First They Came for the See-Saws, and I Said Nothing…

Then ekznbttdbh
they came for the merry-go-rounds, and I said nothing. Then  —

The city is putting the brakes on spinning playground equipment following reports of injuries, a Parks Department spokeswoman said.

Rotating metal saucers that kids ride at two Park Slope [Brooklyn] playgrounds were recently welded into place so they can’t move, and the city has made similar modifications or removed a total of seven disks citywide “in the interest of public safety,” the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman declined to discuss how many injuries had been reported or other specifics.

Turning the spinning disks into statues angered Park Slope parents, who said the city was going too far to protect kids.

“I think it sucks,” said dad David Friedlander, whose 2-year-old was disappointed to find the the spinning disk at Vanderbilt Playground in Prospect Park suddenly stuck in place in late November. “I think it’s a sad commentary on how litigious and afraid we’ve become of having our children get a few boo-boos.”…

The city removed a swing at Slope Park last year after several kids broke their legs while playing on it, but parents said the spinning metal disk didn’t seem to present nearly the same risk….

Great reporting by Leslie Albrecht at  And thanks to my former editor at the New York Daily News, Josh Greenman, for sending. Read the rest here and figure out a way to protest the systematic excision of any and every speck of fun “risk” from our children’s lives.. (And speaking of excision, I just had dental surgery! So fill in for me with lots of great ideas!) – L. 

What the Parks Department sees when it looks at playground equipment.

Bureaucrat Rorschach Test: This is what the Parks Department sees when it looks at playground equipment.


29 Responses to First They Came for the See-Saws, and I Said Nothing…

  1. Old School December 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    Sadness. In my home state I have watched the rules for child-care centers evolve into madness over the past 30 years. Colorado rules now prohibit ceramics of any kind, even a mortar and pestle, teacher mugs, and pots for children’s garden projects. Playground rules require a 6 foot diameter fall zone of cushioning material around anything 4 inches high or greater, which eliminates any garden rocks or tree stumps. 3-inch diameter ropes are considered a strangulation hazard. Climbing structures may not be made of wood. Children are required to wear a helmet for tricycles. This list goes on and on. These rules are ridiculous and cruel. As an aside, I fondly remember the swing set game “egg beaters” as a child in the 1970s. I believe the perpetual exposure to plastics is a far greater hazard than any playground. The book Plastic Purge lists a few reasons why.

  2. Maggie December 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    They are also taking away the monkey bars. *sigh*

    What used to be common in “toddler” playgrounds is now what you find in ALL playgrounds. And frankly, it’s boring for most kids over the age of 6.

    No fast slides, no swing sets where you can swing really high, no monkey bars where you can climb to the top and feel you have conquered the world.

  3. Warren December 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    And the very same gov’t agencies are screaming about child obesity.

    Cannot have it both ways. Take away the playgrounds and then complain that people’s kids are overweight.

  4. BL December 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    One of the linked articles mentions a girl who broke her ankle on a swing – not from falling off or anything, but by catching her foot on a mat underneath the swing.

    Wanna bet nothing of the sort would have happened if there had been grass and dirt under the swing? Why are artificial surfaces supposed to be so much more safe than natural ones?
    They aren’t. I want to scream every time I see a paved playground.

  5. Athena December 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    My husband and I just installed a playset in our back yard that puts the local elementary school’s to shame. The young children have two toddler sized slides and a plastic “climbing wall” that is a mere 3-4ft in height. This playground is surrounded in benches for the teachers. We have so many competing problems and these solutions are doing nothing to solve the root issue. Obesity, ADD/ADHD, behavioral problems, the list goes on and the only true solution is physical output via play. By taking their play away we doom them to fail every expectation we create for them. I feel terrible for this generation of littles.

  6. lollipoplover December 5, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Put up tombstones or memorials where the removed playground equipment used to be so the kids can at least mourn the loss of their childhood.

    RIP Monkey bars. You taught us upper body strength and spacial awareness. Long may you live in other playgrounds that will actually attract children who want to challenge themselves and swing.
    RIP swings and spinning disks that taught us to pump our legs and balance our weight. May you remember the squeals of laughter from the children who enjoyed you.

  7. K2 December 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    So, does all this safety make this a good year to be a child or a parent?

  8. SOA December 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    We had one spinning carousel at a park near us and the only one I have seen in a long time. They finally got rid of it. I was sad to see it go. My kids loved it.

