Better safe than sorry. An expression Americans are exposed to and familiar with, especially parental figures. Adults who are new to the parenting game live by this guideline. A parent or guardian’s sole concern is the safety of their children. Their actions will probably be based on texts read or on first-hand experience, but instinctually, parents will play the safety game. It is this instinct and concern for young students’ safety that is causing school districts across the nation to review what recess-like games are appropriate in the elementary school setting. Games such as tag, dodge-ball, and football are a risk to student safety and should be removed from the public school system despite the developmental strengths the games possess.
School systems across the country (including those in New York, Virginia, Maryland, Maine, Ohio, Texas, and California) are reviewing the dangers of schoolyard play. Simply, the student-teacher ratio is far too great to effectively maintain a safe atmosphere for children to play in. 70% of accidents and injuries come from falling off equipment, which still leaves three in ten incidents relating to kids playing rough. Many school districts have already banned games on the playground that violate a “no-touch” policy. These games, however, are still allowed in the physical education aspect of the day, under close adult supervision. For the most part, each school is in charge of its own restrictions that will be enforced. The “no-touch” policy is a popular choice. The degree of restriction varies, but the general trend protecting safety is to allow no contact games; no pushing or grabbing; in football, no tackling or blocking; and, no games that can result in shouting and hurt feelings.
Aside from the chance of students getting hurt, parents and school board members are also concerned with potential bullying, the psychological strain some games encourage, and lawsuits from parents. The main psychological disorder emerging in young students is caused from being singled out on the playground. In games like tag, a student is “it.” Tag is a running game, so the slower children are more frequently “it.” If the same kids are “it” and are chosen last frequently for teams in other games, they eventually develop a low self-esteem disorder. This disorder can distract children from their schoolwork, as well as disrupt their social behavior and ultimately lead to below average performance in school and, in some cases, a depressive state.
Bullying is part of this problem of being singled out also. Bullies are usually the larger, stronger kids who exploit the weaklings of the schoolyard because they like to feel powerful, feared, and in a position of control. Bullies make a habit of picking on the same children, adding to the subconscious problems of failure that are already brewing. Bullying can be eliminated by adult supervision, but...