14 June, 2002

Erasing Childhood

Santa Monica, CA now officially scares me. The principal of Franklin Elementary School has banned.....tag. Yes, tag, the game where you run around like a little fool trying to smack some other fool, for the sole purpose of making them run around.

One thing I've noticed, is that everyone is jumping on the anti-PC bandwagon with this one, because they like to focus on this aspect of the story:

But there was that statement in the school newsletter that seemed to trigger the debate. In the third paragraph of an article titled "Safety on the Playground," the piece reads: "The running part of this activity is healthy and encouraged; however, in this game, there is a 'victim' or 'It,' which creates a self-esteem issue. The oldest or biggest child usually dominates."
And admittedly, that's a pretty good reason to bash these people. It creates a "self-esteem issue"? Well lah-dee-frickin'-dah! Life creates a self-esteem issue. While there is a lot I can say about this, I will sum it up with a quote from my 12th grade Civics teacher: "Life isn't fair".

But on to my gripe with this:

The issue arose May 27 when Samarge informed parents via a weekly school newsletter that tag would not be allowed. But the new restriction, contrary to how it has been interpreted by some, was not an outright ban. Indeed, tag and other chase games are still played on campus, but under the supervision of physical education teachers.
The new prohibition only applies during the lunch recess of the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school, when there aren't enough adult teachers and volunteers on duty to ensure that the game will be safely played, said Samarge. In the past school year, tag and other chase games have been responsible for two concussions, a couple broken bones and countless bumps, bruises and scrapes among the students, she added. (For similar reasons, flag football was also forbidden during recess but, like tag, is played during physical education classes.)
So basically it boils down to: Little Johnny has the potential to get hurt, so let's make sure that can never happen. And to that I say, what the fuck? This is what happens to kids. They get hurt. They run around. They fall down. They do all kinds of stupid things. And they end up with cuts, scrapes, bruises and yes, even a broken bone or two.

I'll admit, I've been lucky and have never broken a bone, but I've done just about everything else. I got my thumb jammed in an electric pencil sharpener, for which I still have scars. I sliced up a couple of fingers with electric grass clippers. I handled broken glass. I probably have a scar on my head from when my first cat attempted to rip out a chunk of skin while fleeing from me. And you know what? I'm alive. I know that seems pretty damn obvious, seeing as how I'm typing this right now, but I just figured I would clarify the situation for some people. Obviously, I'm not extremely proud of some of these things I did as a kid, but it was all a part of growing up. Another quote, this time from Calvin's dad: "It builds character."

So what was my point? Ah yes: Stop taking away these kids' childhoods. All this is going to do is screw up their adult lives. If Little Johnny never gets to experience the thrill of digging a great big gash in his leg while tripping over his own two feet running around the school ground, what is he going to do when trips over his own two feet and digs a large gash in his leg on his way to work one day? Oh yeah, I forgot, he's going to sue someone for making him hurt.

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