When we forbid rough play, kids get hurt
No roughhousing. No superhero games. No turning your fingers — or your Pop-Tart — into a make-believe gun. No tag. And certainly no dodge ball.
Stories of zero-tolerance play-policing by schools are a well-established news genre. Most recently, parents in Washington state mounted a successful campaign to force the Mercer Island School District to reverse its ban on playing tag during “unstructured playtime,” or what used to be called recess. In his backpedaling news release, Superintendent Gary Plano puzzlingly insisted that “asking students to keep their hands and feet to themselves at all times, including recess” wasn’t a ban on tag. Perhaps he envisions tag by telepathy.
At any rate, Mercer Island isn’t the first school district to prohibit tag and it won’t be the last. Bans on physical contact and pretend violence are the norm on U.S. school playgrounds.