Whether by banning dodge-ball or suspending students who pretend to shoot guns, school administrators have wildly overestimated their mandate to keep students safe. Understandably distraught over recent school shootings and other rare tragedies, educators are now cracking down on any type of behavior that could conceivably end in injury. Sometimes, such determinations require the complete suspension of disbelief.
The latest of these ill-conceived safety measures originated in the Princeton School District of New Jersey, which has mandated participants in soccer, field hockey, and girls’ lacrosse wear a helmet during games.
As opposed to contact sports such as football, this decision has resulted in criticism from many parents and experts.
While board president Timothy Quinn said the initiative resulted as a way to “do whatever we can” to prevent head injuries, even doctors are calling it an overcompensation.
The coach of a nearby field hockey team expressed her displeasure with the rule, explaining it will only dissuade students from taking part in athletics.
According to Judy Goldstein, “the more you load onto the kids, the less likely they are to play the sport.”
Furthermore, the type of soft helmets being purchased — at the price of $70 each — will not prevent concussions.
While Dr. Alexander Post of the New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute conceded helmets are “good for reducing abrasions and lacerations,” he said they are “not for protecting against concussions to any significant degree.”
With the addition of a helmet, many believe players will only increase their combativeness on the field under the false assumption their heads are protected.
As with countless initiatives before it, this rule addresses a problem that doesn’t exist by implementing a solution that will only make matters worse.
There is a certain amount of risk in virtually any activity. A school’s attempt to eradicate those potential obstacles is not only impetuous in the short term, it inhibits a child’s ability to function independently in the long term.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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