Free-Range Kids

Preschoolers Not Allowed to Play on Swings with Grass Underneath: Still Too Dangerous

Perfect safety is impossible.

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Swings
Anke Van Wyk / Dreamstime

It is better for pre-schoolers not to play on their new playground equipment at all—equipment resting on grass and dirt, not concrete—than to let them play without 6 inch-deep mulch underneath, according to regulations.

A pre-school in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, received the equipment as a donation, which seemed like a gift from heaven. But then it learned that it must keep the kids off the equipment until somehow the school gets a donation of $1,100, which is what the mulch will cost.

As Mark Price at the Charlotte Observer writes:

"The kids can't play on it," says Shannon McKnight, director of development for The Learning Collaborative. "It's a safety issue. It's required that you have a safety barrier surrounding anything that's a playground, which we can't afford yet."

The barrier she speaks of is not meant to be around the playground, but under it. Six inches of a special mulch is needed under the equipment, about 25 cubic feet.

This is the kind of regulation that makes you want to drag a bureaucrat out of the office to sit on the playground and watch exuberant little kids not playing.

While of course it makes sense to try to minimize injury, at some point our country has got to accept that zero risk, especially on a playground, is impossible. What's more, trying to achieve this unachievable goal (as we were discussing here yesterday) can actually backfire by, for instance, making kids less active. And less excited about school. Less joyous at recess. Less ready to learn. Less adept at assessing risk. Less resilient. Less ready for the world which is not carpeted in 6-inch-deep mulch.

The playground equipment is not resting on a bed of nails. It's on the ground, the same stuff kids have been raised on since the beginning of time. Some falls will happen and that's okay. Collectively, we have got to stop thinking of children only in terms of what could go wrong—worst-first thinking—and think about what goes right the vast majority of the time.

Otherwise, once some child breaks a limb despite the 6-inch-deep mulch, a new law named for that kid will require a depth of 8 inches, or 12 inches, or a bed of swan's down.

Not that I want to give the bureaucrats any ideas.

NEXT: The Obama Administration's Weak Excuses for Obamacare's Premium Hikes

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  1. So, about the home page pop-up you guys are about to deploy – please don’t.

    Anyway, you might want to look into it as its asking me for a password to http://Staging.Reason.Com. I can click though it though.

    1. I thought it was hackers.

      1. Those damn Russians.

        1. You’re probably right, it’s the Ruskies trying to rally us Trumpets to get out the vote.

    2. Damn, I just saw that and ignored it because I was sure it was a hack. I just closed it. My advice, do NOT sign into that. And it makes no sense because I was already signed in and still am. Are you sure Reason did that?

      1. Odds are there’s a bad link (image link, based on what I saw) in the pop-up that’s directing to staging.reason.com instead of reason.com. Since the staging site is password protected (basic auth? maybe), you get a popup asking you to sign in. You can cancel it (I saw a “bad image link” red x on the popup when I did that), and then just close the popup. Nothing nefarious, just a bad deployment.

        1. I closed it so quickly that I didn’t take time to analyze it. But that makes sense. Maybe we should sign on to their staging site and see if we can make some changes. I’ll do an edit feature and publish it to production. I’ll do it without pay!

    3. Yeah, I got that message too.

  2. Wow. I wish these nanny bots could have seen us when I was a kid, playing on our background swing sets. Only maybe 1 post set in concrete. So when we would try our best to swing completely back over the top bar, 2 of the other posts would come about a foot out of the ground. We managed to tip the entire thing over on a regular basis. Then there was the rusty monkey bars at the local playground, which were somewhat likely for a section to break off and impale you at any moment.

  3. When I was a kid, we played in a junkyard, around sharp rusty metal and broken glass. If I knew they didn’t have the required layer of mulch underneath, I would have raised hell.

    1. Yeah, I did the same with my cousins. Their dad worked at the yard. And there were 4 man eating german shepherd/wolfe hybrids in the yard.

    2. Seriously, without a 1-2 in. layer of fine lime or clay dust on the ground what are you supposed to rub into your wounds to stop the bleeding?

        1. Sadly, in my current station in life, I expected this.

        2. I had a friend step on a piece of glass in a river. The cut was deep. He is a good old boy, and cheap as well, so he didn’t want to pay for an emergency room visit. He went to CVS and was walking around the store, leaving a bloody trail across the aisles, asking them where the “stitching line” was. After they told him that he has to go to an emergency room, he grudgingly went. There, they told him they have to admit him and treat him. He was like “just give me the damn stitching line.”
          “Sir, we can’t give that to you, and we can’t let you leave.”
          “Well, I ain’t paying you,” he told them.
          In the end, they give him the suture thread and told him to never come back.

