Cheerio to the Days of Banning Frilly Socks as Tripping Hazards


For a while, our cousins across the pond had a hard time distinguishing between the truly risky and and the truly ridiculous. Recall that in Britain last year, a bdbyezsbhd
school told a blind girl to stop using her cane, because it posed a tripping hazard
to the other kids.

This is also the country where many schools have banned tag, snowballs, and, in one case, frilly socks — a tripping hazard yet again. (Maybe Monty Python wasn’t exaggerating with those silly walks.)  And then there was that headmistress who blacked out the eyes of kids in the yearbook, so no one could cut out their heads and paste them into porn.

But now at last, as it had to, the pendulum is finally swinging back. (Duck!) Quoth The Telegraph:

Coping with risk and danger is crucial to a child’s education and should become a key part of the school curriculum, the chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive has said.

Dame Judith Hackitt, who has chaired the organisation for more than eight years, said children were suffering under an “excessively risk-averse” culture in schools, which was stifling their readiness for the real world.

She criticised the growing health and safety culture in schools, which she described as “nonsensical”, adding that children should be encouraged to climb trees and play games where there might be a risk of injury.

Hackitt made the comments during a speech to the Royal Academy of Engineering, in which she called on schools to put an end to top-down “bureaucratic” behaviour.

Hooray for Hackitt, who went on to say that if Britain wants to raise a generation of smart, self-reliant adults, it can’t keep dumbing down its kids by never letting them learn how to roll with some punches:

“We have reached a point where people expect to be looked after. We need to look out for ourselves and take responsibility for risk, not leave it to others.”

Coming, as this does, from the very agency that made Brits believe that almost everything was too dangerous for kids, this is an even more welcome turn. Then again, by the time you’re outlawing frilly socks, it’s hard to hold your head very high — or your lip very stiff. – L


Too scary for Britain? (Photo from Amazon:

Too scary for Britain? Perhaps not anymore!  (Photo from Amazon:


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16 Responses to Cheerio to the Days of Banning Frilly Socks as Tripping Hazards

  1. Crystal Kupper March 29, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    I live in England, and I can attest that the level of safety obsession is off the charts, FAR worse than when we lived in various places in America! And as far as expecting to be looked after, that is, in my opinion, a cultural thing — the government does EVERYTHING for them.

  2. Eliza March 29, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    Hm. I live in Scotland and my daughter’s state (public, free, etc) nursery visits the woods once a week. We cross a busy road and traipse up a big hill into the forest. Last week we lit a campfire. Kids are free to climb, explore, etc – only rule is to stay where you can see an adult, etc. The school provides waterproofs and boots so that all kids can go, regardless of preparedness, weather. The nursery is encouraged to do all of this.

  3. Workshop March 29, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    Someone exhibited common sense. Expect him to be sacked.

    But because there was outrage at the sacking, expect the person who did the sacking to be sacked.

  4. lollipoplover March 29, 2016 at 11:35 am #

    Can we ban FLIP FLOPS first???

    My dumba$$ husband needed to go to the ER on vacation for this footwear choice. Daughter also fell running in flip flops on same vacation but just busted her knees (and put holes in new pants!).

    I can’t see frilly socks (unless you’re a clown) causing a child to trip. Flip flops? Absolutely.

  5. lollipoplover March 29, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Also from the UK, and proof that no child can die in any accident without someone to blame is this:

  6. James Pollock March 29, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    The goal of child-rearing is to raise children, and, eventually adults, who can assess danger, estimate reward, and calculate their relative balance quickly and accurately and proceed accordingly. We don’t want children who are reckless (incurring needless injury to themselves and others), and we don’t want children who are paralyzed by excessive caution.

    Some of them are already good at this and should be left alone. Some are careless, and should be reined in. Some are risk-averse, and should be encouraged to try new things.

    As children, most of us did risky things that we would not do now as adults because we have learned wisdom. Yes, most of the time, most of us got away with it just fine, but that’s due to luck more than anything else.

  7. Dasy2k1 March 29, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    I’m in the UK and while everyone seems to love blaming the HSE (health and safety executive) for all of their killjoy actions and paranoid risk aversion it’s not usually the HSE at fault. (even the HSE say that as far as they are aware the only thing they ban outright with no exception is asbestos! (and you can still recover it for disposal with strict safety measures that are perfectly justified) )

    It is petty beurocrats and insurance companies afraid of ambulance chasers who come up with most of the ridiculous so called regulations

  8. John March 29, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m in the UK and whilst a lot of people blame the HSE (Health and Safety executive) they aren’t actually that bad. Have a look at their myth busting page at

    – they actively try and reduce incidents like the above!