  9. lollipoplover December 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    Instead of the occasional bump, bruise or broken bone, we have a nation of obese kids. Which costs more, heart disease and other obesity related issues, or the occasional broken bone and learned lesson?

  10. Wendy W December 5, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

    That’s what the sanitization of playgrounds amount to. Except the the pavement is rubber instead of blacktop.

  11. Donald December 5, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    This has nothing to do with safety and EVERYTHING to do with: Safety consultants must keep busy. They have to justify their existence. They have a job,company car, and free gym membership. If they don’t find hazards (or make some up) then they have to find another line of work.

    One of the problems with bureaucracy is that it promotes tunnel vision. Bureaucrats focus so hard on their task that they aren’t able to comprehend outside of this.

    We need to show them a hazard. Reducing hazards is the only thing they can do. One of the reasons why children run around in gangs or play xbox until their brains turn into yogurt is because playgrounds are so boring. PLEASE HELP US Mr. Safety consultant. Help us to reduce this hazard!

    Don’t tell them, “don’t get rid of that. The hazard is very low.” Instead tell them “gangs and 20 hours of xbox per week is a big hazard, help reduce this by making playgrounds enjoyable.”

  12. Stacy December 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    There are rotating metal saucers at a playground near where we camped for several summers. The second summer, my daredevil knew not to try to stand up and jump off because it sure hurt when she tried it the first time. It had become a funny memory for her. It never occurred to us that they should remove the saucers, which reportedly are awesome for spinning until you’re sick.

  13. Jessica December 5, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    I was thrilled to be in a new subdivision the other day and to see a park that made me want to play! Wood chips on the grounds, one of those rope/metal pyramid structures that was nearly 25 feet tall, all kinds of spinning disks at various angles, and some kind of crazy teeter-totter that was suspended from a high arm like a set of scales with two disk seats. Now that one was fun. It was equally fun watching two sisters scream with fun and a little fear as they figured out the mechanics of that one. My husband and I rode it too and it was awesome. Maybe that’s the problem with the beauracrats making these decisions: they need to play on a truly fun playground.

  14. Lexis @ December 6, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    That is so sad. Playgrounds are getting so boring these days, the kids may as well stay inside.

  15. J.T. Wenting December 6, 2014 at 1:58 am #

    “Instead of the occasional bump, bruise or broken bone, we have a nation of obese kids. Which costs more, heart disease and other obesity related issues, or the occasional broken bone and learned lesson?”

    ah, but the bureaurats can blame that on the parents. “you’re bad parents because you feed your children too much junk food. Because of that we’ve this court order to take your children into a foster home”.
    And so the state manages to take children from their parents…

  16. J.T. Wenting December 6, 2014 at 2:00 am #

    “That is so sad. Playgrounds are getting so boring these days, the kids may as well stay inside.”

    Which is a possibly unintended side effect of the whole thing.
    Nobody goes to the playground, city “notices” and closes down the playground, sells the (expensive, high profile location) land to some project developer for apartment blocks or stores for millions…
    And that money of course goes all towards things for children (NOT).

  17. John December 6, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Sigh…….only in America. As the years go by, the United States will be getting pulverized in the Olympic Games. Our athletes will be so substandard compared to those in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, China, etc. mainly because of the slow but sure restrictions we’re placing on our children as each year goes by. But we won’t have a clue why.

    That will be the price we play for “evolving”.

  18. Jeff Wegerson December 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Dental Care topic.

    Story 1:
    About 15 years ago my dentist was about to send me to a peridontist because of a deep (9mm) pocket behind my rearmost lower molar. I mentioned it to my daughter’s braces dentist (whatever they are called) and she recommended that I use a pocket irrigator ( with 1/10 Providone Iodine (10% solution) and 1/10 Hydrogen Peroxide and 8/10 tap water. I was to squirt some daily into the pocket. It was a slow process but for several years now that once very deep pocket now registers around 2mm.

    Story 2:
    The root of the molar on the other side cracked. I was sent to a dental surgeon who removed the cracked root leaving me only one root for that tooth. Unfortunately the tip of that root broke off. The dental surgeon discussed the options with me as he said I would be lucky for it to stay in my mouth for 6 months. I began using the pocket irragator on the gums around that tooth. That was six years ago. My regular Dentist now calls it the “miracle tooth”. It is not the tightest tooth I have in my mouth but it’s still there.

    In the last couple of years he has been treating it with a time release tetracycline grain that kills bacteria deep in the gum around the tooth for ten days. During that time I do not irrigate. Between the two I believe is what saved that tooth.

