A Washington School District that stirred controversy after imposing a tag ban has reinstated the game on the playground.
Mercer Island School District officials had prohibited tag from being played during recess after considering it too violent. They had introduced this measure as part of their “hands off” policy, which discourages close contact between pupils especially during recess and unstructured time.
According to Superintendent Gary Plano, the tag ban was meant to teach kids to respect each other’s personal space, while promoting greater tolerance in spite of differences. Professors had feared that this type of child’s play may result in older and stronger students bullying others, and causing them physical and emotional harm.
Parents were informed about this new safety measure by Lakeridge Elementary’s principal. As a result, they contested the decision, and asked for the popular game to be re-introduced, emphasizing the fact that they were never consulted in advance regarding the ban.
They also insisted that occasionally getting hurt on the playground is a common occurrence during childhood, and this allows their offspring to grow and learn from their actions.
A Facebook page was also created, as a show of appreciation and support for the playground game. In less than 24 hours, more than 400 people joined the cause, insisting that tag is inoffensive and that forbidding it could only be detrimental to their children.
Some pointed out that kids are in bad need of physical exercise, at a time when obesity rates are excessively high. Others praised the game for its positive effects on the mental well-being of their offspring, suggesting “unstructured playtime” is essential at that age.
In response, school officials maintained that tag games had resulted in a series of unpleasant incidents last year, such as fighting, name-calling and minor injuries. Therefore, they proposed introducing a safer version of the game, which would be less violent and less likely to cause brawls and bullying.
Eventually the ban was lifted completely, motivated by the fact that the decision “lacked stakeholder participation and support”. Now the game is back on the school’s playgrounds, but the principal still plans to consult with parents and staffers in order to establish stricter guidelines for its recess activities.
This isn’t the first time that games have been banned from school premises after being considered too dangerous for students. For example, some school districts forbid students from doing cartwheels without the supervision of a coach, while others have urged musical chairs to be banned because they encourage exclusion.
Superhero play has also been discouraged for favoring an overactive imagination, while other schools have banned games like cops and robbers, because they involve “imaginary weapons”. In addition, other games like “duck, duck, goose”, red rover or dodgeball have been criticized for being too violent.
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