    1. I thought Ralph Nader’s photo had been edited out of the Great Progressive Encyclopedia.

      1. “Then Comrade Al Gore campaigned for higher safety standards for cars, after exposing the cruel capitalist conspiracy to make GM cars explode. Comrade Gore was hunted by corporate agents but destroyed them with his bare hands. Meanwhile, Comrade Gore’s traitorous lieutenant, Ralph Nader, was feeding information to GM about the best way to make their cars explode even more.”

        1. “Did I say Comrade Gore? I meant Comrade Hillary Clinton…no, please, it was only a careless mistake, don’t…”

        2. Well-done, Eddie.

  4. I was born in the 80s. How did I ever survive all the shit they have banned today?

    1. You didn’t, you’re like [SPOILER ALERT] Bruce Willis in Sixth Sense.

    2. Good thing you weren’t born in the 60s. Your chance of surviving both the 60s and 70s would have been about 10%. But most people I know made it through. With lots of trauma, but still alive. I had more than a few dirt bike crashes and still have the scars to show from them. And that’s not even the start of it. Back then boys did dangerous shit and that was normal.

      1. Back then boys did dangerous shit and that was normal.

        Yup. More than once I’ve joked about putting dirt in a wound and people have retorted with “OK, tough guy!”

        We didn’t do it to be tough, we did it so we didn’t get blood on our clothes or other people and have to stop playing. Also, depending on the adults and resources present, dirt was much preferable to the sterilization method du jour.

        1. Mercurochrome. Or Iodine. Both hurt like the dickens, but boy did they work.

          Fun Story: When Bactine was introduced in the sixties it was marketed as a revolutionary “ouchless” topical antiseptic. But people didn’t believe it worked because it didn’t hurt so they pulled it from the market, added a bit of ouch, and re-introduced it with much better sales.

          1. Yikes! I remember that awful shit. Our parents were sadist. On more than one occasion we were held down and forced to take castor oil because we were actually sick and couldn’t go to school.

      2. We used to play on the old railroad bridge, shinny down the support column that sat on a little island out in the river to go fishing or play in the water or whatever. My brother fell off and cracked his head hard enough to need stitches. Dad beat his ass. Because we were playing hooky from school at the time. Getting your ass beat does not cure a lumpy head, but it does cure you of ever falling off a bridge again, I’ll tell you that much.

  5. Preschoolers, not allowed to exist.

    1. For once a law I would agree with.

  6. I wish i could believe that this would result in more embryonic anarchists, but i know these kids are more likely to learn one of two lessons:

    1. The world is dangerous and i need to keep my head down, follow as many rules as i can, and go along to get along.

    2. Damn, making rules and/or enforcing them sure would be a great way for me to control other people.

  7. Soft pliable sod?? Dangerous!!

    Hard pointy pieces of wood?? Safety!!

    1. That’s kind of what I thinking too. Mulch really doesn’t like it would be that pleasant to fall on. Much less that grass/ dirt.

      1. *doesn’t sound*

        EDIT BUTTON!

    2. I’ll be the pedant today — we’ve used pine bark mulch (it’s more like chunks of soft wood with no sharp edges) under our swingset for years.

      Your point still stands.

    3. My thoughts too, unless “special mulch” means it is that rubber mulch.

  8. This is the kind of regulation that makes you want to drag a bureaucrat out of the office to sit on the playground and watch exuberant little kids not playing.

    Or mulch said bureaucrat in a wood chipper, feet first and donate the resultant mulch to the playground so it’s well and truly safe?

    If soylent green is made from people, perhaps special mulch is made from special people? I think we all know what kind of “special” people I’m referring to. The ones whose soft heads make the softest, safest mulch.

    1. That is the most beautiful thing I’ve read here in a long time. Thanks.

    2. Standing applause

  9. A pre-school in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina…

    See, you libertarians want poor kids to die because of lack or regulations and you don’t even want to pay for their medical care. POOR CHILDREN! [faints] /prog

  10. What’s more, trying to achieve this unachievable goal (as we were discussing here yesterday) can actually backfire by, for instance, making kids less active. And less excited about school. Less joyous at recess. Less ready to learn. Less adept at assessing risk. Less resilient. Less ready for the world which is not carpeted in 6-inch-deep mulch.

