Outrage: How to respond?

by drfabulous0   January 27, 2014  

So today I received the below letter from my sons' school, needless to say I am in a state of total outrage. Any suggestions to how I might best respond? I'm thinking that although imediately satisfying, a drunken rant may not be the most appropriate course of action.

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I would have thought that 'absolving' the school of liability if your child was involved in an accident whilst in the school grounds would be questionable practice. It's like giving the school permission to injure your child while they are on school property. That's why organisations have public liability insurance. You can be guaranteed that it ceases to offer cover beyond the school gates. Will they be asking families that walk to sign a similar disclosure? Somehow I think not. The solution is to ban cycling within the gates of the school.

When I cycled to primary school, we had to push our bikes from the gates to the bike shed. To dare to be caught on the saddle let alone bring your bike into the playground was to incur the wrath of the headmaster.

As far as not guaranteeing the integrity of a secure area for the bikes surely that is a failure in duty of care especially as they have made provision for the safekeeping of children's property.

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posted by giff77 [1040 posts]
28th January 2014 - 0:17

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Quote:
... needless to say I am in a state of total outrage.

Maybe I am being a bit thick but having read the letter, I still haven't a clue why you are in a state of 'total outrage'.

Any chance of an explanation?

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
28th January 2014 - 0:19

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It is one thing for adults to consent to and choose wearing a helmet or not, but children don't give informed consent. And parents have never had it all their own way in child raising matters, society has always interfered and quite right too. So Sportive rules apply, play by the rules or don't play at all, but feel free to write them a strongly worded letter.

Between the S and the LOW

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posted by bikeboy76 [1189 posts]
28th January 2014 - 0:22

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I see that as pretty reasonable, they are just covering their arses. From my knowledge of parents and the way they view schools and teachers I fully support them in every last little bit of being ridiculous sticklers to the rules. Far too many parents see school as somewhere they can abandon their little shitty horror spawn for as long as possible so they dont have to do any real parenting and also as a cozy way of finding someone to blame and hold responsible for their complete failure in being able to raise a child properly.

I'm not for one second suggesting you are one of those parents by the way.

With my kids I'd insist on wearing a helmet, and I'm vehemently anti helment compulsion for adults. I appreciate that could be seen as hypocritical.

I would let the malevolent side of me create an extra box that states whilst I take resposibility for my child riding to school without a helmet, I would hold the school, and the head personally, 100% to blame for any incident caused by them allowing cars to exceed speed limits, parking in restricted areas and innapropriately sized vehicles such as 4x4s and other such twatwagons from Bramhall etc.

posted by farrell [1319 posts]
28th January 2014 - 0:59

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Yup, if you're outraged at that then perhaps you need to reassess your outrage parameters.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
28th January 2014 - 0:59

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No problem. I personally think children should be encouraged to wear helmets and for them to indemnify themselves if the child doesn't is reasonable. Especially if you want them to wear a helmet, they then go home without it, injure themselves and then you blame the school. Blame the letter on the parents, not the school.

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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posted by jmaccelari [144 posts]
28th January 2014 - 7:34

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Yes, that comma after "Parents" is a disgrace.

posted by msw [125 posts]
28th January 2014 - 7:34

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My wife is a schoolteacher, and her thoughts are that the school is following government advice. If the government view changes, then so will the school's.

So petition the government to change their stance Smile

Regarding the security of the bike - my company has the same policy. I have a proper lock. Schools run on a very tight budget and simply don't have the cash to keep replacing bicycles.

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

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posted by goggy [87 posts]
28th January 2014 - 9:09

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GoingRoundInCycles wrote:
Quote:
... needless to say I am in a state of total outrage.

Maybe I am being a bit thick but having read the letter, I still haven't a clue why you are in a state of 'total outrage'.

Any chance of an explanation?

Me neither!

If it really is just about the school holding the view that helmets contribute to safety, (they are not even mandating their use), then as another poster said, maybe you need to recalibrate your outrage parameters!

I can only imagine the state of anger you're in, when watching pro cyclists being forced to wear helmets, or walking into actual shops where they're sold. Shelves full of them! Arrgh!

posted by 700c [556 posts]
28th January 2014 - 9:11

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kids should wear a helmet, when they're old enough to make their own decision then they can decide for themselves. Don't be a chump!

posted by southseabythesea [65 posts]
28th January 2014 - 9:55

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No they "shouldn't" if the parent decides not too then that "should" be accepted and respected...

posted by northstar [1086 posts]
28th January 2014 - 10:00

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msw wrote:
Yes, that comma after "Parents" is a disgrace.

And the letter being addressed to - Parent/Carer - is also outrageous. T hese words are not proper nouns as any fule kno.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
28th January 2014 - 10:29

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Interesting... I get it. I can imagine with the amount of lobbying from the school for parents not to drive their kids in unless they have to... i.e. find alternative methods of transport, such as... the bicycle, there is an argument that the school is 'forcing' kids to cycle.