    (I’m also a teacher… and kids play tag quite happily on our playground…)

  9. Vaughan Evans March 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    When I was born, the genes for perception did not get transmitted.
    Not until I was 24, was this fact discovered.
    This was good; I was encouraged to grow up “naturally” and find myself;f.
    When I was 8 I tried climbing a tree, but I couldn’t get down.
    Mother said, “If you are going to climb Up a tree, you will have to learn to climb down.
    Well, I DID learn.
    I became an excellent climber.

    When I was 23, I took Vocational Counselling.
    I was inn the 6th percentile mechanical comprehension and spatial visualization,
    Even so, I learned to do a lot of things that require a sense of space perception.
    Learning one’s way around, locating a place on a street map(, or road map, )tree-climbing, playing tag and hide-and seek, playing jacks are among the activities I did-which exercised that part of the brain-that deal with space perception.
    I know a teacher(who is aged 40.) She told me that many children she observed can’t learn to climb trees,s.
    They will try; but they can’t get up at all.
    Perhaps the reason for this-is that they haven’t exercised that part of the brain(enough)that deals with space perception.
    For the same reason, many children get “stuck”; they can’t climb down’ they have to be rescued.

  10. Papilio March 29, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

    “But now at last, as it had to, the pendulum is finally swinging back. (Duck!)”

    Or take a quack on the head?

  11. Havva March 29, 2016 at 5:21 pm #

    From the frilly sock article: “We had to fill in a health and safety risk assessment and it was clear these socks were a trip hazard.”

    That is where I think the bureaucracy makes people crazy, even if that isn’t the intent of the Health and Safety Executive. The forms imply every accident not only can be prevented, but should be.

    My state has accident reporting forms. Some accidents definitely deserve the paperwork and prevention plans they prompt. I read one report were a daycare I considered had a toddler drink bleach because someone brought it to the toddler room in a sippy cup! That sort of thing, makes me glad they had to fill out paper work and write, we will not transport bleach in sippy cups. We will dilute the bleach, to the strength we use, in the kitchen where it is stored. We will store our spray bottles in the kitchen and transport bleach water in the labeled bleach water spray bottles. Great. Make them think about that one, that was preventable.

    But this same form was filled out, and I was called, every time my daughter tripped over her own feet and got a minor bump, or skinned knee. Root cause … she was a toddler. But they had a line to fill out by golly! We can’t have toddlers learning to walk… I mean, getting boo-boos.
    And it got worse when she had a phase of nose bleeds. It is one thing when the action plan is tell the kids not to throw hard toys at faces. It is quite another when in their frantic efforts to prevent another incident they told all the kids to stay out of arm’s reach of my daughter. That was one form I would not sign. I told the teacher to go back and tell the kids it was okay to play with my daughter and that her nose bleeds were no one’s fault. And that their plan for prevention line should say that she has a condition that causes frequent nose bleeds, with or without provocation, and that her parents will continue to work with her doctor to treat her condition.

  12. Yocheved March 29, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

    I have come to the conclusion that these are First World Problems. The safer your society actually is, the more “fear” you need to balance it out. That’s why kids in America love horror movies, while I’m willing to bet that kids in Syria just want the horror to stop.

    A small amount of real fear in life is a good thing, it creates durability and flexibility. Living in a war zone is just as damaging as living in a padded hot house. Too much peace and quiet is not a good thing!

    Moderation in all things, is the wisest advice ever given.

  13. Elin March 30, 2016 at 4:20 am #

    Wow, I thought it was strange that the English school I visited as part of my teaching training banned hoop earrings. In my country they would never ban things like that. They might inform students of the risk of getting then snagged into something but students would still be allowed to wear them, you know, their ears their choice.

  14. Stacey March 30, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

    I think I’ll just put this quote on every post. From now on. Always.

  15. J.T. Wenting March 31, 2016 at 2:49 am #

    Frilly socks are not a tripping hazard, but they are something far worse: a fashion hazard…

  16. Papilio March 31, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    @Stacey: Even though Yocheved just said: “Moderation in all things, is the wisest advice ever given”?