Kids Protest Safety Rule at School

A little child (or two) shall lead us!  

Tamati Sagar and Aaron Jones (both 10) love climbing trees, but the practice is banned for safety reasons.

The duo surveyed all the school’s parents and found about 90% of them were in favor of allowing their children to climb trees during break times.

The boys prepared a pie chart on their findings and presented it to the board of trustees and school staff.

Board members were so impressed they relaxed the school rule three weeks ago, and children are now enjoying the freedom to climb trees in the playground.

Of course, this story does not come to us from America. It’s from The Otago Daily News in New Zealand, where I’ll bet there are more sheep than lawyers. And not only are the kids at this school now climbing, one of them already fell out of a tree and had to be airlifted  to the hospital. This is terrible, of course, and yet:

”The mum said her son is fine, and that his doctors were pleased to hear children are climbing trees, and that we should continue to do it.

”Yes, there has been an accident, but kids are supposed to have accidents. That’s how we learn from things.”

I may have to be airlifted myself, I am in such a state of shock. The mom, the kids, and the school district all seem to understand that just because something bad happens, it doesn’t mean we should never do it ever again under any circumstances! Instead, together they came up with a new rule about how high the kids should climb.

It’s almost like rationality, cooperation and optimism have taken hold.

Get me my smelling salts! – L. 

Climb me!

Climb me!

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33 Responses to Kids Protest Safety Rule at School

  1. Warren August 28, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    This is fantastic, and can be used as a template for others. Say like the Mom that wants her son to ride his bike to school.

  2. Peter August 28, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    This is an outrageous outbreak of common sense. If the children are having fun someone must stop it at once.

  3. Havva August 28, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    That is excellent. I think supporting our kids to speak up will be a key tool. After all, it is their rights to do all manner of things that is being taken away.

  4. James Schultz August 28, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    When I was a kid, we had monkey bars over concrete. I can see how that was a bit much. But we have gone so far the other way that we aren’t letting kids experience the things they need to actually GROW UP.

  5. Aimee August 28, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    My 13-yr-old jumped out of a tree a couple of weeks ago, slipped, fell, and broke his wrist. Nuisance, yes. Some medical bills, yes. Crisis, no. As he explains it, “The flight was great, but I didn’t stick the landing.”

  6. Douglas John Bowen August 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Hooray! Not everyone can perch on the bow of a Titanic, but when you’re up in a tree, for a short time you can be “king of the world.” Sometimes even later, when you’re no longer a kid.

  7. Jill August 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I remember in 3rd grade when Jeremy Nelson fell out of a tree and got a compound fracture with a bone sticking out of his arm, which was dangling like a noodle.

    IT WAS THE COOLEST THING EVER!!! And he got to be the big man on campus for a good two weeks showing off his cast. And we were all envious because he got a *green* cast and he had people signing messages on it.

    We all wanted a green cast, too.

    And so goes the mindset of the average 9 year old. Nine year olds don’t care about safety-schmafety. They just want to climb trees and show off battle scars. Kudos to this school!!

  8. Anna August 28, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    I don’t think most American school playgrounds even have trees… Probably so kids won’t be tempted to climb them.

  9. John August 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    I LOVED climbing trees when I was a youngster growing up in the mid-1960s. Our neighbors, who were also my aunt and uncle, had an old messy willow tree at the edge of their yard towards ours (My dad HATED that damn messy willow tree and would always pester uncle Bob to chop it down!). But I loved climbing it and would worry my mother to death! A couple of times I nearly fell out of it but my mom also recognized the fact that I was a boy who loved doing boy things so she put up with the stress.

    Nowadays in America, if a kid fell out of a tree he was climbing and hurt himself, Child Protective Services would get involved and the parents would be arrested for child neglect. Primarily because the courts ALWAYS err on the side of “protecting” the child despite of the fact that accidents WILL happen and children WILL get hurt and it will NOT scar them for life but toughen them up instead!

