Just a few weeks ago I received an email alert about a 7-year-old girl’s death on a playground in the State of Washington. This recent death of a young girl has once again placed our public playgrounds under the microscope of media scrutiny. I have a concern with how the media and public playground owners are reacting to this story. Some public agency governing boards and administrators have already taken action even though the facts of the case are still under investigation.
The more I learn about the importance of play and its many benefits, the more I wonder why it is relatively scarce in everyday life. Even as a staunch advocate for play, in my life it accounts for only a few minutes out of each day. It’s easy to see the same paucity of play in friends, schools, and workplaces. If you agree with my observation that the presence of play in our lives seems to be inversely related to its value, then this is something we need to explore further.
Is it a reasonable expectation of parents that our children are safe when playing on a playground? Safety standards, especially those related to playground safety surfaces, play a huge role in answering this question. But are the safety standards really safe? It could be argued that they currently are not.