A school in England has recently banned children from playing hide-and-seek. It has also banned children from writing notes to each other. It has also – and this truly stretches credibility – banned children from having best friends.
These prohibitions were all passed on to me at an event where I was invited to talk on the topic of risk in childhood. After the talk, a parent came up to me. Her opening words were “I read your book No Fear a few years ago. Back then, I thought you were overstating your case. Now, I realise I was wrong.”
The parent – an articulate mother whose child goes to a private school somewhere in London and the South East – explained that the school had apparently enforced these bans because of concerns about bullying, arguments and upsets. But she was genuinely baffled as to why any school would take such drastic steps.
I share this parent’s bafflement. I take no pleasure in having been proved right, nor in sharing the news in this post. The parent is taking the matter up with the school, in the hope of getting the bans overturned – which is why I am not giving too many details, and not naming her or the school. I will let you know if I hear any more. In the meantime, I would be interested to know if you have heard of any similar prohibitions here in the UK. Leave a comment here, or contact me by email.