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Put Away Your Sled: Ban Marks End of Childhood as We Know It

The Short of It

That's it, it's official. Childhood as we know it—or shall I say, knew it?—is over. The trend of cities banning sledding due to the fear of liability means our kids don't have a chance of enjoying certain simple pleasures of being a kid, like we did.

The Lowdown

Cities across the United States are saying no to sleds in their parks. Dubuque, Iowa is the latest city to enact such a ban.

"We have all kinds of parks that have hills on them. We can't manage the risk at all of those places," explains Marie Ware, Dubuque's leisure services manager.

As disappointing as this is, and other cities' decisions to ban sledding are, our lawsuit happy culture gives them no choice. In nearby places, like Sioux City, Iowa, judgments of up to $2.75 million have been awarded to people injured while sledding on town property.

Also, consider that 20,000 children were injured while using a sled between 1997 and 2007, according to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Many cities feel the risk is just too high for them to allow this type of winter fun.

Some cities are opting to ban sledding just on certain hills. Others use signage to warn sledders of potential risks and to remind them of safety tips. But many sledding enthusiasts ignore signs, which leaves a city vulnerable to a lawsuit anyway.

The Upshot

While I sympathize with local officials who are only trying to protect residents—and their treasuries—I can't help but lament over how much our kids are missing out on as a result of fear. Last year, I read about a school district in Washington state that was banning swings from playgrounds due to liability concerns.

No sleds; no swings. What's next? No singing?

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