In Nashua, N.H., an elementary school has informed parents and students that playground staples such as tag now constitute prohibited activity — and it isn't an isolated example.
Reminding parents of the school's safety policies, Charlotte Avenue Elementary School Principal Patricia Beaulieu said in a letter on the school's website that playing tag violates the school's longtime no contact rule for recess games.
According to Beaulieu, many schools have banned tag because of injuries. The letter to remind people about the school's policies was posted after several concussions, a broken wrist and other injuries, she said, adding that while she wants children to run, jump and play, it has to be in a safe way, reports The Telegraph of Nashua.
"I went into fifth-grade lunch and I was talking to all the fifth graders, and I said, âRaise your hand if you've ever been pushed aggressively while playing tag.' Most of them raised their hands,'' she told the paper.
Some parents are unhappy with the school's policy to ban tag. Bill Chisholm, the father of a fourth grader, said the rules are unnecessary.
ââTo ban tag is just ridiculous; it's a simple game,'' Chisholm said. ââThey say the kids are overly aggressive — take the overly aggressive kids out of the game. No parent wants to minimize the injury of a child; however, there isn't a single childhood activity that any kid could participate in that doesn't have the risk of injury,'' he said.
Nashua isn't the only city with overly-cautious schools. To keep students safe, Weber Middle School in Port Washington, New York, has decided to ban balls and require teacher supervision for games that could be consider risky, according to Ryan Jaslow of CBS News.
The middle school is banning footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, lacrosse balls or any other equipment that might harm a child. Students will be allowed to play with softer Nerf balls.
"Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected," said Dr. Kathleen Maloney, superintendent of Port Washington Schools.
In addition, the middle school requires coach or teacher supervision for rough games of tag — or for cartwheels. Children without protective gear may experience injuries ranging from bumps and scrapes to head injuries and concussions, the school says.
There was a 90% increase in the number of children admitted to emergency rooms with sports-related head injuries over the past decade, according to researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and schools have responded by restricting a broad range of play activities to reduce the risk of injury.
"While I believe that an outright ban on the use of athletic balls during sports activities is not warranted, adequate supervision of students during recess is critical to ensure safety," Dr. Robert Glatter, director of sports medicine and traumatic brain injury at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said.
Other school districts are also considering similar bans.