Its not a long legal journey to then say its the schools fault when kids have accidents travelling to school by bike.

I'm not sure this will really cover their backsides from such claims, but I guess its covering their duty of care sufficiently for their insurers to pay out in such cases.

I like the comment about the school inadvertently accepting liability for kids wearing helmets, I'd like to explore that further.

As for helmet use, lets not cover this ground again. Interestingly I'm all but anti-helmet, however if I'm taking my 6 year old for a cycle, I'll ask her to helmet up. Seems sensible, however, if I am honest, she has never banged her head once from plenty of falls...

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [220 posts]
28th January 2014 - 10:34

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I'm no medical expert but i thought i would have a quick read up on a childs skull. Whilst the chld is young (upto 18 months) the sutures in the skull are still open and soft - obviously not the age we are looking at here.

As the child grows so does the skull but its not until they are older that the sutures fuse together - usually once the brain has stopped growing but they do get smaller as the child grows.

So taking this into account the child still has soft spots in the skull when they are at an age to start cycling. Personally speaking i would get my child to wear a helmet at this stage and both my kids still do.

If it has come from Govt then they are not alone. In the USA the centre for disease control and prevention makes the same point and the brain injury assoc of america validates the points made regarding children and brain injuries.

I found this on the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, who i think might know a thing or two about head injuries and its a straight cut and paste from their website.

"Every year, more than 500,000 people visit emergency rooms in the United States with bicycle-related injuries. Of those, nearly 85,000 were head injuries in 2009. There are about 600 deaths a year, with two-thirds being attributed to TBI. It is estimated that up to 85 percent of head injuries can be prevented through proper usage of The Snell Memorial Foundation, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-approved helmets. It is essential that the helmet fit properly so that it doesn't fall off while the user is riding or if he or she takes a fall".

The following facts/statistics are from Safe Kids USA:
■Head injury is the leading cause of wheeled sports-related death and the most important determinant of permanent disability after a crash.
■Without proper protection, a fall of as little as two feet can result in a skull fracture or other TBI.
■Approximately 50 percent of U.S. children between 5- and 14-years-old own a helmet, and only 25 percent report always wearing it while bicycling.
■Universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent 45,000 head injuries.
■Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent and severe brain injury by 88 percent.
■Eight states and the District of Columbia require children to wear a helmet while participating in wheeled sports such as riding on scooters, in-line skates or skateboards.

Feel free to poo poo what i've typed but i've added it just to make people aware of whats said in other countries and NOT to start a helmet debate.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2675 posts]
28th January 2014 - 13:48

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I can't see why anyone would get upset with this?

The school is doing the right thing in this regard.
They cannot force kids to wear helmets as there isn't a law in which they can use to do so.

By making a big deal of this the school will just turn around and say no cycling at all to school because of people like yourself making a big deal out of it.

Sorry to be harsh but I deal with schools and parents are at times the most annoying/ troublesome people in the world when it comes to thinking they know best.

posted by blablablacksheep20 [49 posts]
28th January 2014 - 13:53

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Am with the overwhelming majority here in just not seeing this as something to get outraged about, let alone needlessly so...

Even if you're vehemently in the anti-helmet camp as far as adults are concerned, it's surely just common sense amongst kids? I see it exactly the same way as this:

glynr36 wrote:
Chances are for the majority of the instances of how kids come off bikes (ignoring getting hit by a car) it's actually within the range of what a helmet is effective for.

In regard to the bit about not taking liability for the bike itself, I don't see how this is any different to leaving a bike locked up elsewhere, or your car in the office/supermarket car park? It'll presumably be insured should it get nicked anyway.

posted by parksey [184 posts]
28th January 2014 - 14:22

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It actually seems pretty sensible to me. I'm quite surprised that it's not just a blanket "all children cycling to school must wear helmets". That's what I had when I started cycling to secondary school almost 25 years ago.

posted by graham_f [91 posts]
28th January 2014 - 14:31

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Yep...I've also failed to locate any potential source of outrage in that. It seems entirely reasonable and simply the school trying to ensure children's safety.

What am I missing?

posted by jellysticks [80 posts]
28th January 2014 - 14:46

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I don't see the fuss in all this. The school are just asking you as a parent to confirm your wishes regarding your child cycling to school. Do you want them to wear a helmet or are you ok with them going without? If you are then the school accepts no liability to any injury due to them not wearing a helmet. As i read that it is ONLY going to be head injuries that they are not liable for. Anything that a helmet wouldn't have prevented isn't covered by the statement. So why the fuss?

