I visited the David Robinson Park earlier today to check on some improvements the city is making. I walked over the playground, just looking around, and thought of how much it has changed since my youth. I was struck at how “safe” it all looked, and was momentarily gratified that we, the City Board, had taken steps to protect children (and the city, from lawsuits) in the last several year.
Then it occurred to me that as adolescents and adults, we’re told that we need to push ourselves, push our boundaries. Should we allow children to push themselves? To push boundaries? To take risks? That made me think further and I found the article linked below. This quote is particularly interesting:
Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries — and the evidence for that is debatable — the critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.
“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground,” said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway.
What do you think? Should we ban the monkey bars, the jungle gym, pave the ground with rubber mats? Or, should we accept that a without providing our youth with some (controlled) risk, we’re perhaps doing them a disservice?