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back to article Girls' school head condemns bubblewrapping of kids

A former British Army Lancer turned girls' school headmaster is the latest to come out against the practice of bubblewrapping children. Robert McKenzie Johnston, head of the private Queen Mary’s School in Yorkshire, told the Girls Schools Association conference that the safety-conscious culture was being used as an excuse for …

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Joke

Choking hazard!

Bubble wrap is not a toy. Keep away from children!

Of course hours of fun popping all those bubbles was worth getting into a low-grade fight with siblings for a piece of the stuff!

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Go

Fair do's

Gotta agree with the sentiments made here... Kids these days are far too wrapped up in cotton wool! I've got a one year old son, who's at the stage in his life where he thinks he can walk miles. Whereas in actual fact, he can make two or three steps, then land squarley on his arse. While mum is happy to chase him around catching him...I on the other hand sit back and watch the hilarities from a distance, watching him LEARN.

That's not to say I'd watch him fall down a flight of stairs (as he's surpremely keen to climb them when the safety gate is left open) bouncing on his head... But, kids I feel should be allowed to take risks, learning from their mistakes. If that involves bumps and scrapes along the way, then so be it. Never did me any harm growing up (other than the odd scar or two, here or there!)

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Pirate

Its about time...

Its about time someone realised that the whole point of childhood is to build deathslides, forts, treehouses, eat worms, fall off your bike, skint you knee, break an arm (so you get a cool cast and all your mates sign it) and generally learn what hurts and doesn't.

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Coat

support

Here here Mr Johnston, I support thee!

Besides... do these bubble wrapped kids get the honour of air holes?!

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Paris Hilton

I agree

So I let mine play with loaded guns before I feed them hot gravel and beat them to sleep in the evning.

Btw, is the Paris Hilton angel that she is too bubblewrapped or that she is too air bagged?

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Darwinism

Survival of the fittest is a lost concept in the human race at the minute. Any idiot can live to a ripe old age, reproduce, and curse the earth and it's tax payers with more morons.

"Health & Safety" has played it's devilish part in this.

Back in the day - when you were allowed to play unsupervised where you like, where people weren't sued if a kid fell over and hurt it's knee (FFS!!), and where in general kids enjoyed a more active lifestyle that left you less likely to become a fat, unhealthy turd - things were infinitely better.

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Go

I'm getting old

It's the first time I find a headmaster making some sense. Why, oh why does it have to be a dude from the army?

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He does have a point

When educational school trips are cancelled because the schools' liability insurance is sky high. Or teachers dare not take on anything remotely dangerous because of the whole "blame/sue culture" that has swept the world, not just the UK.

More common sense please!

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Rob
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No, the thrill seeking kids...

.... find other kids and beat the crap out of them and film it on their mobiles, only the really thick ones keeping out of the way of the aforementioned yoofs play on train tracks.

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About time too......

....the natural behavior of children is being swamped by the paranoia created by the Health and Safety Gestapo.

While I’m not advocating the return to children working in mines and in amongst large items of rotating machinery, they need to learn the principle behind “If you stick your hand in a fire, it’ll hurt” .

I have kids, and the youngest boy (only 6 ½) plays Tag Rugby. Last Sunday he was sent off the training pitch for contact tackling, something they are not supposed to do until they are playing Under 9’s. All his team have the natural desire is to get stuck in and play the “Big Game”

After the training session his mum made him go and apologise to the Coach. Which I would have done had I not been at work. So he learns to play to the rules, listen to the coach, and get in the team.

Apparently it was a bloody good tackle though.

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Pointless story

It's not like anyone *supports* the bubblewrapping of kids. Even if you surveyed the personal injury lawyers and entitlement-issue chavs that created the compensation culture, 100% of them would say they disagreed with the risk-averse society as well, and that their own case(s) was a genuine claim involving actual negligence.

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Joke

bubble wrap and child molesters

with the current attidued to bubble wrapping children could there perhaps be a link between bubblewrap fetishists and child molesters

just to be sure all people with a bubblewrap fetish should be put on the sex offenders register

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Anonymous Coward

Relative Dangers

"Rather than enclosing his charges in bubblewrap, or the equally moral-fibre-sapping cotton wool, he was happy for them to toboggan down stairs and go walking in the woods at night without a torch."

But being educated alongside boys is still obviously much too dangerous.

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Happy

New Craze?

Forget happy slapping, now you'll get gangs of youths wrapping unsuspecting kids in bubblewrap while filming it on their mobiles and posting it on youtube...

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Anonymous Coward

Micro-managers

I'd prefer to call it micro-management, when some manager, who sits in a remote office far far away from events, decides that his choices (made in the absence of first hand knowledge) are the right ones and other people, (the people actually doing and making stuff) are making the wrong choices.

