Speed Reads

Childhood interrupted

Swings are branded too dangerous for Washington State school district

Yes, elementary schools in Richland, Washington, are bidding farewell to the venerable swing set. The Richland school district is removing the swings from elementary school playgrounds because they are too dangerous — or to be precise, too injurious for the district's insurance companies. And swing sets are probably more dangerous than you realized: About 200,000 kids in the U.S. go to the emergency room each year from swing-related playground injuries, The Associated Press reports, usually from walking in front of or behind a swing in motion.

"It's just really a safety issue," district spokesman Steve Aagard tells KEPR News. "Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment." Some parents are supportive of the move to take out the menacing insurance liabilities. Others remember the joy of learning to pump and soar high in the air — and also perhaps the important life lessons from the bumps and scrapes of childhood. Richland is in south-central Washington, west of Walla Walla.