It Really Must Stop

If you look carefully you can see a little red person. Thats young son, perching on a branch.
If you look carefully you can see a little red person. That's young son, perched on a branch.

The Health and Safety regulations concerning children in this country are going totally overboard. In young son’s previous school, a Church of England state primary, we were already shocked by the number of rules they had, supposedly for the children’s safety. No playing football in breaks, during the heatwave they had to stay inside or sit down under the trees in all breaks, when we had the snow last year the school was closed for a whole week (explanation was that there was ice on the parking lot…) and teachers cannot hug or cuddle a child who’s unhappy or has been hurt.

Then there’s this horrible story about a dinner lady who got sacked for telling parents the truth about their daughter being bullied. And there’s this silly, silly new regulations at a playground: To accompany your child or grandchild or whatever into this playground you have to be vetted as a “playground worker”. If you’re not, you have to stay outside the fence.

And there’s this, where home baked cakes for school fetes have now been forbidden for hygiene reasons.

In yesterday’s Times, Jenni Russell tells another horror story and concludes that we, as parents in the UK, must really do something and protest!

Unfortunately, since I’ve moved my child away from the English school system to an international school, I don’t have much of a say in the matter. It’s my son’s good fortune that I’ve done so, the International school doesn’t appear to harbour these hysterical views on safety and believe that some good old-fashioned  common sense and respect for teachers, children and their parents goes a long way in keeping our beloved little ones safe.

However, it’s not all the government’s fault. We, as parents, must also look at our own views on safety. Where does good common sense end and over-cautiousness begin? Obviously, you can’t let your child play in the road, so that it will learn road safety. But you can let them fiddle with scissors and cut themselves a bit to understand why scissors are not toys? And where you can’t let a child stick its head into the fireplace, maybe you can let it light the candles on the table and burn their fingers a bit?

I remember an incident in my son’s preschool. He fell off the climbing structure and hit his head on one of the milk crates they used in their play. He of course hurt himself and had to have a few stitches at the doctor’s office. But a mum came up to me the next day and asked whether I didn’t think we had to pull the climbing structure or at least get rid of the milk crates, so a similar accident wouldn’t happen to another child. And she reminded me that a boy had fallen off the structure the previous year and broken his leg. She was rather surprised when I didn’t agree! It was the same mother who decided that her son could never again ride in a bus after she read about a tragic accident when a child was killed when a bus collided with a tractor. No number of statistics about children’s safety in cars versus buses could convince her to change her mind!

So now, let’s be sensible. If we let our children play and cycle and climb trees, there’s a good chance that they’ll scrape a knee, bump their heads or break an arm. But when I was young, we all had accidents like that! The only two real accidents, one fatal, I remember from school was a girl who was killed in traffic and another girl who got her finger crushed in a door, indirectly because of bullying. Neither of those episodes could have been prevented by all the crazy measures we take nowadays to protect our children!


Be careful, water is wet

I’ve been ranting about this before, but here I go again, inspired by the below sign permanently posted at the entrance to the shower area in my gym.

Sign in my gym
Sign in my gym

No cleaning is actually going on or has been going on when the sign is posted there. I don’t have a problem with that – it’s absolutely nice and clean and the cleaning person does her job very well. No, obviously the sign is there to warn the patrons that the floor is wet. I’m sure it will come as a great surprise to many people who are going for a shower at their gym, that the floor might be wet in that area.

Why is it that we need to be warned and advised about the most ridiculous things, when, just to mention a few examples, cars can drive a lot faster than the speed limits and cigarettes and alcohol can still be purchased? All things that cost a lot more lives and a lot more money to society than a person slipping where it’s wet or falling off a tree branch. It’s double standards!

I would like to regain responsibility for my own life and then maybe the authorities could spend more time and money on real dangers, that we as individuals can’t do anything about, like greening everyday products, protecting the honeybee etc. etc.

I sound like a libertarian now, I know. But really, I’m not a libertarian, I pay my taxes with (relative) joy and am in favour of many kinds of regulations. It just seems to me that some areas of regulations have gone completely overboard, particularly some of the health and safety regulations. The fact that so many people know so little about food and cooking that they’ll eat a chicken that’s practically raw is not something we should regulate our way out of. It’s something we should educate ourselves out of!