NASHUA — Parents with kids at Charlotte Ave. Elementary were reminded this week that games of tag are off-limits on the school playground.
Principal Patricia Beaulieu posted an announcement on the school website explaining that "numerous injuries" led school administrators to talk to students about schoolyard rules, which include a ban on tag. A broader community conversation about kids, play and safety erupted when kids brought the anti-tag message home to their parents.
For Bill Chisholm, who has a son in the fourth grade at Charlotte Ave., banning tag was a tipping point.
"This isn't unique to Nashua," said Chisholm who added that the public needs to know about the pileup of rules for kids and kids' play. "Everything is structured. Kids don't have a chance to go off and be kids anymore," he said.
But for Beaulieu, child safety is a priority; banning tag eliminates an unnecessary risk. According to Beaulieu, kids use different levels of force to tag or touch others during the game. Concerns about injuries have triggered bans on tag in school districts throughout the country.
"The other issue with tag is that students are running and not paying attention to where they are going," explained Beaulieu. "They are often running through other games, and there have been numerous incidents where bystanders have been injured from this type of play."
Chisholm said he was not aware of any injuries that had occurred on the school playground, but he had read on the PTO's Facebook page that one child had suffered a concussion while another child had broken an arm.
"I don't want to take the injury of any child lightly," he said.
Still, he questioned the decision to ban tag for all kids forever.
"What kind of kids will we end up with if all we give them are video games and television?"
Chisholm said tag became an issue when parents complained to school administrators that the game was too rough.
"If kids are being overly aggressive, can't they be taken out of the game?" he asked.
However, PTO members said tag has been banned at Charlotte Ave. for a while, and it's only an issue now because some parents have decided to make it an issue.
No members of the Charlotte Ave. PTO were available or willing to comment on the playground rules. However, one member suggested the tag ban was not a news story and a better topic would be large class sizes at the school.
Chisholm thinks it is an issue worth talking about. He questions the school's solution and its effect on kids.
"I understand that the school is worried about lawsuits and I really don't have an answer," he said. "Maybe parents need to sign a waiver of liability."