Personally I don't understand why the school could possibly be liable for your child being injured on their way to/from school by bike, foot or otherwise, but then i guess I am old enough to remember that sh*t happens and sometimes that is just bad luck rather than someones fault so you can blame and claim.

posted by md6 [154 posts]
28th January 2014 - 15:05

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posted by farrell [1319 posts]
28th January 2014 - 15:10

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posted by northstar [1086 posts]
28th January 2014 - 15:15

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"kids should wear a helmet, when they're old enough to make their own decision then they can decide for themselves. Don't be a chump!"

northstar wrote:
No they "shouldn't" if the parent decides not too then that "should" be accepted and respected...

There is a limit to personal freedom to do what you like with your kids. For example, I do not believe that parents should have the right to withhold potentially lifesaving treatment from their children because it conflicts with their personal beliefs, religious or otherwise.

The courts have agreed and for example overruled the decision of Jehovah's Witness parents to withhold life saving treatment for their child. I totally agree with this. When the kid is old enough to make an informed decision, then I have no problem with him/her refusing a blood transfusion etc.

Accepted and respected? Accepted very grudgingly but I could not ever respect parents who are too stupid to acknowledge the facts that the skulls of children are relatively soft and even a minor fall can have more serious consequences for a child than an adult. Why take the risk, no matter how small?

I wouldn't let my girls skateboard, rollerskate, snowboard or ski without wearing adequate protection and I don't see why cycling should be any different.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
28th January 2014 - 15:29

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Slightly off topic there...

Quote:
Accepted and respected? Accepted very grudgingly but I could not ever respect parents who are too stupid to acknowledge the facts that the skulls of children are relatively soft and even a minor fall can have more serious consequences for a child than an adult. Why take the risk, no matter how small?

I wouldn't let my girls skateboard, rollerskate, snowboard or ski without wearing adequate protection and I don't see why cycling should be any different.

If you can't accept it, that's your "problem", kids aren't always going to learn the dangers of everything if they are wrapped up in safety gear.

You don't need to go on about the skulls, fully aware of it and the consequences of the minor fall but this lack of tolerance to a different view is very disturbing.

posted by northstar [1086 posts]
28th January 2014 - 16:13

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kids dont have to get hurt to understand the dangers of things and by putting them in protective gear such as a helmet isn't going to make them into Evil Knievel.

Proper parenting works wonders.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2675 posts]
28th January 2014 - 17:17

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Hmmm, I refer to an old argument banded about in helmet debates about the real risk compared to the perceived risk.

As mentioned, my daughter has (touch wood) never banged her head falling off her bike, despite wearing a helmet. That is not through luck, that is the nature of self preservation, of the evolution of the human body to not land on its head if possible.

The point being that rather than being lucky not to hurt your head when cycling, the reality is that should you bang your head, you have been very unlucky.

However, people get unlucky, kids get unlucky, and if wearing a helmet helps litigate against bad luck then great... but its not necessary to your child's survival.

Its like helmets for toddlers. Most get by fine without them.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [220 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:31

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So... for what it's worth, there isn't any good evidence of efficacy of helmets in children. I don't know of studies that focused on them especially though, so it's just an unknown, however the general, overall evidence for efficacy isn't that great, so I wouldn't place too much faith in helmets.

I would strongly advocate other means of risk-reduction, rather than relying on helmets. Even if you make your children wear a helmet, deal with them (education, constraints, etc.) as if they're *not*. This, hopefully, is obviously sensible advice.

posted by Paul J [561 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:44

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Jimmy, i agree with you here. Everyone agrees about the limitations of helmets but with a kids head being softer until its formed completely then the risk is greater, but lets not get into an arguement over it Wink

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2675 posts]
28th January 2014 - 18:45

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Jimmy: One problem with helmets is that it is not true that they /always/ help.

A helmet makes the head much larger, which means it can turn a miss (no impact at all) into an actual blow - in such cases the helmet actually causes harm. Further, any rotational blow will /always/ have its leverage increased by a helmet. You have to balance those effects against the somewhat limited impact protection a basic EN1078 helmet gives, over the fairly sturdy brain-case evolution provided us to protect the brain from impaction.

Each should make their own assessment of these trade-offs (or their parents/ward for children).

posted by Paul J [561 posts]
28th January 2014 - 19:01

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My own daft physics is that with kids being lighter moving slower and being nearer the ground, the helmets might be of more use than to adults.

I do believe that until they are teenagers, they should wear them.....just in case.

My own kids wear the hard shell type.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [490 posts]
28th January 2014 - 21:46

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Isnt there a simple answer to this.

If a parent says to a child wear a helmet, WEAR ONE RESPECT YOUR OLDIES....

If a parent says to a child don't wear a helmet, WEAR ONE REBEL AGAINST YOUR OLDIES.

problem sorted. point is, by focusing the attention on the school your just going to cause them to be like "too much hassle getting kids involved in cycling, screw this"....
a sad day for all.

posted by blablablacksheep20 [49 posts]
29th January 2014 - 14:08

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