Recently, some students in School District 27 got in trouble following a snowball fight.
Indeed some schools within the district, specifically forbid snowball fights in their handbook or rules of conduct.
Obviously, snowball fights have a dangerous component, there’s no real dispute there.
I’m sorry but there are a number of reasons to allow snowball fights outside of the activity being as Canadian as beavers, toonies and Tim Hortons.
By forbidding the activity altogether, clearly, schools are trying to avoid legal responsibility in case something goes wrong. However, what it also does is forgo teaching children to take responsibility for their own actions. Rather, the only thing children are likely to learn from the ban is that snowball fights are an activity they’re not allowed to do at school.
Teaching children responsibility for their actions should primarily fall to the parents, but the school setting provides the unique opportunity of a very large social gathering that, especially in rural areas such as School District 27, parents may not frequently experience with their children.
As evidenced in the most recent case of what seems to be an otherwise excellent group of students participating in a snowball fight, it’s something students are going to do regardless. Even if they’re wise enough not to do so at school, they’re likely to do so after school when there may be less supervision or immediate help in the event that something should go wrong.
If rather than an outright ban, we asked students, under the guidance of a teacher, to come up with rules instead (i.e. don’t throw at students who don’t want to play, don’t throw at other students’ heads, don’t throw snowballs with rocks or sticks), it’s hard to see how it would be more dangerous than playing softball where students throw a firm ball at other students.
Additionally, it would keep them safer if they engage in snowball fights outside of the school setting.
It would also teach them that if they get an idea for a new game or activity, and that game or activity is not covered by the current school bans and has a greater potential for injury than a snowball fight, that they should stop and think first about what rules they can come up with to make sure that new game or activity is safe to play.
Snowball fights being banned outright is doing our children and students a disservice just to avoid any legal responsibility.