Playgrounds are essential for the development of children since they provide a recreational haven that is isolated from outdoor hazards. Even so, playgrounds expose children to the risk of injuries such as broken arms and fractures.
This fact was brought to my attention following an accident involving my neighbor’s eight-year old child who fell off the monkey bars on a school playground and broke her arm. Research by Howard et al. (2005) reveals that admission to hospital as a result of playground injuries occurs at a higher frequency than that associated with any other cause of pediatric injury.
Bearing this in mind, I feel that accidents that take place in playgrounds represent a major health issue in our society. In this paper, I shall explain why I hold this opinion and proceed to document how the problem can be addressed at the societal level.
Why Playground Injuries are a Major Concern
Playground accidents are the number one cause of pediatric injuries (Howard, et al., 2005). These injuries can be severe in nature and may even result in the death of a child due to strangulation from entanglement or head injuries from falls (Tinsworth & McDonald, 2001).
Playground injuries also result in major expenditures in pediatric health care. The annual cost of playground related injuries among children aged below 14 was over $1 billion by the turn of the last century (NSKC, 2004). This figure can be expected to have increased owing to the rise in playground injuries. This makes playground injuries the most important type of injuries to children due to the risk they pose and the subsequent financial implication.
Vollman et al. (2009) reveals that nearly 70% of playground injuries are caused by falls to the surface. A solution must therefore focus on the surface under and around the playground equipment since if the severity of falls is reduced, less injuries are likely to occur. Concrete, grass and soft surfaces under of around playground equipment should therefore be avoided.
In their place, loose-fill material such as shredded rubber and chips should be used. This will reduce the impact on falls therefore making the playground safer for the children.
To effectively tackle the issue of playground injuries, it is important to take note that most of the playground injuries occur in public playgrounds (Phelan, 2001). These playgrounds are mostly characterized by little supervision. Research indicates that 40% of playground injuries result from a lack of adult supervision in the play area (NSKC, 2004).
Children should therefore always be supervised when they are using the playground. Supervision helps since the adult supervisor can deter children from unsafe behavior such as shoving and pushing. The supervisor can also ensure that the children are using the playground equipment in an appropriate manner.
In this paper, I have stated my view that playground injuries are a major health issue in our society. My reasons for holding this view are because playground injuries are the leading cause of injury to children and the cost incurred as a result of this is over $1billion per annum.
However, play is essential for the wholesome growth and development of a child and playgrounds provide the ideal venue for children to play. Therefore, solutions should be come up with to make playgrounds safer for children.
I have proposed use of soft surfaces under and around playground equipment, and adult supervision as the two most effective solutions. By implementing these solutions, playground injuries can be minimized therefore ensuring that children benefit from play without being unnecessarily exposed to the dangers of injury.
National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC). (2004). Playground Injury Fact Sheet. Washington (DC): NSKC.
Phelan K.J., Khoury, J., Kalkwarf, H.J., & Lanphear, B.P. (2001). “Trends and Patterns of Playground Injuries in United States Children and Adolescents”. Ambulatory Pediatrics 2001; 1(4)–33
Tinsworth, D.K., & McDonald, J.E. (2001). Special Study: Injuries and Deaths Associated With Children’s Playground Equipment. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Vollman, D. et, al. (2009). “Epidemiology of Playground Equipment-Related Injuries to Children in the United States, 1996–2005”. Clinical Pediatrics, Volume 48 Number 1, 66-71