    We need more Judges in these “child abuse/neglect” cases with common sense and gutsy enough to throw these cases out instead of always siding with CPS no matter how ridiculous the charge. But due to America’s obsession with the OVERprotection of its youth, it’ll probably be a snowball in hell’s chance of a Judge ever doing that. :-(

  10. BL August 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    If it hadn’t been for tree-climbing, I wouldn’t have had a childhood.

  11. Glen August 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    American school playgrounds would have a fake tree, rubberized mulch beneath it, and rope tie-ins, with mandatory helmets, knee and elbow pads required.

    This is what I call artificial fun. Real fun is when there is risk, danger and adventure. Congrats to the two 10 year old boys for winning this victory.

  12. Warren August 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    Daddy’s belt
    Mama’s drapes
    Standing tall on the backyard shed
    Lookin’ cool in my Superman cape

    I told the neighborhood girls,
    said “Hey y’all, watch this!”
    My fate was a broken arm
    My reward, one big kiss

    When Daddy asked me why I did it
    I made him laugh out loud
    When I told him ’cause the chicks dig it

    Scars heal
    Glory fades
    And all we’re left with all the memories made
    Oh yeah, pain hurts
    But only for a minute
    Life is short so go on and live it
    ‘Cause the chicks dig it!

    Yes it is a song, but hell if it ain’t the truth. lol….

  13. Emily August 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    @Warren–That is a good song–I’m listening to it right now. It’s almost like an unofficial “Free Range” anthem.

  14. JP Merzetti August 28, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Climbing the old white pine down at the bottom end of the schoolyard, just beside the baseball diamond.
    40 feet up, right where the trunk is thin enough to wrap your arms around and hang on tight.
    Up where the wind feels free, where you close your eyes and let the sway rock you like a cradle.
    And that game of “parachute”…..where the perfectly chosen northern poplar, just the right height – skinny little branches up near the top…carefull footholds….throw yourself sideways and the tree bends over slowly, gently, and drops you back down to the ground, coming down just like a parachute.
    That’s how kids know trees.
    Climbing for the perfect apple. A quick peek at a robin’s egg. A view across the world.
    That’s how trees know kids.

  15. Papilio August 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    @John: “I LOVED climbing trees when I was a youngster”

    So did I! Hence my tiny remark: tree climbing is not a ‘boy thing’ per se :-)

  16. Papilio August 28, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Full disclosure: I STILL like it. My parents have a prunus cerasifera in the garden, and when the fruit is ripe, up I go 😀

  17. Coasterfreak August 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    Man, it’s been ages since I climbed a tree, but I sure loved it when I was a kid. We had a large maple tree in our front yard that was fun to climb and I spent all kinds of time up there. Not only was it a place I liked to play, but it was my hiding place when I was angry and wanted to be left alone. I knew that tree so well I probably could have climbed it with my eyes shut.

    That tree is gone now because there were two of them in the front yard and they got so big one of them had to go. By that time we didn’t live in the house any more and I don’t know why the owners chose to cut that one down instead of the other, but I do know their young son was devastated because it had become “his” tree. Every time I visit the old neighborhood (I still have relatives on that same street) I get a little choked up when I drive by and see it missing.

  18. CLamb August 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    The best time to climb trees is when you are young. The older one gets the more massive and brittle a person’s body becomes. It’s great that the school permits the young to enjoy the benefits of youth.

  19. Mike August 28, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    “Of course, this story does not come to us from America. It’s from The Otago Daily News in New Zealand, where I’ll bet there are more sheep than lawyers”

    That’s true here as well. There are 310 million sheep in this country disguised as people.

  20. cheryl August 28, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    why “of course this doesn’t come from America”? I have worked in public education for almost 40 years. The years I was at elementary schools the kids were allowed to climb trees up to a certain point.

  21. lsl August 28, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    a couple of years ago, my nephew fought a tree & won. except he was 10 feet up when the tree fell, & ended up breaking his collarbone. he missed out on the camping trip with his sisters the next weekend, but otherwise things turned out fine.

