Wednesday, April 23, 2008

School's ban of tag underscores why the workplace bullying movement might catch on

Today's example of society's downward spiral to wussification, which plays right into the hands of the anti-bullying movement, comes from the Washington Post, which reports that a Virginia elementary school has banned tag at recess:

Robyn Hooker, principal of Kent Gardens Elementary School, has told students they may no longer play tag during recess after determining that the game of chasing, dodging and yelling "You're it!" had gotten out of hand. Hooker explained to parents in a letter this month that tag had become a game "of intense aggression." ...

Many schools nationwide have whittled down playground activities in response to concerns about injuries, bullying or litigation. Dodge ball is a thing of the past in many places, and contact sports are often limited at recess. ...

Since the prohibition began early this month, physical education teachers have begun a "chasing, fleeing and dodging" unit in first through fifth grades. Students essentially play variations of tag, and the teachers remind them about safety rules and point out the athletic skills they can transfer to other sports, said Sue Straits, a PE teacher.

Other parents said that slips and falls are part of growing up and that restricting games is not the right solution. Chris Delta, a Kent Gardens mother, said she knows "life's not going to breeze" for her children. She wants them to learn how to cope with difficulty. Her own daughter has been injured on the playground, she said. Once she was pushed off a jungle gym and had the wind knocked out of her, and another time she got a goose egg when a student threw a rock in the air and it landed on her head. "I didn't expect because of these two instances that the equipment would be banned or all the rocks or pebbles or stones would be taken away," Delta said.

Michael Haaren, a father, said that if some children are being too aggressive, they should be disciplined. Limiting the activity is a "draconian" measure, he said. He is concerned that schools are on a bad trajectory. "Where are we headed here? The elimination of recess altogether? It has happened in other schools. Will we eliminate 'duck duck goose' because kids are being touched?" he asked.

Don't think for a second that today's kids who can't handle playground games aren't going to be tomorrow's employees who will run to court every time their boss is mean. [Hat tip: John Phillips' The Word on Employment Law]

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