July 19, 2005

No Fun For You!

The Playground Nazis descend on Broward County, Florida:

"It's too tight around the equipment to be running," said Safety Director Jerry Graziose, the Broward County official who ordered the signs. "Our job was to try to control it."

How about swings or those hand-pulled merry-go-rounds?

"Nope. They've got moving parts. Moving parts on equipment is the number one cause of injury on the playgrounds."


"Nope. That's moving too."


"Well, I have to be careful about animals" turning them into litter boxes.

Cement crawl tubes?

"Vagrants. The longer they are, the higher possibility that a vagrant could stay in them. We have shorter ones now that are made out of plastic or fiberglass."

As a matter of fact, I don't blame this poor guy. As the article makes clear, he's playing defense. Take a guess at the real gunners:

Since 1999, Broward County schools paid out about $561,000 to settle 189 claims for playground accidents, about 5 percent of the amount the district spent on all injury claims in that time. To keep those numbers low, Graziose said, he needs to keep thinking of ways to make playgrounds safe.

Broward County School Board member Robin Bartleman understands the pressure Graziose is under, even though the playground at Everglades Elementary in Weston makes her 6-year-old daughter's face droop into a formidable pout.

"To say `no running' on the playground seems crazy," said Bartleman, who agreed to be interviewed on a recent outing at Everglades. "But your feelings change when you're in a closed-door meeting with lawyers."

'Zactly. Sanity and restraint have to start with parents not automatically going for the draw every time they think something's happened to little Joey. This isn't just a playground thing, but is endemic to all aspects of school. Buh'lieve me - I'm on the Board of the Llama-ettes' school and even though it's private and has considerably more leeway than the public system, the possibility of lawsuits always lurks in the background, no matter what the issue.

Yips! to Michael Graham in the Corner.

Posted by Robert at July 19, 2005 11:46 AM | TrackBack

May I suggest outsourcing play time?

Posted by: tee bee at July 19, 2005 01:26 PM

G*ddamn lawyers. Oh, sorry.

Posted by: The Colossus at July 19, 2005 01:27 PM

I was with the family in Western Pennsylvania couple years ago and we went by a playground with teeter-totters. Teeter-totters!! Awesome! My kids didn't even know what they WERE.

Posted by: dave s at July 19, 2005 03:17 PM

I crushed my arm by falling off an overhead bars on the elementary school play ground when I was in third grade. Two months in the hospital, three operations and six months in a body cast! My parents didn't even think of suing...
When my oldest was in nursery school my mother came to visit. She watched him on the overhead bars and remarked "how can you stand to see him on the bars? Why don't you lure him off there with a cookie!"

Posted by: babs at July 19, 2005 07:17 PM

We need some way to have playground designers and equipment makers use prudent good sense without bringing in John Edwards. He wasn't wrong that swimming pool manufacturers needed to think about what would happen to little girls who sat on the outflow from a pool. And I have seen swimming pool drains shaped in ways which make it less likely that they will suck out a little girl's guts through her anus, since his seventeen million dollar win, and that's a good thing.

On the other hand, lawsuit terror on the part of all public officials results in a totally sanitized and uninteresting childhood, and every child being like Victoria's grandchildren, walking through a park with a pillow around every tree. We surely do NOT have the right balance now.

Posted by: dave s at July 19, 2005 07:36 PM
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