Crossing Guard Ordered to Not “High Five” Students

Canadian school crossing guards who high-five students have been ordered to stop this obviously super-dangerous practice. According to GlobalNews:

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Jones, Peterborough’s manager of transportation, said the city is standing by its policy that bans any sort of physical interaction between crossing guards and the children.

“Their main priority is to monitor traffic, to direct traffic and to make sure the kids are safe at the crossing and they need to devote their attention to those duties,” said Jones, who said about 10 people were at the protest.

He said the guards were recently reminded of the policy after city officials noticed a couple of situations where high-fiving could have been considered dangerous, including one where a child high-fived a guard’s sign in the middle of a crossing.

“That’s just the type of situation where that could have resulted in a slip and a fall in the middle of a busy roadway,” he said.

To not trust crossing guards to be able to figure out how to cross the students without getting them killed seems to be taking a rather dim view of those in this profession. We’re talking about maybe 45 crossing guards in this Ontario town.

The functionary in the video below stresses that he just doesn’t want the high-fiving to “escalate.” As if it’s nuclear stockpiling.

Really, how bored do you have to be to start imagining high five escalation?

Is this the aftermath of a crime?

Is this the aftermath of a crime?

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46 Responses to Crossing Guard Ordered to Not “High Five” Students

  1. Doug January 7, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    This supports my theory that (1) Canada is clearly one of the world’s most dangerous countries, and does nothing to disprove my other theory that (2) Canadians love doughnuts.

  2. BL January 7, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    Once again, real life imitates The Onion.

    It’s getting hard to tell the difference.

  3. Neil M. January 7, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    I think it’s sweet and proof that people of different cultures and nationalities can come together in common cause: to suspect the worst of every one and every thing.

  4. deltaflute January 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    My crossing guard operates at an intersection with a pedestrian crossing light (and a motorist stop light). I love her to pieces, but outside of it giving someone a job, I have no idea why she is needed. Older kids should know not to jay walk. Younger children are expected to be with other adults walking them to and from school. I realize that the other crossing guards operate at locations without a light so its a good idea to have them there to direct traffic, but I can just as easily push a button and cross when its indicated.

  5. Alexander January 7, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Even in the worst case scenario proposed here (which is a kid slipping and falling in the middle of a busy road way), the damage is minimal to non existant. Presumably, all of the traffic is stopped waiting for the kids to cross already. The kid will just get up and keep walking.

    Are they expecting people to accelerate suddenly when a kid falls? Is their town full of sociopathic lunatics that are too afraid to run over a kid that’s upright but will run the kids over if they fall? What exactly is the problem?

  6. BL January 7, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    “Younger children are expected to be with other adults walking them to and from school.”

    We walked to school in kindergarten. Only on the first day did any of our parents walk us.

    We had safety patrol boys. The youngest were fourth-graders.

  7. AmyO January 7, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    Further proof that many people just don’t have enough to do to fill their time.

  8. Abigail January 7, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    @BL, I have to be present in Kindergarten for my son to be released. School policy!

    I wish we had a crossing guard for the high school students, they are EVERYWHERE!

    I think the real bummer here is that we really are lowering our expectations of adult drivers paying attention in school zones. Parents picking up their kids are a greater danger to me in a crosswalk than a slip or fall would ever constitute!!

  9. V January 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    How sad—my daughter’s elementary crossing guard oversees a crazy intersection. Not only does he rule over some very unruly drivers, he also high fives, hugs, helps zip coats, ties shoes, smiles, and generally makes all the kids and any parents/teachers also walking in feel great. If the crossing guards are not allowed to do this, install a darned traffic light and don’t bother with a person!

  10. Cassandra January 7, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    Boy, I wonder what they would think of our elementary school where the 2 crosswalks are monitored by 4th and 5th grade crossing guards…..Proud to say my 5th grade son is one and my 4th grader will be one when they start training in a couple of months (trained by the current 5th graders not adults).

  11. MichaelF January 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    I’m betting its more the fear that high five’s will lead to touches, which we all know is bad, and since these are people near kids they are suspect of having naughty thoughts. Bad thoughts and high fives are just bad…mmm..’kay so no more high fives. Or thoughts. Cause they are bad.

  12. Beth January 7, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    And, MichaelF, I hope none of these crossing guards are men, because you KNOW the only reason a man would get a job assisting children.

