by michael on January 3, 2011

Lawyers Subvert Childhood

My morning’s reading began with this depressing article published on the online site for the Institute for Legal Reform.
Lawsuits Take School’s Swing Sets Away From Kids

Key paragraphs:
But elementary school students in Cabell County, West Virginia, may miss out on some of those childhood pleasures. That is because the county’s school system has decided to remove swing sets from all school playgrounds, due to lawsuit fears. Their story is featured as part of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign.

The decision came after the school district faced two different lawsuits from the same parent over relatively minor injuries suffered by his two kids in separate incidents on a school playground. Facing a tight budget because of the current economic situation, the school system determined that it could not afford the potential costs of playground-related lawsuits and decided to remove the swing sets.

“We’re disabling our swings to keep us out of the courtroom,” says Cabell County Schools superintendent William Smith. “Economically, school districts are really having to watch their budgets closely. Playgrounds are very important but the instructional program trumps that.”

A few points can be made. Notice that the superintendent eliminated the swings for budget reasons, not because the school had done anything wrong or because the school was negligent. The school district can’t afford to defend these lawsuits and, if the district should lose, it has no money to pay the judgment inflicted upon it.

Notions of justice, right and wrong, personal responsibility and life’s ordinary risks are dismissed. Also note the tyrannical capabilities of one family to inflict harm, to intimidate and to deprive an entire district’s children from playing on swings. I regret the pernicious role played by my profession in advancing this destructive policy.

A more interesting question is, what’s next? Lawsuits for name calling? For too much homework? For not grading a test the way a parent thinks it should have been tested? Lawsuits for giving a child a zero because the child cheated?

Law and narcissism and blatant opportunism lead to the loss of freedoms.
More later

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jeremy January 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm



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