For a while now we’ve known that monkey bars are responsible for a disproportionate number of playground injuries in children, but now there is a concerted push to completely get rid of them.
Monkey bars are a hazard
Monkey bars, like trampolines, are perhaps the piece of play equipment most likely to spark responses of “Never did me any harm!” or “Nanny state!” when their safety is called into question, but the evidence tells us that they truly do pose a significant risk of injury to children.
Now there are renewed calls to ditch the monkey bars altogether, with experts saying they can’t be pulled out quick enough as far as they’re concerned.
“Monkey bars were OK when I was a kid 60 years ago, but they’re not an appropriate form of play equipment in 2018,” David Eager, professor of risk management at the University of Technology Sydney says, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
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14 167 monkey bar injuries
The statistics show that Professor Eager is bang on the money with his anti-monkey bars conclusion.
In one state alone there has been a “41 per cent increase in emergency department presentations in Victoria as a result of monkey bar injuries over the past decade. There were a total of 14 167 monkey bar related Emergency Department presentations – with 81 per cent in the five to nine-year-old age group,” Lisa Sharwood, an injury epidemiologist at the University of Sydney says.
That’s a lot of injuries, with most of them involving fractured bones, as we’ve reported here before. In fact, playground falls are one of the most common causes of injury for small children.
Fun without the fractures
Despite what monkey bars proponents might assert Professor Eager is not the fun police. Truth be told, he’s a fun champion, keen to speed up the replacement of dangerous monkey bars with equally fun, more inclusive and risky-yet-safe spatial nets.
“Professor Eager does not want to see risk removed from playgrounds,” the SMH reports. “On the contrary, he thinks exposing children to risk is vital in raising well-balanced and happy kids. But monkey bars, he said, are a hazard.”
Professor Eager told the SMH that where these space nets have replaced monkey bars, injury rates have fallen.
“Monkey bars are just so popular at lunchtime and recess kids are fighting for them, jostling for position – it’s one of the contributing factors to injuries,” Professor Eager said. The much safer “spatial nets get 50 odd kids on them and still seem to be saying, ‘Have you got any more you can give me?’”