He can't trust people to make the correct decision for themselves, so he makes it for them. Managing their every day lives in microscopic detail. Mother knows best? No, minister knows best!

We had a bunch of these in Tony's Kitchen Cabinet, the bad work he did is still filtering through with more of these idiots to be flushed out of power yet.

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Ash
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Commendable!

Bring back the days of "Death by Misadventure!"

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Mr MJ

Before he taught at St Mary's, Mr McKenzie Johnston taught at a small school in Dorset called "Hanford"

Both my little sisters were lucky enough to attend, and I can confirm that this chap takes a much more reasonable view of Health and Safty than most of the populous.

One thing that sticks in my mind is one large tree, situated just outside the school's front door, next to the Church. The children were not only encouraged to climb this tree, but on starting a new year, they would all have to climb to a new, higher branch than they did last year, with all their friends watching and cheering. There were many other activities just like this, camp building, swimming in the river, and of course tobogganing down the many flights of stairs.

As somebody who was forever being thrown into detention for climbing trees, or being caught swimming in the school lake (I was trying to catch a swan, it always got away), I can respect what the man is trying to do.

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Alert

Let's point the finger of blame at the States...

The UK has become more litigious, and that is part of the reason that children are not allowed to take risks - because corporations and local councils and the Government don't like being sued, or the thought of being sued, and so are becoming more risk-averse.

(On the plus side, a litigious society means you're less likely to have a bit of scaffolding hit you on the head...)

I was told that in the States, the emotional and naive jury would set the level of fines/compensation. In the UK, the tired and jaded (and learned) m'lud would do it.

This should mean that under the UK system we should never have the insane level of suings that exist in the States.

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Shipping

I'd still want to use bubble wrap for shipping children though, especially the way UPS kick parcels around the van.

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Bubble wrap

If children are protected from all danger and are never without adult supervision, it is reasonable to expect that when control is removed that they will have no experience or concept of danger and will do silly things resulting in serious personal damage. Children should be covered in mud and have at least one grazed knee! If a child falls out of a tree it is climbing, it will be more careful next time.

Could the lager lout syndrome be linked to this problem?

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Anonymous Coward

Damn Title

I was expecting to read about kids *actually* getting bubblewrapped, and maybe thrown of a bridge or something...

That gives me an idea brb

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Paris Hilton

@ mr.K

Americans always trying to out-do everybody else! :)

Maybe your teachers should have beaten you as a child with the cane, then you would know the difference between a Hilton angle and a Hilton angel! :)

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Disappointment

There was I expecting a jolly story of child abuse, only to discover that our language has been mutilated again....

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Joke

Conker and snowball fights...

... at the same time are actually quite possible and fun if you keep the snowballs (hidden rocks optional) in the freezer until it's time for conkers. Enjoy!

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Bronze badge
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Bring back Murderball

I had fun playing that one at school. We never did manage to organise a Kabaddi tournament though.

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Heart

safe

Let me add a cautious voice in favor of bubblewrap. Making toys and playgrounds safer, mandating safety gear, background-checking caregivers, and suchlike reduce mortality among children. 'nuff said.

The crowded urban environment in which many kids grow up today differs from the environment of our remembered or imagined youth. The simple, predictable dangers of the natural outdoor environment have given way to somewhat more subtle dangers. Plus kids don't have stay-at-home caregivers to the extend their parents and grandparents did.

We cannot wind back the clock to the bucolic days when most children died from being eaten by pigs (true fact) or from communicable diseases. There is always a thing that kills the most children, and we are negligent not to work to eliminate whatever that thing is from childrens' environments.

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Unhappy

"Health and Safety Gestapo" b0110x

Here starteth the rant.... Yes, as well as being a sideline tech-head, I'm a member of the supposed dreaded H&S Gestapo (even worse I work for local goverment!) and, in our defence, I want to make a few things clear. Most 'conkers bonkers', 'wrap 'em up in cotton wool', 'ban Xmas decorations' type decisions are not made by us professionals but by people who have no idea of what risk is or are looking for a) an excuse not to do something, or b) their 15 minutes of journalistic fame.

Of course kids should play rugby, climb trees and find out the hard way that no matter how tempting that mud pie looks, it tastes like crap. I'm also a Scout leader and I regularly dangle kids from rock faces on the end of a bit of rope and teach them how to be budding pyromaniacs. Without this experience kids will just turn into a bunch of unsociable, pale skinned fatties that sit at home with no human contact beyond their favourite social networking site.

As a fellow trade that is often unfairly maligned, how about not propogating the typical H&S stereotype and I'll promise to stop slating the IT department every time they tell me I'm not allowed to do something as simple as add a new printer.

Rant over.

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Paris Hilton

Balance

It's all a case of getting the balance right.

Consider telling the parent who's just had their child die from [insert gruesome preventable accident here] that you did want to wrap them in bubblewrap!

