Swings deemed too dangerous for school playgrounds in Richland

Oct 3, 2014, 1:23 PM | Updated: 2:36 pm

Swings may be disappearing from a playground near you, and KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson doesn&#82...

Swings may be disappearing from a playground near you, and KIRO Radio's Dori Monson doesn't think that's a good thing. (AP Photo/file)

(AP Photo/file)

Swing sets are being removed from the playgrounds at Richland elementary schools because they’re too dangerous.

When KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson heard this, he lamented, “What is happening to childhood?” and called up Richland School District Spokesman Steve Aagard for answers.

“Why are we taking such an honored childhood source of joy out of the Richland schools?” Monson asked.

Aagard explained it has to do with liability over injuries and said this is not unique to the Richland School District. Removal of playground equipment deemed too dangerous is something that’s happening all around the country.

“It’s an unfortunate situation with lawsuits over the years with all sorts of different playground equipment, slides, swings, monkey bars,” Aagard said. “It’s just more of a lawsuit-happy nation, unfortunately, and it’s leading to things like this.”

Monson fondly recalled the games he and his buddies used to play on the swing sets in his old Ballard stomping grounds.

“We’d have jumping contests all the time. We’d have a piece of chalk. You’d fly as far out as you possibly could, jumping from the swing. A buddy would mark where you landed,” said Monson. “It was probably unbelievably dangerous, but we all somehow survived. But you’re right, none of our parents sued over it either.”

Aagard said swings aren’t the only playground toys that are threatened. Monkey bars are another big one schools are being encouraged to get rid of. Recalling his own childhood playground at Laurelhurst Elementary, Aargard said a number of his favorite toys are likely gone.

“We had all sorts of swings and slides and teeter-totters and those spinning things. You probably wouldn’t find those at all now at Laurelhurst. Things have changed. It’s unfortunate, really, because kids can’t enjoy some of the things that we used to.”

As for what’s replacing the swings, Aagard said he’s not sure on the specifics, but it’s something that is believed to be safer.

“I think, across the nation, you just see different kind of playground equipment that supposedly kids can’t get hurt on. I don’t know what those would be,” said Aagard. “You can get hurt falling off a step for heaven’s sake.”

Monson wondered if trying to keep our kids this safe is really good for them, or whether it’s going to be a detriment in the end.

“Risky behavior among young adults seems to be as high as ever and it just seems the more we insulate kids, the more likely they are to seek out much riskier behaviors on their own when they get a little bit older.”

Monson also pointed out the gradual sterilization of playgrounds may be why kids are turning more and more to video games.

“Our kids are getting fatter and fatter and we wonder why.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Swings deemed too dangerous for school playgrounds in Richland