Last week, a Washington school district outraged parents after it banned tag in elementary schools, claiming the favourite recess pastime was too violent.
According to Washington’s Mercer Island School District, the “unstructured play deteriorated into name-calling, fighting and injury” during some incidents last year. Thus, to “ensure physical, emotional safety of students,” the district decided to ban the game altogether and replace it with a touchless version.
“We came up with the ‘hands off’ idea to help minimize negative physical interactions among elementary school children during recess or unstructured play,” superintendent Gary Plano said in a statement.
Despite the school’s intentions to keep children safe, their decision to ban tag surprised and outraged a number of parents. As a result, over 400 moms and dads joined a Facebook group called, “Support Tag at Recess in Mercer Island” to fight the district’s decision.
“I played tag. I survived,” said mom Melissa Neher. “In this day and age of childhood obesity, there’s a need for more activity. Kids should be free to have spontaneous play on the playground at recess. It’s important for their learning.”
Due to the backlash from parents, the school district reversed its decision on Friday, allowing tag to return to elementary school playgrounds. However, the district is still looking for ways to make the game less violent.
This isn’t the first time an activity involving physical contact was banned at schools. In 2012, a New Jersey middle school banned hugging because students were engaging in “unsuitable, physical interactions.” And in 2014, a Peterborough, Ontario, school banned students from high-fiving their crossing guards because it was considered a “safety issue.”
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