National Nannies Now Say Kids’ Playgrounds are too Safe?
After decades of removing the slightest possibility of a child getting hurt on a playground, some are now saying the safety advocates went too far, and that America's playgrounds for children are actually "too safe."
There's a growing backlash against child advocates obsessed with playground safety. Many people say playgrounds are so safe they're actually doing our children more harm than good.
Many child development experts are questioning the value of safety-first playgrounds. They say "so what" if children suffer fewer physical injuries — ultra-safe playgrounds may stunt emotional development, and leave children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than an ankle sprain or even a broken bone.
One psychology professor in Norway says “Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground.” Dr. Ellen Sandseter says she thinks "monkey bars and tall slides are great, because as playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”
Falls are the most common cause of playground injuries, but few kids ever suffer permanent damage - physical or emotional. Many parents are afraid a child who falls and gets hurt will grow up afraid of heights, but studies have shown the exact opposite result: A child hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely to have a fear of heights as he gets older.
Years ago in one of his early comedy recordings, Bill Cosby ridiculed the playground safety experts in a story about the vacant lot in Philadelphia where he and his friends played when he was a kid.
Cosby said there was no playground equipment, just rocks and broken glass everywhere, but nobody ever got hurt and they had a lot of fun playing their own games.
Then came the do-gooders who paved the vacant lot, put in swings, see-saws and monkey bars, and kids started dropping like flies with broken arms, noses and ankles. He says it was so dangerous he and his friends stopped playing there.