Todd Lamb: Wonder Why Your Child Is Afraid of Heights?

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By Todd D. Lamb

Legendary Ohio State Football coach Wayne “Woody” Hayes was an old school football coach from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. He was skeptical of a play that we now take for granted in football -- the forward pass. He is famous –- and factually accurate -- for saying, “There are three things that can happen when you pass the football, and two of them are bad.”

School officials over the years have probably said the same about the playgrounds at their schools and the results that occur when students play on merry-go-rounds, monkey bars, and teeter totters.

There was once a time when the only thing that could go wrong with playing on these devices was an injury such as a skinned knee or perhaps even a broken arm. Then the lawyers showed up, and with them came the second negative to schools: lawsuits.

You might even think the reduction in monkey bars at schools –- if you apply Woody’s logic -- would be a good thing. Research into playgrounds and the benefits they bring now tells us something different.

A recent New York Times piece does a nice job of asking the “what have we done?” with our desire to protect our kids from injury and our schools from lawsuits. This piece marries new research –- findings have shown that kids who don’t climb and overcome height sare more likely to be afraid of them later –- with common sense case studies from New Zealand.

Here’s our takeaway: There are several bad things that can happen when personal injury lawyers are successful at litigating our, and our children’s, childhoods away.

Todd D. Lamb is the executive director of Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. This is his first opinion piece for Center Maryland.
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