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New Hampshire Schools Ban Dodgeball to Curb Bullying

Dodgeball
Micah Walter, Getty Images

When you were in school, chances are dodgeball was as big a part of your life as it was in mine. Its almost hard to imagine life without dodgeball on the school playgrounds, but that is exactly what is happening in New Hampshire, where one school district has banned the iconic game because of concerns that dodgeball leads to bullying. In addition to dodgeball, nine other ‘human target’ games have been banned in the Windham, N.H. school district. The reason is because they say those activities encourage violence and a bullying mentality.

The whole thing started with a single parent who complained their child was being bullied while playing dodgeball. Superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche said, “We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence free. 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.”

I am having hard time making the connection between dodgeball and bullying, but I do understand the concerns over the physical nature of the game. Getting hit in the face with one of those big red rubber balls hurts…make no mistake. This is just a game that does require participants to hit someone with a ball, but bullying? I’m not so sure.

Bullying is generally defined as the use of force to intimidate or abuse others. Bullying is unwanted and aggressive behavior that is usually habitual. When you enter a dodgeball game, you have generally done so by choice and you know there is a very good chance you will be hit by someone that you may or may not even know. That is where I think the line gets blurred.

Bullying is one the biggest issues facing schools today and it does need to be addressed and dealt with when it occurs. Banning a game, doesn’t seem to make sense by definition because bullying can occur in any aspect of a school day. It seems to me bullying is more likely to occur when boarding and riding the school bus, or just on the playground during recess. Anytime kids are grouped together, it can happen and sometimes without warning.

Banning these games will not eliminate the problem, I’m not even sure it properly addresses the problem – bottom line, bullies will find a way. The focus needs to be on known and potential bullies, not the games all of the kids play…unless we ban playing altogether, which may not be far behind. What do you think?

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