  13. SJH January 7, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    Alexander’s comment made me laugh so hard I have tears in my eyes!

  14. Peter January 7, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Is their town full of sociopathic lunatics that are too afraid to run over a kid that’s upright but will run the kids over if they fall?

    Well, yeah. If the kids are standing up, they can mess up the front grille. If they’re flat on the ground, it’s more like a speed bump.

  15. Jill January 7, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    Why not prevent children from attempting the dangerous practice of walking by moving them from one location to another through pneumatic tubes? Make the tubes small enough in diameter so grown men can’t fit into them and voila you have a safe, predator-free mode of kid transport!

  16. Donald January 8, 2015 at 12:32 am #

    Have a big organization to run? Take bureaucracy.

    Possible side effects are:
    Tunnel vision
    Short sightedness
    Uncontrollable desire to create as many regulations as possible.
    Follow regulations no matter how petty or ridiculous
    Having your head in your a$$

  17. Edward January 8, 2015 at 1:51 am #

    Clearly the only people with impure thoughts in their minds concerning these situations are the ones formulating the policy – so…why do they still have jobs?

  18. Donna January 8, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    Usually when Lenore posts these things, I can at least see the safety concern, even if I do think it is ridiculous. In this case, I have no clue. What exactly is the fear? That people are so horrible that they will try to run through the intersection if the crossing guard’s attention is distracted by even .000000000000000000001% (about the amount of attention it takes to high five)? That any child whose attention is distracted from the act of walking by even .0000000000000000001% is likely to be incapable of doing it and trip over air? I’m clueless.

    And if they are allowed no physical interaction whatsoever, why does it matter? Apparently even if a car came barreling through the intersection and the crossing guard saw it (but only because that .0000000000000000001% attention was not distracted), he would not be allowed to touch the child to yank him or her out of the way.

  19. marie January 8, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    I have to be present in Kindergarten for my son to be released. School policy!
    I wish we had a crossing guard for the high school students, they are EVERYWHERE!
    I think the real bummer here is that we really are lowering our expectations of adult drivers paying attention in school zones. Parents picking up their kids are a greater danger to me in a crosswalk than a slip or fall would ever constitute!!

    Maybe the real bummer is that we have too many cars around the school at drop-off and pick-up times. If more kids walked/biked, cars would be less of a problem.

  20. lollipoplover January 8, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    “Maybe the real bummer is that we have too many cars around the school at drop-off and pick-up times. If more kids walked/biked, cars would be less of a problem.”

    EXACTLY.
    If safety was really the top priority, they would find ways to let children walk or bike to school in car-free zones. The Crossing Guard and the children are not the problem.
    It’s distracted, impatient drivers who don’t obey crosswalks (or bus lights) and speed around schools trying desperately to get Apple to her baton class on time. Focus on THEM, not the crossing guards who high five the children they safely cross daily and care about.

    He just doesn’t want the high-fiving to “escalate.”
    To what? Secret handshakes and gang signs?
    Fist bumps?
    Do they think the crossing guard will deliver a smackdown high-five that will knock the child off balance to fall in the middle of the road and cars will try to speed up and hit for extra points? I guess when you are trapped in your car stuck at an crosswalk and never venture out as a pedestrian, these [email protected] crazy scenarios could infest your brain.

    How can someone ban high-fives?
    Effective immediately, only air fist bumps.
    But no eye contact. Things could escalate into an actual conversation.

  21. pentamom January 8, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    “EXACTLY.
    If safety was really the top priority, they would find ways to let children walk or bike to school in car-free zones.”

    There are four elementary schools (three public, one parochial) fronting directly on one of the busiest streets in this city. I’m not sure how kids are supposed to be able to walk in a “car free zone” when the street the school is on has dozens of cars a minute passing at those times of day. And it being urban, lots of kids do walk, though probably more are picked up than is necessary. People do generally respect the school zone speed limits and so forth on the busy street — it’s all the pickup cars circling like vultures on the side streets that probably pose more danger.