    But it will help make them into perfect subservient drones completely reliant on the State to take care of their every need or want.

    1. ^This. Seriously.

  11. The Charlotte Observer article doesn’t specify the type of mulch, but one of the comments to that article states that it’s because it is “mulch” made from shredded tires.

    And, predictably:

    Caroline Mcclain ? Kansas City, Missouri
    No it is not fun to get hurt on concrete. We have regulations for safety reasons. And if it is just mulch they need, get donation from farmer, business leaders, and PTA.

    1. And this is way kids these days grow into anxiety ridden depressive lunatics by the time they reach highschool/college. Then ban people from speaking at the college because they don’t like what they have to say.

    2. Caroline Mcclain, you ignorant slut. You know what else preschoolers don’t think is fun? Looking at brand new playground equipment that they’re not allowed to play on for reasons they can’t understand.

      1. Hopefully those kids will all turn into libertarians.

    3. Helicoptering soccer mom shits pants in comments section like the ignorant cunt she is. Film at 11.

  12. Perfect safety is impossible.

    Denier! The science is settled! The government and its Top Men can do anything! Anything I tells ya!

    1. Fact: all of those children are dead now. DEAD.

      1. Fact: You owe me a new keyboard not covered in iced coffee freshly spewed from my mouth and nostril’s!

        ILOL seriously.

    2. Many of those kids, the ones who survived the playground of death, probably ended up fighting in WW1. I wonder how the kids growing up in the current age of the safety regulation will fair when Hillary bumbles us into WW3?

      I’m not sure which is worse, the fact that they’re not allowed to use the new playground equipment because of a lack of fucking much, or the fact that new playground looks something like this.

    3. Damn, couldn’t they put a slide on the other side of just one of those ladders?

      1. Hook your feet and elbows over the edge and slide down! I suppose you want the swings to be less than 6.5 ft. off the ground so you can just leisurely sit down into them too?

  13. Perfect safety for kids isn’t even desirable. Kids need to learn that cuts and scrapes and bruises are not a big deal. Shit happens and it shouldn’t ruin your good time. I find it really distressing when a kid gets all pathetic over some minor injury. When I was a kid I went out of my way to hide minor injuries so I could keep playing.

  14. Our kids play on a playground covered with 6 inches of broken glass. That way, they can hear the child-molesting clown kidnappers sneaking up on them. How the hell the kiddies gonna hear child-molesting clown kidnappers sneaking up on them if you put down 6 inches of mulch? Why do you hate the chidren?

  15. Our grade school playground (mid-60’s) was right on the “blacktop”. At some point a girl was playing on the “Jungle Gym” and fell, hitting her head a a few of the bars on the way down and causing permanent damage. After that the equipment was surrounded by mulch (which obviously wouldn’t have helped this case).

  16. Mulch? What about splinters, ticks & snakes?

  17. A few years back, fark had a link to some Brit school which canceled its Easter weekend festivities for families because the grass was too rough and the kindergarteners and first graders might have fallen down and hurt themselves.

  18. When I was a kid, I got to visit the principal’s office halfway through the first day of first grade. Another kid decided to take from me the ball I was bouncing against the school wall. I punched him in the nose and he got a nosebleed. I got two swats with a wooden paddle and also learned my principal was a former Golden Gloves boxer. He always went out of his way to say hello to me while I was in grade school there. If we passed in the hall, Mr Weber would always say “hey Jimbo”. What a great guy. He got more than one opportunity to give me a few swats, but always explained first why I was getting them. He also always asked me for my side of the story and genuinely seemed to listen before making the final judgement. My judgement was often found lacking, but at least he heard me out. That was proper education in my humble opinion. Learn early that bad decisions can result in a painful outcome. I wasn’t traumatized, I was educated on the fine points of conflict resolution with and without physical violence. We routinely had low grade battles on the recess field, we played football about every day. Without pads or much direct supervision. Somehow we all survived every afternoon. We were pissed if we had to stay inside for recess due to rain or some such. The good old days indeed…

  19. Another kid decided to take from me the ball I was bouncing against the school wall. I punched him in the nose and he got a nosebleed. I got two swats with a wooden paddle… I was educated on the fine points of conflict resolution with and without physical violence

    Doesn’t seem like you were. The violent act of stealing your ball was properly met with the violent act of punching the kid in the nose. The principal gave you two whacks for not being a rat.

  20. This is the kind of regulation that makes you want to drag a bureaucrat out of the office and introduce him to the business end of a woodchipper.

  21. Dirty, arachnid infested mulch.

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