. Sure kids get hurt playing sports. And they grow up and they get hurt driving or at work or playing catch in the backyard with their own kids. Crap happens…move on!
I’ll tell you my main problem with this trend, besides the fact that I find it ridiculous. My main problem is that I see society giving away ownership for its own actions. I see a bunch of sheep hoping that someone else will protect them. I see irresponsibility and helplessness being fostered and actually rewarded.
I do not need someone to warn me that a cup of coffee that I just purchased is hot. I don’t need to be warned that a baseball traveling at 100 mph is a dangerous object. Not only do I not need to be warned; I don’t need to be protected, either. I’m fully capable of doing that myself, thank you very much, and I don’t expect anyone else to hold my hand as I navigate through life.
I just remembered something that happened when I was about ten. My friends and I headed off to the park one fine summer’s day. While there we decided it would be a good idea to slide down the slides standing up. You can imagine what happened to yours truly. While surfing down that slick surface my feet went out from under me and I was left bloodied and bruised. When I got home my mom nursed my wounds while my dad lovingly (insert angrily here) explained that when you do stupid things you can expect painful consequences. “Next time, Bill,” he said. “Maybe you’ll use your head before you do something so stupid.”
Lesson learned. By the way, there were no lawsuits. I was, however, grounded for actions unbecoming an intelligent human being.
I Don’t Know What We Solved with This Rant
But damn, I feel better having ranted, so thanks for letting me go on.
Am I crazy? Are you seeing the same things?
I need to think some more on this subject. I think I’ll go for a walk. Note to self: do not walk by the playground set at the park. Those things are damned dangerous!
Just kidding. Hey, I’m organizing a game of Red Rover. Who wants to join me?
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)