School Bans Tag At Recess And Childhood Is Officially Dead

It's hard to think of anything more synonymous with childhood than playing tag. But, under a new policy enacted by a Washington state school district, children are no longer allowed to play tag during recess.

The Mercer Island School District, which is located in an affluent (read: snotty) suburb outside of Seattle, said in a statement that the decision was prompted by concerns over the children's emotional well-being. Students, according to a district spokesperson, are "expected to keep their hands to themselves."

And, just like that, childhood is officially dead in America. 

Now, I believe in teaching children that they are in control of their bodies from the cradle to the grave. I am even down with reminding kids that everyone should be on board with playing tag before they start tagging each other. That's a pretty basic expectation, and it promotes the development of social skills, a nuanced understanding of consent, and a respect for bodily autonomy from a very young age.

At a certain point, however, "concern" for the emotional well-being of children begins to sound a little bit lazy. If kids aren't respecting each other's bodies, it's a whole lot easier to ban a game than it is to do the work it requires to teach them these skills. Controlled kids are behaved kids, and I'm sure that someone's job on playground duty just became a whole lot easier. But, let's call a spade a spade here and admit that banning tag has NOTHING to do with the emotional well-being of children.

Healthy, curious, inquisitive children do not "keep their hands to themselves." They are not "seen and not heard." They are loud, boisterous, and exuberant, and they learn through trial and error, mistakes, and even failures. 

Nurturing children's emotional well-being requires many things, but focusing on rigid behavioral standards isn't one of them. Instead, children need room to test boundaries, push buttons, and learn from their mistakes. In Mercer Island, childhood should also include a lesson in standing up for what is right –– to the tune of a whole lot of games of tag. 

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