  22. lollipoplover January 8, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    @pentamom- our school is on the busiest highway in town that is always congested. We have two walking and biking trails that connect the school with the neighborhoods behind and children have one road to cross before they are on car-free paths. The walking path has a crossing guard but the biking path does not. The older kids (they’re called line leaders) pick up the younger students from their classrooms at dismissal in a biker/walker line depending on which path they use. My oldest daughter is a line leader and hasn’t missed a day of school this year because she loves this responsibility. The school also staggers dismissal to have walkers leave first, then buses, then car pick up last.
    The parent pick-up is by far the most inconvenient and time consuming and that encourages many families to walk or bike (we do). But I’m still amazed at how many parents and students go through a 20-30 minute ordeal to drive back and forth and sign them out when they could have biked the same distance in 5 minutes.

  23. Warren January 8, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    And the virus spreads and spreads and spreads.

    Within a decade, children will look like mindless droids marching from one vehicle to the next to attend strictly controlled, scheduled, and regulated programs.

  24. Donald January 8, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    Use it or lose it. Bureaucracy is made so that regulations and procedures are complied with without thought. The system makes it so that you don’t think. Use it or lose it. However bureaucrats can focus so much on that that they lose the ability to think.

  25. Sylv January 8, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Don’t you know that the drivers stopped at the crosswalk are waiting for the slightest wavering of the stop sign held aloft by the crossing guard. Just like drag racers, they wait for hat sign to dip just the slightest bit, and then race the car next to them for pink slips. You’ve all seen that movie, right? Or was that the pretty girl’s scarf that dropped? I am so confused!!

  26. Donna January 8, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    “He just doesn’t want the high-fiving to “escalate.”
    To what?”

    Come on now, you know high-fiving is just a gateway touch. Next thing you know they’ll say hello. Then they’ll move onto conversations. Once they are talking, the crossing guard may learn the child’s name. Then all bets are off as to where the relationship will go from there. Clearly all this high fiving is really just the beginnings of grooming.

  27. Nadine January 8, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Alexander, when then kid fell it was hurt and then it’s the obligation of the people around it to end it’s missery. So the only humane solution is to step on the gass.

  28. Gary January 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    “The functionary in the video below stresses that he just doesn’t want the high-fiving to “escalate.”

    Tonight on the WTF11 News at 10, How a crossing guard went from high-fiving to ass slapping and “Good Game” to those under his care and what outraged parents and Administrators have to say about this disturbing escalation in human interaction…

  29. marie January 8, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    From the video: “issues with physical contact”

    That’s the real point here. The stuff about kids falling and crossing guards getting distracted? That’s just the pretty wrapping. The real message is that adults are not allowed to touch children.

    Why am I wondering if one of the crossing guards is a man?

  30. lollipoplover January 8, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    “Come on now, you know high-fiving is just a gateway touch.”

    Yes, this basic greeting can escalate out of control quickly.
    Soon the high-five leads to direct eye contact. It soons spirals into a positive interaction that the child will even look forward to.
    These sweet (usually retired) crossing guards can escalate their morning greetings into real-life friendships faster than you can say Bingo. Be very afraid.
    Plus, it’s best not for the prisoners, er students to interact with the guards. Forming relationships should never be encouraged.
    Outlawing high-fives…how can you even type this as a proposed change and not feel like a complete schmuck let alone pursue it? What the hell are we teaching kids??

  31. pentamom January 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    lollipoplover — I agree that schools can and should provide safe paths through busy traffic areas — that’s just common sense. I only mean that it’s rather unrealistic to suggest that all kids should be able to go through entirely “car free zones” to get to school — if you live on the other side of the main road from the school, you will have to navigate it one way or the other. Crossing guards are the way this is done safely.

  32. pentamom January 8, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    The general idea of no physical contact is bad enough, but look at the extreme this goes to — a child high-fiving a guard’s SIGN was considered “dangerous.” The only way to prevent this is to insist that crossing guards not only avoid contact and don’t initiate, but actually start yelling at kids who want to touch them or their signs. Way to encourage a friendly environment.

  33. Papilio January 8, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    “If safety was really the top priority, they would find ways to let children walk or bike to school in car-free zones.”

    Very true – I think that every time schools do something dumb to protect children from some highly unlikely danger.

