Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. -- Winston Churchill

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. -- Galileo Galilei

I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell. -- Harry Truman

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Location: Wichita, Kansas

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Save the Children!

Tag is bad for children. At least that is what a number of schools have decided in Washington, California and Wisconsin, that have banned the game from the playground. Thank goodness, it is about time educators began to recognize the dangerous practice too long tolerated as innocent play. Principals and educators correctly point out that tag is physically dangerous, forces children to participate by their being tagged, and engenders negative feelings because the game has winners and losers.

One of the schools is only partially on board, allowing a modified version under supervision in gym class. They justify this by saying children are not allowed to run, and can't touch each other, tagging only with a nerf ball. This half measure should not be tolerated. Tender self-images and psyches are still at risk. "There's potential for some victimization," said Mary Beth Klotz, a psychologist with the National Association of School Psychologists. It's comforting to know we have such clear minds advocating for our children.

Now that tag is is finally on it's way out of childhood experiences, we should take this important crusade further. School officials have long neglected the evils of “Ring Around the Rosie”. It is well known that the verse is based on the Black Plague. The "ring around a rosie" refers to the round, red rash that is the first symptom of the disease. The phrase "a pocket full of posies" alludes to carrying flowers to mask stench, "Ashes" of course means the ashes of burning bodies, and "we all fall down" describes the many dead resulting from the disease. It's time we banned this awful dance of death on playgrounds. The damage it has reeked on children is staggering.

Next, there is the horrible game of “Blind Man's Bluff”. That we should allow such an insult to the visually challenged is scandalous. The psychological consequences of sensory deprivation causes severe mental and emotional stress on a child. The other children in the game learn cruelty and insensitivity to those less physically able than themselves. The danger entailed in having children move about with their eyes shut is even worse. Any activity that puts our children at such a high risk of injury should be eliminated. There is also of course the issue of school liability to consider.

Clearly, we are in need of a national commission to study the issue of playground behavior, which could formulate guidelines for acceptable play and model policies on games to be prohibited. Our children deserve nothing less. The report of the commission findings can provide the basis for national legislation to protect the psycho-social development and physical safety of children across the country.

Get involved now by demanding action from local school boards, state education boards, the federal Department of Education, and your Congressman and Senators. You can make a difference, so join the cause now. After all, child's play is no laughing matter.

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