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Don't Wrap Kiwi Kids in Cotton Wool

Thursday 1 Aug 2002 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Education

Standards New Zealand must heed the warnings of early childhood educators and dump plans to adopt US playground safety standards, ACT MP Stephen Franks said today.

"As the United States is one of the most litigious countries in the world, it is little wonder these standards are so grossly conservative. But even in the States, these rules were only ever meant to apply to unsupervised playgrounds, not to supervised early childhood centres.

"The standards will force early childhood centres to wrap kids in cotton wool. Traditional kiwi kids' play activities will be outlawed by regulations that prohibit the use of rope, more than two swings per bay, and are designed for materials that are not available in our country.

"If you don't give children opportunities to test their limits and risk small injury in normal childhood accidents, they will simply seek and court worse risks as young adults. If there is an absence of risk, children will often use their own initiative to create their own challenges - seeking stimulation in ways that may endanger their safety.

"If adopted, the standards will become compulsory for every early childhood centre. Yet this sector has had no representation on the playground safety standards committee.

"The proposed standards again raise concerns about the liability of volunteers such as parents who work with children. My private members Bill - the Education Volunteers Protection Bill - will protect these volunteers. It is wrong to expose them to unlimited liability and criminal prosecution.

"The Standards New Zealand committee which will meet on 27 and 28 August must recognise that risk is a natural and healthy part of children's development," Mr Franks said.


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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