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''Gruesome Playground Injuries''

Commentary by LASN editor Stephen Kelly




Kids, being inventive and curious types, like to use slides in a number of nondesignated ways. The questioning look the little girl on the right is giving the older girl seems to be asking, “Where you going? Should we be doing this?
LA-ASLA Show

This Off Broadway season presents Rajiv Joseph’s romantic drama “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” following the lives of two accident-prone childhood friends into adulthood, blah, blah, blah.

An important aspect of this column is playground safety. Landscape architects and other playground designers are, of course, focused not only on creating a great and engaging playground design, but doing everything in their power to make the playground safe.

Still, despite the best planning and intentions, “gruesome playground injuries” occur. We note a recent lawsuit regarding a 6-year-old boy who was sliding at an elementary school. As he was sliding, he saw a puddle of water awaited him at the bottom. Now, this would have been a plus for me when I was a kid. My companions and me liked nothing better than playing football in the mud, jumping onto a puddle of water to make a splash, or ice skating real fast, then leaping from the ice into a snow bank. That was just kid fun. Apparently some kids today have different ideas of fun, because this boy was apparently so worried about getting his shoes wet (he hadn’t seen the puddle before he started to slide?) that he started to climb off the slide. He didn’t move fast enough, though, as a kid sliding behind him bumped into him, sending the puddle avoider head-first off the slide. The child had right arm fractures that required medical treatment costing a reported $41,000 (surgeries and braces).

Wouldn’t think of minimizing the injuries he suffered. The lawsuit reportedly alleges the child also suffered “mental anguish and emotional distress.” Gotta say, school-age kids, as I remember, suffer from those two maladies just about every day of school life.

The crux of the suit is the school district “failed to protect their son from danger and adequately supervise the playground.” The argument for lack of supervision may be justified. While my elementary school playground had no supervision, this one had three teachers supervising about 100 kids. Kids, however, with or without supervision, know that you don’t slide until the previous child is off the slide. It’s not that kids have inherent good manners, but no one wants to slide into the back of another kid, which defeats the fun of sliding.

The oddest aspect of the suit is reportedly claims of “lost earnings capacity of the boy and the loss of contribution to the household by him…” Earning capacity of a first grader? Contributions to the household by a first grader? Okay.


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November 20, 2019, 1:41 pm PDT

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