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March 28 2013

Culture of Alarmism: Dodgeball

Julie Gunlock

Adding to the wimpification of American children, one school district in Boston has banned the game of dodge ball in schools and other so-called "human target activities, games with names like bombardment and slaughter."

Is this yet another case of an overly cautious school administration banning this popular game? Heck no. School officials were simply reacting to the demands of parents:

The school district tells WBZ-TV a handful of parents had complained about bullying–that their kids were targeted during dodgeball–the district then studied the issue, and a special committee recommended the games be ended.

Handful of parents? That's all it takes nowadays?

I've written about this new breed of parents before (as has Charlotte, here) and how disturbing it is that today it’s often  parents—not school administrators--who seem to be demanding these ridiculous new policies. While no one wants to see a kid being bullied, is dodge ball really the problem here? Do school officials really think removing a red ball from the equation will automatically reduce the number of bullying incidents?  Hasn’t anyone thought the bullies might find another way to bully and harm other children?

The no-doubt henpecked (by these nervous parents) school Superintendent, Dr. Henry LaBranche, defended the ban telling a local news station that the school district is trying to teach students to respect one another, and the games “create conditions inconsistent with that message.”

Uh huh.  That’s true. Dodge ball certainly isn’t a game for peaceniks. But does the good Superintendent really think he’s solving any problems by banning a kid's game? 

Wouldn’t it have been refreshing if poor Dr. LaBranche had sent a note home to all parents telling them that it isn't his job (or any teacher's job) to instruct children on the basics of how to be civilized human being?  Wouldn't it have been swell if Dr. LaBranch had taken the opportunity to remind parents that they need to, you know, actually parent. Why waste this teachable moment. What better time to remind parents that it's THEIR JOB to teach their children manners, kindness, empathy, and perhaps provide a brief primer on how to live alongside other people without acting like you’re going to kill them with a large red ball?

If parents could find time to actually behave as parents, maybe schools wouldn’t be expected to take on this rather Sisyphean task and in failing to do so, wouldn’t have to ban dodge ball.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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