Will someone please just let the kids be kids?
A school board in Windham, New Hampshire has removed dodgeball and other “target” games from the mandatory curriculum during gym class because it allegedly encourages bullying and allows for picking on the weaker kids.
A concerned father brought this issue before the school board when his son told him that some of the other kids were bullying him during dodgeball days.
The school board banned “human target” games at a four-to-one vote after a group of physical education teachers investigated the issue. They define those games as “where a player tries to hit an opponent with a ball,” according to WHDH Boston.
“We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence free,” Windham superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche said. “Here we have games where we use children as targets. That seems to be counter to what we are trying to accomplish with our anti-bullying campaign.”
In addition to dodgeball, this measure removes nine other sports from gym class, according to Deadspin.
“I have children who say, ‘I’m really not interested in throwing the ball at another student in my class,’” LaBranche said. “As a mandatory part of the curriculum, we need to take a look at this. I don’t know that 11, 12-year-old youngsters have to learn that lesson at this point in time. I think that maybe there would be another way our curriculum ought to be addressing health, physical fitness, wellness and nutrition besides getting hit by a ball.”
Dennis Senibaldi, the sole board member who voted to keep dodgeball and other games of the like in schools, said one person’s complaint shouldn’t keep an entire class from participation.
“It’s as American as apple pie,” Senibaldi said.
Senibaldi disagreed with the notion that dodgeball encouraged bullying.
“We have rules that are set in place to deal with bullying,” he told the Eagle Tribune. “We don’t need to ban an entire round of games just to enforce those rules.”
Andrew Mead, program manager for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, sided with the majority of the school board.
“It’s an elimination game,” Mead said. “Games like dodgeball and tag don’t keep kids involved and physically active. They objectify slower students who don’t catch as well.”
Dodgeball is still allowed in schools for “charity and voluntary sporting events,” just not as a requirement. Prior to the board’s decision it was a mandatory gym class activity.