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British school bans tag, says it’s ‘too rough’ for children

Children playing tag. (pseudoplacebo/Flickr)
November 12, 2019

A primary school in the United Kingdom has banned children from playing the timeless game of tag for being “too rough” on them.

After also banning leapfrog for similar reasons, Joanne Smith, the headmistress at the Rudyard Kipling Primary School & Nursery in Brighton wrote to parents in a letter about the new “Gentle Hands” policy the school will enforce on its students, The Times reported.

“To clarify, ‘gentle hands’ does not mean ‘no touching’. The children are, of course, allowed to hold hands or play clapping games with a friend should they wish to,” Smith wrote in the letter.

It’s not exactly clear how long clapping games will be allowed on the school grounds, either. Oxford University banned clapping this fall because it could “trigger anxiety,” Metro reported.

Unsurprisingly, parents at the school were outraged over the new policy.

The traditional playground games are “essential life skills,” one parent said, that help children learn how to interact with others.

“Children need opportunities to get upset with each other and work it out. These are essential life skills,” the parent added.

“Sometimes, I don’t even know what planet Brighton is on,” a mother of a 10-year-old at the school told the Times of London.

“They’re banning children from playing tag—why on earth would anyone thing (sic) tag is a bad thing? I’m going to teach my son about another game instead, that’ll really scare the snowflake headteacher—kiss-chase.”

Another parent said the step went too far, saying “The game is played everywhere, it doesn’t need any instructions, it is naturally instinctive for children to play. The school has gone about this completely the wrong way.”

The school received a “good” rating after its regular inspection from the U.K. education department, but noted several rough play incidents on the playground, a spokesman said.

“With the full support of our staff and our Parents Teachers and Friends Association, we have reminded the children of our ‘Gentle Hands’ rule during break and lunchtimes,” the spokesman said.

“We have shown the children a number of new games they can play. The children are already having lots of fun playing these new games. The children are, of course, allowed to hold hands and play their own games.”