    Both are topical so there have been no side effects for me and I believe that bacterial resistance is not an issue. (My belief)

    I recommend both as may be appropriate.

    Good Luck

  19. I don't even December 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    The average person has two fractures in a lifetime. Also, about 6 million Americans will break a bone each year. Can we just get the bureaucrats to think about that before they panic?

  20. Papilio December 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    Whatever they remove (not talking about teeth here…), something will be the most dangerous. Again a cost/benefit analysis that only looks at the X-ray picture side of the equation… Grrr.

    “And speaking of excision, I just had dental surgery! So fill in for me with lots of great ideas!”

    I thought The Beatles etc etc etc had all their great ideas while tripping on… whatever? 😀

  21. Celeste December 6, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    When my son was six, he got a serious head injury at a NYC park. He was hurt because of unsafe playground equipment. In this case, it wasn’t that the equipment was inherently unsafe, but it was poorly maintained and as a result of deterioration, extremely hazardous. I sued the parks department and got a settlement on behalf of my child – which ended up paying for his college education years later. Just a few months after the lawsuit, the playground equipment was ripped up and updated equipment was put in. At the time (this was in the early 1990s) the revamped playground was considered to be a huge improvement by all us parents in the neighborhood. It was still fun for the kids – more fun, actually, because it was new. I suspect that the parks department is removing the equipment you’re referring to because they’re being sued by parents whose children were injured on the playground…or maybe they’re just worried about getting sued.

  22. Earth.W December 7, 2014 at 2:16 am #

    Absolutely ridiculous. Maybe we should just kill every child and ban births and breeding to keep children safe.

  23. BL December 7, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    “kill every child and ban births and breeding”

    Don’t give them ideas.

  24. Jill December 7, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    “Kill Every Child” would make a great slogan to put on a t-shirt.

  25. babs December 7, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Agreed: over-paranoia is becoming the norm, and children and creativity are suffering. Safety is an understandable issue but I think it is often carried too far. Parents need to speak up, not only in voicing discontent, but also in asking questions and / or requesting alternatives that provide a similar experience.
    Surprisingly, some play equipment manufacturers are listening. For example, I have recently seen a new version of the “spinner” (on a city playground).
    Also, “Old School”: tree stump and garden rocks can be used in playgrounds. Yes, a 6′ free-zone is needed around them if they are “individual” play elements. But when placed “together” and spaced as “stepping stones / stepping logs”, they can be placed closer so that the kids can hop / step between them.

  26. sloan44 (@sloan4444) December 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Kids can fall off and hurt themselves on any type of playground equipment: Slides, Merry-Go-Rounds, teeter totter, swings, the list go’s on. That’s part of life. You get back up, wipe the dirt off, and get back on. We all fall off our bike the first time the training wheels are removed, skin our knee and get back on. I feel it’s a shame to cradle kids. By doing so they lose out on experiencing the full growth of life.

  27. Emily December 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Okay, what’s fun about a merry-go-round that doesn’t move? That’s not a merry-go-round; it’s a boring-stand-still. Better to just rip the whole thing out than to pretend that kids would enjoy playing on a stationary metal disc. At best, they’d just sit on it and eat junk food and play on their smartphones and handheld gaming devices.

  28. Emily December 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    Also, Warren, about the “uber safety versus childhood obesity” thing, I know that people can’t have it both ways, but I think society wants to. I mean, to some people, the ideal 21st-century child subsists on locally-grown kale smoothies, and engages in an exercise regimen of structured, adult-led physical activities, such as team sports, and swimming, dance, and gymnastics classes. All of this requires parents to pay for the activities, transport the kids there and back each time, sign them in and out so that they’re NEVER out of sight of an adult, and possibly sell cookies and wrapping paper and other junk to offset travel and competition fees, etc. You know, it’s so funny; I have a bit of a window into this world myself. As you know, I’m a roving yoga instructor, and I teach at a few different places, including a gymnastics club. All of my participants in the class there are parents of kids enrolled in gymnastics, and for them, my class is often the one break they get in their crazy schedules that are dictated by their kids’ activities. I’m glad I can give them that, but all I can think is, maybe if free play was more accessible, people wouldn’t feel like they had to sign their kids up for every activity going, just so they don’t turn into zombies in front of a screen.

  29. Papilio December 9, 2014 at 3:39 am #

    “Everything of value is defenseless” – Lucebert