Playground swings may soon become a thing of the past for a school district in Washington state — the latest in a nationwide trend of schools riling parents while increasing safety.
The threat of impending lawsuits is causing the Richland School District to consider banning the “quintessential” toys. Spokesman Steve Aagaard said of the issue, “It’s a litigation issue, with kids falling off swings.” Schools are feeling pressure by insurance companies to remove the equipment, as they are blamed for most playground-related injuries.
Schools in Spokane have already taken swings out of all but two of their elementary school playgrounds. Swings in the remaining two schools are expected to be phased out within the next five years. The removal has been on-going for the past decade, as old, worn-out equipment is replaced, swing sets were simply taken out.
The swings have been phased-out in an effort to keep children safe.
“As schools get modernized or renovated or as we’re doing work on the playground equipment, we’ll take out the swings,” said Aagard. “It’s just really a safety issue. Swings have been determined to be probably the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground.”
Almost 200,000 children are admitted to the emergency room each year for playground-related injuries, many of whom had been walking too close in front of or behind a swing-set, according to statistics released from the CDC.
While playground-related deaths are rare, with 147 deaths reported between 1990 and 2000, they do happen. One three-year-old in Atlanta accidentally died from asphyxiation while using playground equipment.
In Vancouver, a 7-year-old girl died after falling off a swing set. The girl had not told anyone of her fall and complained to her father about feeling dizzy after walking home from school that day. After her brother later found her sick in her room, the family rushed the girl to Vancouver hospital where she was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and rushed to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where she later died.
In a statement, the family said they “want to thank the school and community for their thoughts and prayers as they honor our little girl’s memory and the gifts her tragedy will bring. At this time we are grateful for respect and privacy.”
Not everyone agrees with the move. Parent Jason Campbell told reporters for KHQ News that the move was “ridiculous,” going on to say, “I can’t imagine a playground without a swing set. Its something that seems so natural at a playground.”
However, many do agree with the removal. Parent Muge Kaineoz, whose daughter will be starting Kindergarten this year, is happy to see them go.
“When she starts elementary school, those swings can get crazy.”