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Coat

If thats what it costs

If it costs me £13,000 per year to turn my kids into someone interesting instead of the bland consumers they are then by jove i am writing the cheque now!

Alternatively could just raise them in the inner city, they will get plenty of risk awareness there, obviously no education but its cheaper.

The problem seems to be one of either me having a Aston Martin or they having an education. Its a tough one.

13,000 x 7 years = £91,000.00, anyone wana buy a kidney? Not mine obviously.

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Totally agree

Playing is all about getting hurt, in order to learn your limits. Humans need a certain amount of risk and will adjust their actions to get it - put seatbelts in cars and people drive faster, have 'safe' surfaces in playgrounds and kids hurt themselves more seriously, though there are fewer minor scrapes.

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Here in the States

. . . One of the parents would sue the School/Headmaster, and get awarded a huge settlement based on the "Mental Anguish" caused bu knowing their children were being taught in such an unsafe environment where kids were allowed to be /gasp ... KIDS.

OH WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?!?

My wife, and I have a 16 mo old son, and neither one of us is inclined to coddle the toddler. That's Grandmothers domain!

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Pirate

Where's theres blame....

I also dispise the no win no fee stupid claims culture, but isn't it a result of the previous version where someone with a legitimate claim due to corporate indifference would be fobbed off for years before having to take a derisory farthing from the corporate insurers.

If you fall over and bump your arse on something obvious thats your fault IMHO, if you're injured by say falling masonry from a building that has been in a dangerous state for months and nothing was done, then prehaps taking a large wad of cash off the idiots responsible may open their eyes.

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Black Helicopters

Back in the old days...

I remember my car got wrapped in clingfilm on the last day before exams! Does that count?

It was mildy amusing even though it was my car!

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All that keeped me from dieing at school playing in the woods...

was the fact that I was forever getting told off by my Mum. Not for hurting myself, but because I went through the knees of my trousers at lease once a month. Bring back those days!

My primary school accualy had a (Very small) wood in the playing fields. It is now closed off, through fear for the kids. No one ever died when I was there.

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Bronze badge

about bloody time!

It's about bloody time someone with a shred of sense went public! Bumps and bruises are great teachers - stop kids inflicting them on themselves and you stop them learning anything about life.

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Go

It takes a village...

I don't know the source but I think there is a lot of wisdom in the statement that "It takes a village to raise a kid." The problem is that one half of the village is too occupied by itself to get involved in it and the other half is too scared to because they know that life is one lifelong way of risk-taking. Which is a shame because living is lethal anyway.

One can prevent a kid form getting in a potentially dangerous situation once in a while but it's far more effective to learn the kid to recognize and avoid these situations itself. Yet that's not without risks itself. essentially it is all about care and compassion, not only for your own kids, but for all kids, indeed for all human beings within your circle of influence. The problem with care is that it makes you responsible. Denying this responsibility, hiding it in disclaimers or substituting it with bubblewrap is a much more comfortable strategy. But on the long term it is taking humanity out of our society.

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Alert

Education not retardation

I agree. "Kids" should be taught and educated, not scared into never waking up. Shock tactics don't work. (I actually like them, they make me laugh the twitch on the balloon saving bloke from the anti get wasted advert really sets it off nice).

(Proper) Education, education education!

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Bronze badge

@ Kurt Guntheroth

"There is always a thing that kills the most children, and we are negligent not to work to eliminate whatever that thing is from childrens' environments."

Respectfully, Kurt, I would change your statement to "...we are negligent >>not to teach them to be cautious and respect<< whatever that thing iss."

The argument that "There is always a thing that kills the most children" and it must be removed from the environment may have a superficial appeal, but the logical outcome of that policy is a populace who has never learned the concept of risk asessment. If anything that poses a risk is removed from a person's environment before s/he has a chance to learn how to judge its likelihood and its potential effects, it is impossible for that person, later - when in an environment where that item has NOT been removed - to accurately judge whether the item is a threat and how much of one it is. The only response that we could reasonably expect that person to display is either total obliviousness or unreasoning fear.

(Now, this seems to be the attitude that certain governments which shall remain nameless seem to WANT in their populations - unreasoning fear of the, statistically, incredibly small possibility of being caught in a terrorist attack, and obliviousness to a ubiquitous surveillance state - but we won't go there right now.)

Since your statement that "There is always a thing that kills the most children, and we are negligent not to work to eliminate whatever that thing is from childrens' environments." does not seem to indicate that there is or should be any limit to that effort, then carrying the policy to its logical conclusion leads to the likelihood of exerting draconian measures to remove statistically-insignificant threats.

Eventually you are led to the realizatiuon that other people can carry potentially fatal diseases, so it's best to keep the child isolated from other human beings. Possibly taught via TV (well-vented to the outside of the child's environment, of course, as some of the materials used in televisions are quite toxic)...

