Thousands of children hurt on school playgrounds

Thousands of children were injured in school playgrounds this year, most as a result of losing their balance or personal ...
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Thousands of children were injured in school playgrounds this year, most as a result of losing their balance or personal control.

More than 9000 people were injured, 8300 of them children aged between 5 and 14, in school playgrounds in 2016. 

Figures from ACC show that, by November 5, the number was up over the same period in 2015, when 8721 claims were lodged for injuries sustained in school playgrounds.

Upper and lower arm injuries were the most common complaints, with 1675 reported, followed by hand and wrist injuries.

It's important children can play in an environment that challenges them, Newtown principal Mark Brown says.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ

It's important children can play in an environment that challenges them, Newtown principal Mark Brown says.

More than 5000 were hurt by losing their balance or personal control, and 968 were in a collision, or knocked over.

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Per capita, most kids between the ages of 5-14 were hurt in Canterbury this year, at an average of 82, followed by Wellington on 75, and Auckland at 73.

Monkey bars were the most dangerous piece of equipment across the country, followed by flying foxes. 

There were strict guidelines around how school playgrounds were built, so kids could push the boundaries in the safest way possible, Newtown School principal Mark Brown said.

"Despite that, we do occasionally have children who trip over, or who swing and lose grips, and things like that. We keep a record of those [accidents] and if we see a pattern or a trend we act on it."

For example, the school had replaced an area of asphalt that wasn't even, and was spending around $130,000 on making sure its playground was up to the best standard. Despite that, accidents still happened, like one child "popping a knee" while playing on the asphalt.

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"It's about being a whole child and realising their extent in a safe environment. They are pushing themselves on adventure playgrounds, or maybe climbing in trees ... it's about knowing their limits but also gaining confidence."

Thorndon School principal Alistair du Chatenier agreed injuries were inevitable.

"We've got over 300 children running around, sometimes they fall over and break their arms, so we do remove hazards. There are always going to be injuries, we're not totally wrapping our kids in cotton wool."

Karori Medical Centre GP Jeff Lowe said there was four primary schools nearby the practice, so they did see a lot of playground injuries, but most were fairly minor.

"The majority would be lunchtime, playtime, sort of injuries, with kids running around and knocking in to each other."

The practice saw a moderate amount of injuries from playground equipment, with kids often falling and hurting their wrists, but fewer than it used to. 

"Kids will be kids, and growing up experiencing minor knocks is part of what it is to grow up in New Zealand, you're always going to get those injuries, we don't get too many major fractures or head injuries.

Over time there had been an improvement in playground equipment, and the surfaces it sat on, Lowe said.

 - Stuff

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