  22. hineata August 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    @Mike – so what sort of wool yield do they produce, lol :-). With that many, am surprised this country is still in business…

    Yes, Lenore, way more sheep than lawyers – we’ll leave that to y’all. These kids are great – I wish we could get kids to tree-climb at our school, but the trees are too spindly – they’ll have to wait for the next generation.

  23. hineata August 28, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

    Also, and I really am not meaning to start the ‘gun’ debate, but is it just a coincidence that America seems to be cossetting its youth so much that people have lost sight of what actually constitutes danger?

    I mean, climbing a tree – ordinary childhood ‘danger’

    Firing an Uzi – a bit ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ childhood danger, to put it mildly.

    Are we losing the ability to assess risk? How many Americans from more common sense generations counted using automatic weapons as part of childhood? Or did y’all just use BB guns and .22s like we did? The largest weapon I remember trying to lift and sight was a 303 I think, but it wasn’t loaded – my dad reckoned the recoil would be too much.

    Let’s get back to kids having kid experiences, like roaming and tree climbing, camping, horse riding, and, regarding weapons and tools, making slingshots or using knives or 22s etc.

  24. Mandy August 29, 2014 at 12:33 am #

    Climbing trees is definitely not just a boy thing. I loved climbing trees as a girl. Now I’m too aware of how it will feel if I break. Never fell out, but my sister did. She was always braver and climbed higher.

  25. Sharon August 29, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    My daughter used to climb trees with one of our neighbors who was also a girl. Some of my other neighbors would worry they would fall on land or water (it is possible but highly unlikely the latter). I pass by the tree on my walks now myself and the other little girl doesn’t live in our area. It was definitely part of my daughter’s childhood.

  26. Warren August 29, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    One thing far too many parents do these days, is transfer their fears onto the kids.

    Anything from fear of heights, water, dogs and so on. They have to suck it up, keep their mouths shut, and let the kids learn. Making a your kid afraid of something, just because you are is a real disservice.

  27. John August 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Well Mandy, let’s just say, in MY day it was MOSTLY a boy thing! 😉

  28. Christine August 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Our school is similar. The kids can’t pick up or play with sticks or rocks, throw snowballs. I don’t know what the poor kids are supposed to do a recess and lunch … play on their iPhones?? I think the schools are just so scared to getting sued or a child being hurt that instead of having decent supervision and dealing with those children who hurt others on an individual basis it is just easier to just outright ban these activities.

  29. SKL August 29, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    I liked your last few sentences. People act like I might be missing part of my motherhood equipment if I act like kids getting hurt (or otherwise in a bind) is not a terrible thing. Wouldn’t it be worse if their first real mishap occurs in college or at work or in their marriage?

    The reaction of others is usually “now you know you must not let them do that again.” (Whatever they were doing when the mishap occurred.) Well, that’s great – now that they’ve experienced failure and probably learned from it, don’t let them try again and experience success next time! God forbid! Teach them that one single failure proves they are hopelessly incompetent. That ought to solve the world’s problems!

  30. KH August 30, 2014 at 6:11 am #

    My daughter tried to jump INTO a tree on our New Zealand holiday a few years back. She missed… the emergency room visit, the surgery to straighten the arm and the cast were ALL FREE because it was a certifiable accident– they have a special insurance fund for medical treatment due to accidents.

    So, scary as it was, at least there was no scrambling to pay upfront, arguing with the insurance company or need to sue the park to be able to pay the bills.

    I can’t help thinking there is a connection here…

  31. chris August 30, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    I climbed a tree infront of my grampa’s house from a young age – I think it helped me develop in many ways!

  32. no rest for the weary August 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Drink it in, Lenore. There IS some sanity, somewhere, in some little corner of the world.

    Thank you for doing what you are doing to help bring that sanity into the North American conversation.


  33. Kiwimum September 2, 2014 at 1:58 am #

    Yup KH there surely is a connection. In New Zealand we made the national decision years ago that a lawsuit lottery was no way to deal with accidents. So although we do have a lot of lawyers – not a single one is a personal injury lawyer, because you can’t sue for personal injury.