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Anonymous Coward

Relative Dangers by Anonymous Coward

"But being educated alongside boys is still obviously much too dangerous."

Only for the Boys!

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Unhappy

Forget about chemistry and electronics while you're at it...

Bowdlerized high school science classes have come into favor where students perform safe computer-based simulated experiments, and never come anywhere near strong acids, bases or voltages.

Yesterday's scientific World of Tomorrow came into being in spite of religious persecution much more vicious than anything we see today. My question is, will tomorrow's World of Tomorrow be limited by "safe, simulated science" education which may prove more deadly than virulent religiosity?

After seeing "Idiocracy", I'm betting on at least a slowdown in scientific progress for not only the reason given in the movie, but also because real science based on real physical experiments will become increasingly rare.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a Yank, what's a conker?

So what exactly is a conker? I remember hearing a reference to them in a Danger Mouse episode when DM was changed into a childlike state. Not one of the best episodes.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: I'm a Yank, what's a conker?

It's a horse chestnut - used to play this game:

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/conkers.html

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huw

Sense ??

I would really like to meet the ex army teacher and congratulate him for bucking the stupid, risk averse, US style culture of breeding pointless, brain dead unthinking lard arsed kids with about as much knowledge of the real world and it's problems as a retarded donkey.

Sadly though, he will probably be sacked because some dumbfuck government agency or claim seeking parent see an opportunity to do something 'for the good of the kids'

People who support the sort of risk averse culture we currently slave under should piss off to the states where they belong and would feel at home. Before they fuck it up for the rest of us.

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Happy

Bubblewrap

Um. Bubblewrap is cheap. Psychotherapy is expensive.

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Bronze badge

Rugby?

They make your 6 yr old play tag rugby, but let the 9 yr olds tackle? That's a-backwards! Tackle rugby is safe for small kids, and gets more dangerous the heavier and bigger they get!

BTW, it's common to miss the point about US court awards: there is not much government social security, people expect that social security is provided through the court system. They see it as a plus that this throws responsibility for costs on to the people who create the problem -- thus allowing self regulation and lighter government regulation. Similar judgements in the UK would not be comparable unless government regulation and sickness pensions were abolished.

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Flame

[Common] Sense ??

"... bucking the stupid, risk averse, US style culture of breeding pointless, brain dead unthinking lard arsed kids with about as much knowledge of the real world and it's problems as a retarded donkey."

Seriously... wtf. A nation that cranks out more college educated nationals than any other. More foreign students clambering over visas than you can shake a stick at (and not the credit card). Brain dead lard arsed kids in a nation obsessed with money and "doing well" for one selves while furthering our (crappy) consumer culture?

Obviously you've got a real handle on this real world crap. With your supreme grasp of reality you must have also noticed that US children are more violent and socially aggressive. Of course with your all knowing and overwhelming knowledge you'd also be able to make a connection to school murders and what not. You may have me cornered there oh wise one of all knowledge of what children are and are not, but...

my kid with his pistol can shoot your kid with his baseball bat at 50 yards. Oh how insensitive of me.... about 48 meters.

You know shite of what it is to be an American kid.

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Anonymous Coward

I hadn't realised quite how bad the UK was...

...until I moved to Spain.

In the UK, it's almost physically impossible to get within 3 feet of a mechanical digger. Here when there's minor work in progress you're lucky if there's a couple of cones on the street and guess what? No-one walks up to the digger and looses a hand. No-one falls in the hole.

"But what about the children? They don't know not to go near!" Don't know -- true. Like going anywhere near "the big noisy truck" -- not a chance. They hate loud noises (excluding themselves of course). Building sites, though, are securely fenced off as they are genuinely dangerous (although they were my favourite playground as a wean).

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support

Anonymous Coward ...

It's "Hear! Hear!" not "Here, here".

You clearly were not thrashed enough by your teachers!

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Tom
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@Paul

I wasn't even allowed trousers. Shorts all round till we got to the great age of twelve. I went to boarding school in northern France. With some friends we dug holes and found live rounds dating back to WW1. We were stopped when we denounced ourselves because we found a grenade... Talk about the school of life. Wide games stretching over miles of open country and lasting days, involving shooting people with fireworks and sleeping under the stars because we couldn't stretch our budget to a tent. Pupils helping the headmaster build whole buildings on weekends. Trail biking with the cooks motorbike. Slipping out at night to trap rabbits and hares (we even caught one once - we skinned it in the dorm washroom, hung it in a cupboard, and ate it two days later). Those were the days. It's gutting to see the way people overprotect and smother their children. After all how are you supposed to stand up to an attack on the street if you never learned to deal with a bully at school?

Enough nostalgia. But I applaud this headmaster's way of thinking. I can only hope to find such a man for my (future) kids.

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