Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids. Her show “World’s Worst Mom” airs on Discovery/TLC international.

The Richland, WA, school district is phasing out swings on its playgrounds. As the district’s spokesman recently told KEPR TV: “It’s just really a safety issue. Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground.”

Ah yes, those dangling doom machines. All they sow is death and despair.

But while this sounds like yet another example of how liability concerns are killing childhood (seen a see-saw anywhere in the last 20 years? A slide higher than your neck?), it’s deeper than that. Insurance underwriters are merely the high priests of what has become our new American religion: the Cult of Kiddie Danger. It is founded on the unshakable belief that our kids are in constant danger from everyone and everything.

The devout pray like this: “Oh Lord, show me the way my child is in deathly danger from __________, that I may cast it out.” And then they fill in the blank with anything we might have hitherto considered allowing our children to eat, watch, visit, touch, or do, e.g., “Sleep over at a friend’s,” “Microwave the macaroni in a plastic dish,” or even, “Play outside, unsupervised…”

What’s more, this is a state religion, so the teachings are enforced by the cops and courts. Those who step outside the orthodoxy face punishment swift and merciless…

We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids completely safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.

If we want the right to raise our kids rationally, even optimistically, it’s time to call the Cult of Kiddie Danger what it is: mass hysteria aided and abetted by the authorities. But as earlier holy books so succinctly instructed us, there is a better way to live.

“Fear not.”


RTFA for beaucoup examples. And then you can add the Congressional stalwarts who bust our chops every year with attempts to censor the Web – because “we must think of the children!”

  1. Ted says:

    Ah, yes this the same movement that got rid of the ball pits. Either due to germs or kids landing on each other.

  2. Phydeau says:

    My theory is that with the advent of birth control, the only people having kids are the ones who really “love” kids, and that’s not necessarily in a good way. So their kids become their hobby, and they obsess over them.

    As opposed to previous generations, where people had kids whether they wanted them or not, and they were satisfied with feeding, clothing, and sheltering them, and letting them find their own entertainment while mom and dad smoked and drank their martinis.

    I feel sorry for today’s kids with their hobbyist parents obsessing over them.

  3. NewFormatSux says:

    Trial lawyers sue, aided by liberals who block any attempt at tort reform, who are then paid by the trial lawyers.

    • Ah_Yea says:

      Exactly! This is all about liability and lawsuits.

      NewFormatSux also nailed it about Democrats blocking Tort reform.

      Senate Democrats Block Caps for Malpractice,

      Even Howard Dean admits it,
      “It is extremely difficult to estimate how much money is wasted in the health-care arena because doctors engage in defensive medicine to avoid lawsuits. I was at a public forum before the health-care law was voted on and one of the speakers was Dr. Howard Dean. I do not agree with many of his political views, but he is an honest individual as far as politicians go. Someone asked him the question, “Why is tort reform not included in the health-care bill?”
      “It’s really quite simple,” he replied. “The Trial Lawyers Association gives us [the Democratic Party] a great deal of money, and they don’t want it in there.”

  4. Kerpow says:

    I hate to be a wet blanket on all of your rants but I personally know a couple who just lost their 7 year old daughter due to a head injury sustained from falling out of a swing at her school.

    I’m not advocating that swings should be removed from playgrounds but yes, they can be dangerous. Much like everything else in life.

    • NewFormatSux says:

      >I’m not advocating that swings should be removed from playgrounds

      The people being ranted against are.

  5. Greg Allen says:

    One of my job duties is to supervise recess in a school playground. It is a rare day that a child doesn’t get hurt. Fortunately, it’s almost always bumps, bruises and sometimes a little blood.

    So, I’m not going to complain about safe equipment.

  6. Screw IT says:

    AMEN! FUCK THE KIDS!!! (Not literally.)

    … And fuck the “terrorists” over-reactionist cowards too!!!

    Pssst! There’s a little thing called a CONSTITUTION in America that any real terrorists are SUCCESSFULLY getting your asshole lawyer congressman to tear up little by little each day — the same jerks (in American government) who “do it for the kids” and to “protect American lives.”

    Meanwhile: (y)our economy continues to burn thanks to absolute retarded fuckheads like Bill Clinton and George W with their NAFTA/CAFTA crap. And you just know, they did that royal screwing “for the kids” too!

  7. Grumpy Old Fart says:

    I think I would hate being a kid these days.

  8. fishguy says:

    I am a parent. I felt guilty as shit when I slammed my son’s hand in the car door. I didn’t sue the car maker, I just made sure I didn’t do it again. Simple.

    My son also kept his hands out of door jambs for the rest of the time he lived with me. Probably still does.

    • Ah_Yea says:

      That’s called taking personal responsibility and having integrity, something in short supply nowadays.

      Then again, why take responsibility and have integrity when our own government preaches that it’s always someone else’s fault and to sue the manufacturer? (See my comment above).

  9. Dream On says:

    The liberal mind is too often a theoretical one that dreams of a perfect but unobtainable world.

    Even scarier, too many liberals take a single idea based on compassion and logically extend it into absurdity.

    I suggest they create an online cyber-environment where gravity can be suspended and god-like power is just a checkbox away!

  10. Glenn E. says:

    Swings can be dangerous, to kids that just don’t understand the law of gravity. And think that maybe they too can fly, like Harry Potter. So when at the top of a swing, they let go. That could mean a 20 ft. drop to hard ground.

    Very young children shouldn’t be on these swings, without adult supervision. And older children need to have the facts of reality explained to them. After Hollywood fills their heads with too much convincing fantasy. Muggles can’t fly. And they are all Muggles. NO exceptions.

    I remember when the media was blaming the Six Million Dollar Man, Tv series, for children leaping off of apartment balconies. Just like they saw Steve Austin do. But I haven’t heard Ms. Rowling and Warner Bros. Pictures, catching any flack for children thinking they can do the same, on brooms. Better PR agents, this time around, I suppose.

    • LibertyLover says:

      Aw, hell, I used to jump out of my swing at apogee when I was in first grade. I learned how to land and not hurt myself. Of course, kids these days are obese so they land harder.

      I’ve got scars on both knees and elbows and one on my scalp to go along with the awesome memories of how I got them (not the scalp though).

      Maybe my parents didn’t love me, as Phydeau says . . .

      • McCullough says:

        We kids built a go-cart once and launched it down a steep neighborhood street. Used a stick nailed to the frame in front of the wheel for a brake. That didn’t work too well.

        Rode that baby till the wheels (literally) fell off.

        Good times.

        • LibertyLover says:

          Got some of those memories, too.

          I used to jump my bike over a gully. Those 1.2 seconds of hang time were serene. It was the landing (controlled crash) that was scary.

          I never built a downhill go-kart, but I did try the tractor tire. Holy Moly was that stupid!


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