    “Come on now, you know high-fiving is just a gateway touch. Next thing you know they’ll say hello. Then they’ll move onto conversations. Once they are talking, the crossing guard may learn the child’s name. Then all bets are off as to where the relationship will go from there”

    So that’s where it went wrong, Lenore: you high fived your crossing guard? 😛

  34. Betsy in Michigan January 8, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    OMG I am so glad our charter elementary is happy to let kids and adults hug each other at school (there are always other people around, for crying out loud!). The one grandpa-man classroom aide (who is like a big friendly teddy bear, but absolutely doesn’t let any kids pull the wool over his eyes!) instructs girls to hug him (or any man) from the side, which seems like a reasonable etiquette/manners thing to teach (people being what they are today in their overblown paranoia). He works the halls and pick up and drop off, and tells parents and kids “Mr. — loves you”.

    Are we no longer to teach our children how to shake hands? A high-five or fist-bump is simply a variation of same.

  35. I don't even January 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    (I’m guessing that crossing-guards are what you call your lolliop ladies/men?)

    So…if you don’t trust your lollipop people to show good judgement regarding the safety of road crossings (when and when not to high-five would be included in that)…why the hell did you hire them as lollipop people, in the first place?

    Either trust them or hire better ones to begin with!

  36. Leigh Ann January 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    As someone who is a big fan of Free Range Kids and who works on crossing guard training in New Jersey, I can sadly say this rule is there for a reason. In NJ, the position of crossing guard has become one of the most dangerous municipal occupations. It’s not just that crossing guards are hit by motor vehicles but the slips, trips and falls can cause an older adult guard serious injury. When a crossing guard is injured on the job, it’s not only an issue for the guard, but it causes strain on the limited police force staffing and on the municipal budget. From speaking with many crossing guards about their jobs, they do it because they love interacting with the kids. Crossing guards are some of our best community heroes. However, many also say they have near misses with vehicles every day, and no, they are not exaggerating. I would also discourage kids from giving high-fives in the street. Talk to the kids on the sidewalk, wish them a happy day at school or going home, but when working in the roadway focus on the task at hand. Crossing Guards have a tough job, they can’t make assumptions that drivers will do the right thing. It’s about the drivers, not the guards or the kids.

  37. bsolar January 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    @Leigh Ann, I see this more likely to be an underlying problem with the driving situation in NJ. There is no justification for a crossing guard to be in danger, nor for this to be a recurring problem.

    Here crossing guards are typically fourth/fifth graders acting under the supervision of a police officer and almost all roads near schools have very low speed limits. A driver careless enough to endanger a crossing guard would likely get his driving license revoked on the spot.

  38. Skip January 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    Whoa! Shouldn’t those children be wearing helmets and knee/elbow pads as they skip across the street? They could fall and bump a noggin or skin a knee, and then bam! Lawsuit time!

  39. Donna January 10, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    Bsolar – A crossing guard in my town got hit by a car and seriously injured last year. We also had a police officer hit and killed while directing traffic at a school a few years earlier. I’m actually surprised that the crossing guard for our school hasn’t been hit considering the number of pedestrians and bikers hit on that road annually. It happens and not just in NJ.

    And while I do think that unique conditions in my particular town led to both of the above incidents, I am sure that there are hundreds of thousands of towns in the US that each have their own unique conditions that make crossing guard not as safe a job as it is other places.

    I don’t think not high fiving the kids makes a crossing guard at more dangerous intersections any safer – a car improperly running through an intersection is hard to avoid in the split second you have no matter how much attention you pay – but I don’t think it is a quiet and safe job in every town either.

  40. Puzzled January 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cftb0277.pdf

    http://www.saferoutesnj.org/toolkit/crossing_guards_manual.pdf

    The first shows workplace deaths by occupation in 2013. I am guessing crossing guard falls under “other education” sometimes (1 death) and sometimes under “support for transportion” (1 death.) So I’m estimated 2 deaths in 2013. This compares to 112 deaths in food service, 153 landscapers, 8 lawyers, 47 realtors, 16 deaths while leasing cars.

    The second is a crossing guard manual, which contains this statement:

    The position of School Crossing Guard has become one of the most dangerous occupations in municipal
    government. Each year, numerous crossing guards are seriously injured or killed at their posts while
    protecting our children. Over the last decade, the accident rate for crossing guards has increased 65%.

    Notice that the last sentence in no way supports the claim that the occupation is dangerous. If there was one death in 2003 and one in 2013, the last statement would still be basically true. 2 deaths would exceed the growth described. It’s like Scientology claiming to be the fastest growing religion, as if it were a meaningful fact.

