Article in the Atlantic says being overprotective of kids creates more problems. Kids need risk to learn and grow and deal with risk later in life.

Subtitle says it all! “A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.”

You must read the article. I won’t try and paraphrase what a great job the author did.  Here are some quotes from the article: The Overprotected Kid

It’s hard to absorb how much childhood norms have shifted in just one generation. Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now routine.

One very thorough study of “children’s independent mobility,” conducted in urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 percent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that measure had dropped to 9 percent, and now it’s even lower.

Over the years, the official consumer-product handbook has gone through several revisions; it is now supplemented by a set of technical guidelines for manufacturers. More and more, the standards are set by engineers and technical experts and lawyers, with little meaningful input from “people who know anything about children’s play,” says William Weisz, a design consultant who has sat on several committees overseeing changes to the guidelines.

“Reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development,” says Joe Frost, an influential safety crusader.

Children, she concluded, have a sensory need to taste danger and excitement; this doesn’t mean that what they do has to actually be dangerous, only that they feel they are taking a great risk.

And all adults also!

We might accept a few more phobias in our children in exchange for fewer injuries. But the final irony is that our close attention to safety has not in fact made a tremendous difference in the number of accidents children have. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which monitors hospital visits, the frequency of emergency-room visits related to playground equipment, including home equipment, in 1980 was 156,000, or one visit per 1,452 Americans. In 2012, it was 271,475, or one per 1,156 Americans.

I love this quote.

“The advent of all these special surfaces for playgrounds has contributed very little, if anything at all, to the safety of children,” he told me. Ball has found some evidence that long-bone injuries, which are far more common than head injuries, are actually increasing.

Is it Risk Homeostasis or is it that kids don’t know or care about surfaces, they just need to have fun!

“There’s a fear” among parents, Roger Hart told me, “an exaggeration of the dangers, a loss of trust” that isn’t clearly explainable.

Wow, very interesting.

If a mother is afraid that her child might be abducted, her ironclad rule should not be Don’t talk to strangers. It should be Don’t talk to your father.

This is simply life. It probably at some point in time was said thousands of times a day. Now hearing it once is enough to be quoted in an article. The conversation is between two kids.

“You might fall in the creek,” said Christian.

“I know,” said Gideon.

For once there is an article about children playing that did not talk about the harm of computers. Why because children who have the opportunity to play don’t want to spend time on computers. Play is more fun. It is more fun to go out and explore than to shoot something on a screen!

Do Something

However what is described in the article just sounds like my life growing up. Getting skinned knees and bruises was called growing up. We learned first aid on ourselves. This worked, this burned and this made a mess and did not help.

Read the Article!

See The Overprotected Kid

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Keep a kid safe for a minute or help them learn to be safe for a lifetime!

Research shows that just saying don’t do that doesn’t work. You have to give kids the knowledge to learn how to evaluate the risks of life.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology shows that taking the time to explain the risks to a child is better than saying don’t do that. This allows the child to understand why and even better it provides the child with the tools to learn to evaluate all of the risks he or she will face in life.

Kids take risks not to take risks, but because they don’t know what the dangers are. More importantly children have no ability to evaluate the risks. You don’t know something is going to hurt unless you learn. There are two ways to learn.

1.   Get hurt

2.   Have someone explain the reasons and risks to you.

However the study did say there are still children who are prone to get hurt. When they grow up they are called guides!  J

See Explain the Present Danger to Children So They Stay Safe

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Maine follows the majority and does not allow a parent to sign away a minor’s right to sue.

Rice, Et Als, vs. American Skiing Company, Et Als, 2000 Me. Super. LEXIS 90

However the court held out the possibility that a

properly written indemnification clause may

be upheld.

In Rice et all the plaintiff was a nine year old boy skiing at Sunday River Ski Area. Sunday River Skiway Corporation was owned by the now defunct

English: The beautiful Sunday River Ski Resort...

Image via Wikipedia

American Ski Company at the time. The mother of the plaintiff signed the plaintiff up for an all-day ski lesson. While doing so she signed a “Acknowledgement &; Acceptance of Risks & Liability Release” (Ski Enrollment Form)” The form stated the risks and released the defendant of liability for negligence. The form also contained an indemnification provisions which stated the parents would indemnify the ski area for any losses of the minor.

During the afternoon instruction the plaintiff fell. The class stopped and waited for him to catch up. The plaintiff lost control and skied into the tree suffering injuries. The plaintiff sued for negligent supervision. The defendants claimed the defenses of the Maine Skiers’ and Tramway Passengers’ Responsibilities Act, 32 M.R.S.A. § 15217 (Supp. 1999) and the release signed by the mother.

The court quickly found the Maine Ski Act did not stop the lawsuit. The Maine Ski Act allows a suit for “does not prevent the maintenance of an action against the ski area operator for the negligent operation of the ski area”. The court found that negligent supervision “clearly” falls within the Maine Ski Acts “negligent operation” exclusion.

The court then looked at the release and struck the normal cords discussing releases. The court looks with disfavor on releases, releases must be strictly construed, and they must spell out with greatest particularity the intention of the parties.

After reviewing Zivich v. Mentor Soccer Club, Inc., 82 Ohio St. 3d 367, 696 N.E.2d 201 (Ohio 1998), the court held that Zivich only applied to non-profit organizations and in one-half of a sentence dismissed the issue that a parent is constitutionally allowed to sign a release for a child. The court then looked at prior law in Maine and held that a parent could not sign away a minor’s right to sue in Maine.

The court then looked at the mother’s claim for lost wages. The mother’s claim is derivative of the son’s claims. That means that if the son’s claim does not prevail then the mother’s claim does not stand. Because there were no defenses to the son’s claim then the mother’s claim could go forward.

Whether a parent can recover for their own losses when a child is negligently injured varies from state to state.
The final defense reviewed by the court was the indemnification language in the release. Maine, like all other states disfavors indemnification clauses against a defendant’s own negligence. The court found that this clause was not sufficient to state a defense under Maine law. However the court did not deny indemnifications claims absolutely. A release or indemnification agreement written with the guidelines of the court may be upheld.

So? Summary of the case

Maine fell in with the majority of the states holding that a parent could not sign away a minor’s right to sue. Nothing knew there. However there were several other defenses that were not raised or maybe were raised at later times.

The mother enrolled the plaintiff in a level III class. That required the plaintiff to have experience and be able to “form a wedge, to be able to stop and start and to get up on their own if they fall and they can put their skis on by themselves and that they have experience riding the chairlift.” A minor can assume the risk of injury. Whether or not a nine year minor can I do not know. The specific age were a minor can assume a risk varies by state and by age. However, the plaintiff did have experience skiing and as such might have assumed the risk.

Another outside claim might be that the mother was a fault for signing here son up for a class that was beyond his abilities. Maybe the minor should have been enrolled in a Level 1 or 2 class. However, this claim would be subject to the claim that the instructor should have moved the child if the child was in the wrong class by lunch. This argument may hold if the accident occurred in the morning before the ski instructor had the opportunity to review the student.

The court also brought up and pointed out that the father had not signed any of the documentation. Not a legal point, but an interesting one in this case.

The Great Seal of the State of Maine.

Image via Wikipedia

So Now What?

1. Get the best most well written release you can that specifically stops lawsuits by parents.
2. Educate the minor in advance, and probably the parents so you might have an assumption of the risk defense.
3. Be very wary with kids. If it appears that the minor cannot ski with the rest of the class, either move the minor to another class or move the class to a slope the minor can handle.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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