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Principal's Brave Principles

Principal's Brave Principles

Tuesday, August 28 2001
Stephen Franks
Press Releases -- Governance & Constitution

"Salute the brave school principal who rejected yet another attempt to take the last remnants of adventure out of adventure playgrounds," ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said.

"On Kim Hill's programme yesterday Ms Jenny Earle of the New Zealand Principals' Federation defended New Zealand school children, school staff, and boards of trustees with her spirited comments about adventure playgrounds.

"Facing Dr David Chalmers she gambled in challenging the notion that risk must be removed from our children's lives no matter what the cost.

"Ms Earle said openly what common-sense has had to whisper in this nanny state. That is, if you don't give children opportunities to test their limits, to risk small injury in normal childhood accidents, they will simply seek and court worse risks as young adults.

"New safety rules are being urged, to make adventure playgrounds even more boring and unchallenging. This is despite the fact that the rate of hospital treatments for playground injuries has doubled during the period in which playground equipment safety has become an obsession.

"There are other costs of this absurd risk aversion. Decent parents will not run the risks of personal liability as trustees. Teachers will have to waste time pestering children who are deliberately seeking controlled risk, to be safe. Adolescents later damage themselves with drugs to test limits and show their contempt for safe boundaries and parents' messages. Traditional school tramping and swimming activities can't find volunteers to run them because of the risk of some hindsight inquiry into good faith help that goes wrong.

"Let us hope Ms Earle is a sign of returning to common-sense about injury risks and hazards. There are more than enough evil people intending harm to children for the law to worry about. While we don't have the resources to keep neighbourhoods safe from such predators why are we pouring those scarce resources into wrapping what remains of playground challenges in another layer of cotton wool," Stephen 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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