    Small numbers can grow more easily, and people in this country cannot meaningfully discuss risk. I blame math teachers.

  41. bsolar January 11, 2015 at 4:21 am #

    @Donna, I don’t question that in some places crossing guard safety might be a problem, I question that it should not be the case. That it happens in many different towns is no excuse either.

    Even assuming the security issues are true and not exaggerated, forbidding high-fiving is a ridiculous countermeasure. If the conditions in a town make guard crossing dangerous, change these conditions: reduce speed limits, introduce speed dissuasors, harshly sanction reckless driving near schools, try to plan your road system to redirect heavy traffic away from schools, incentivize public transportation…

  42. Donna January 11, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    bsolar – Yes, in a perfect world where schools are the only priority and populations demographics never change that would happen. But in the real world where demographics and population densities constantly shift and there are thousands of other competing interests, that doesn’t always happen.

    My daughter’s school is 95 years old. It came to being in a small, sleepy college town and now exists in a city of 100,000 (not including the 35,000 college students who live here most of the year but whose residence is counted elsewhere for census purposes). It’s survived segregation, desegregation, white flight and gentrification. It’s been an all-white highly desirable school in an upper class neighborhood. It’s been the worst school in the school district with an entire student body comprised of bused in black housing project kids. It is now again one of the most desirable schools in the district.

    Obviously the local area has changed considerably, several times, since 1920 and the school has not always been at the forefront. Nobody pays any attention to a school that exclusively serves an unrepresented, and frankly unwanted, population and the needs of the neighborhoods filled with artist, musician and counterculture college student renters with no children are very different than the needs of neighborhoods filled with children. It now isn’t as simple as saying “oh the desirable families are back so lets tear down everything built over the last 50 years and cater to them.”

    We are working very hard to change some of the driving hazards around our neighborhoods and school, but we are also competing with the interests of all the choices made in the 50 years that no kids lived around here. It will likely change one day, but it won’t be before my child is out of elementary school. And then the population demographics will likely shift again and so on it will go. Such is the circle of life of the American inner city.

  43. bsolar January 12, 2015 at 5:11 am #

    @Donna: “Yes, in a perfect world where schools are the only priority and populations demographics never change that would happen. But in the real world where demographics and population densities constantly shift and there are thousands of other competing interests, that doesn’t always happen.”

    You don’t need a perfect world, merely a responsibly administered one. A good administration doesn’t merely *react* to changes: when your reaction time can be measured in decades (like in the redesign of a traffic plan or the construction of new roads) you have to be *proactive* and at least attemp to anticipate and/or steer the situation. Of course if traffic safety near school (or near all schools) is not the administrator’s priority you will likely lack it.

    Add to this that the proper solution is usually difficult/expensive and you get either no solution or false soutions meant to ease people’s worries but with no or little actual effectiveness.

    So, to summarize, bad administrations are bad.

  44. Greg Dwyer January 12, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Having been a crossing guard, I was told to keep contact careful because of concerns about guards being accused of inappropriate behavior. We were never banned, but told to watch how it could be seen. However, it was made perfectly clear that while we were stopping traffic, our only task to be performed was to watch the cars and the kids. Nothing else at all.

  45. Amanda Matthews January 15, 2015 at 10:04 am #

    Putting the school on the town’s busiest street is poor urban planning.

    There should be an area around the school that can be made car-free during certain hours. Of course, unless the student is walking from just across the street, they can’t expect the WHOLE walk to be car-free. Crossing guards and/or properly working crossing lights would be used for the outlying area.

    Of course this would have to be accompanied with a shift in students walking/biking to school, or else the streets just outside of the “car free” zones would become just as dangerous.

    In the towns/cities surrounding me there are several schools that are down their own cul-de-sac, and in my town there is a private school that closes the street that runs along the side of it during school hours.

    In one of the towns near me though – a low-income town – all the schools in optimal areas have been shut down and a few new schools on busy streets have been built, and there’s no crossing guards. I’m guessing the idea was that kids would stop walking, but since it’s a low-income area, most of them still do.

  46. Dee January 17, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Just put up a crosswalk light get rid of crossing guard if they cant be human!!!!