Has The World Gone Mad Banning Monkey Bars?

The debate surrounding one of Australia's most cherished playground traditions is heating up.

Monkey bars have long been known to pose safety risks to children but there are new calls to permanently ban them.

Healthcare specialists have cited a rise in injuries and more hospital admissions due to falls as the main reasons to remove the playground favourite.

But not everyone is convinced.

Evaluating safety hazards shouldn't mean getting rid of monkey bars forever, senior researcher at Western Sydney University Dr Sebastian Pfautsch told 10 daily.

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"We're becoming increasingly protective in many areas of daily life, including child play," Pfautsch said.

"Risk aversion is not always to the advantage of learning and self-consciousness. Kids need to learn how to manage risk, be aware of their own limitations and judge how their actions may impact on them."

Over 150 Australian children aged 0-14 years are killed and over 68,000 hospitalised each year as a result of unintentional injuries, according to KidSafe Australia.

A 2006-2014 childhood injury report funded by the Western Australia government found while monkey bars counted for 17.9 percent of playground injuries, trampolines were nominally worse at 47.3 percent.

Monkey bars are "up there in the top contributors to injuries", said David Eager, professor of risk management at the University of Technology Sydney.

"Monkey bars were okay when I was a kid 60 years ago, but they’re not an appropriate form of play equipment in 2018," he told Sydney Morning Herald.

Safety hazards might need to be considered but that shouldn't mean getting rid of monkey bars forever, according to Dr Sebastian Pfautsch. Image: Getty.

Pfautsch said monkey bars are excellent for physical activity and encourage children to understand their limitations.

"Just don’t install them too high, don’t make them impossibly long and do place them over sand," he offered.

"They are great exercise and help kids to become self-aware of their physical strength [and] their limits."

Other recommendations include limiting the use of monkey bars to children eight and older, as children under seven generally have insufficient upper body strength.

Another suggestion is the bars be used only as designed --  no standing on top, hanging upside-down, or games that try to knock others off -- and regular safety inspections.

Sydney primary teacher Rima Tahhan told 10 daily she believed monkey bars were great for developing a child's Gross motor skills and upper arm strength.

"Kids will be kids and need to play. The reality is accidents happen, but I don’t think that’s a reason to remove the bars."

Tahhan told 10 daily her school had banned cartwheels because they can be dangerous, especially if they're performed on concrete and not grass.

Schools have gone as far as banning cartwheels for posing a safety risk. Image: Getty.

"Children have hurt themselves doing this, also they have no sense of spacial awareness and they can hurt others on a busy playground."

Sydney mother of three Elisabete Gomes said adults should "let kids be kids".

"[If] schools have banned cartwheels, we need to chain kids to chairs then! Of course they should be able to do cartwheels, my daughter cartwheels everywhere," she told 10 daily.

"I must be odd. People have gone nuts."

Featured image: Getty.

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