Playgrounds and Recess: A Thing of the Past?

Playground

Playground by Sam Howzit

American schools are following a trend of removing playgrounds and some all together are eliminating recess. Many adults can think back on fond memories of touch football, tag, and even just swinging on a swing with friends at school when they were younger.  Unfortunately it appears that for children now a day, they will not get the same break during the day to play and socialize with their friends during the school day. School Districts in parts of the country have banned recess in its entirety claiming it is due to lawsuits and the frivolity of interrupting students’ studies to go outside and play.

Dr. Olga Jarrett, an associate professor at Georgia State University, is a supporter of continuing recess within schools because she believes from her research play is critical for healthy development and affects children not only socially and emotionally but also physically and academically. Children who do not get recess appear to often be more fidgety, less focused and off task. Dr. Jarrett even believes that the elimination of physical play among children is directly resulting in an increase in childhood obesity.

Dr. Jarrett fears the removal of recess in schools, seems to be in part from the idea that school is not the place from children to be playing and schools do not want to be bothered with the safety issues accompanied by allowing recess and having playgrounds. School systems and cities are attempting to decrease potential of lawsuits resulting from children playing at school.

A Long Island school banned footballs, baseballs, hard soccer balls, lacrosse balls, and rough games of tag and even cart wheeling during recess. They only allow the use of Nerf variety balls during recess, since they are softer and less prone to injuring students.  Weber Middle School in Port Washington, N.Y., asserted the changes in recess is because of the increase in playground injuries.

Timesunion.com, which covers upstate New York, reported that over the last year localities in the state paid upwards of $1 billion annually in order to settle different lawsuits. It is hard to ignore how recess injuries may have factored into the suits and may be why School Districts are attempting to eliminate recess.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2009 67% of playground falls involved equipment failure, 8% involved hazardous conditions unrelated to equipment, 7% involved collisions between children, 7% entrapments and 11% other.  Among equipment that are associated with common playground injuries are climbers, swings, slides and overhead ladders.

Children injuries most commonly reported as a result of playground injury are fractures, contusions, lacerations, and sprains.  54% of injuries tend to be associated with children under the age of 4 and are more commonly involving males. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported in 2009 that of the injuries reported 73% result in injuries that are treated and the child released, 3% require hospitalization and 3% resulted in death. Statistically there was a slight decrease in injuries from those of previously recorded between 1998-2000.

As a parent you want to look out for your child’s safety, but you also want to allow your child to grow and develop socially, creatively, and academically and be a kid. Accidents do happen and sometimes children are injured playing because of equipment, lack of supervision or various other reasons. We encourage healthy physical activity for children, but still must hold people accountable when they are hurt due to someone’s negligence. If you or a loved one has a child who has been injured during recess or playing either at a park or school playground due to faulty equipment call us today!

Wooten Kimbrough, P.A.



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