Recess is over

You can’t have fun anymore.

At least if you’re a kid in Attleboro, Mass., where tag has been banned during recess on elementary school playgrounds. And not just tag — dodgeball, touch football and any other games possibly involving contact were banned, too.

School officials are worried about students getting injured and parents responding with lawsuits. It’s a trend that is becoming more common across the country — Charleston, S.C., Spokane, Wash., and Cheyenne, Wyo., all have similar bans, according to a story in yesterday’s Boston Herald.

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, notes that a 2001 study found that 200,000 children are treated for playground-related injuries each year. A little less than half of those are considered severe — broken bones and concussions.

But just 15 kids are killed each year, and three-fourths of them die from accidents at home. Most of them also die from falls or strangulation on equipment — not from getting hit by a dodgeball.

Parents don’t want their kids to get hurt. But childhood injuries are a fact of life. Among the five members of this editorial board, there were numerous broken bones, black eyes, skinned knees and head welts from kids’ games. Guess what? Kids heal. We all turned out to be healthy adults.

Americans are worried about unhealthy living, and childhood obesity rates are out of control. If we continue to take away options for kids to get exercise, what’s left? Virtual X-Box games of four-square don’t do much to burn calories and build muscle. And running laps and step aerobics just don’t interest 7-year-olds.

If we want kids to associate exercise with fun and develop a lifelong interest in fitness, we have to give them enjoyable options. The fact that adult dodgeball leagues have sprung up across the country show that previous generations weren’t traumatized by the minor hits and injuries a little contact caused. Some of us loved it so much we keep playing years later. Yes, some members of this editorial board have been known to throw down with four-square outside the Stater office.

Jungle gyms and monkey bars rising 12 feet off the hard asphalt pavement are dangerous, to be sure. A fall from one of those could cause a major, life-threatening injury. And school districts are smart to replace them with safer alternatives.

But getting tagged too hard by an overzealous classmate? Nothing more than a little boo-boo that’s easy to heal.

Don’t take away childhood, dude.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.