I am never at a loss for amazement when it comes to the stupidity of inane parents. It has been hot in New York City this week. The streets are hot. Sand on the beach is hot. Black rubber playground mats are hot. Those basic facts of living still do not appear to scare some parents into proactively protecting their children from running around barefoot and getting burned when that danger to life and limb is completely avoidable by invoking common sense and human decency.
Why do so many parents turn the finger of blame for their lack of common sense care for their children — like requiring them to wear shoes on a hot day — and try to blame the city for the consequences of their own bad behavior?
Parents in New York City said their children are getting their feet burned while playing on blistering hot playgrounds.
The parents and their supporters said more than a dozen children are scorched each year by hot playground equipment, particularly by black mats under jungle gyms and sliding boards. They said the city is ignoring a public health and safety issue.
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said signs have been posted in playgrounds warning against going barefoot. He said his department was not going to remove the mats, calling the city’s playgrounds “the safest in the world.”
Everyone knows the urban core is hotter than the suburbs.
Everyone knows asphalt, dark cars and black rubber mats heat up faster in the sun than lighter-colored materials.
So do we blame the mat makers? The City of New York? Or do we rightfully blame the parents of these children that are getting burned under the non-watchful eye of their uninvested protectors?
Dr. Kate Cronan, a pediatric emergency physician at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and a senior editor at KidsHealth.org, said in a phone interview that she had not encountered many examples of foot burns from safety surfaces, and she agreed that shoes are essential for children.
“It’s not just the mats,” said Dr. Cronan, who has no involvement with New York City playground design. “I recommend to parents that their kids need to keep those shoes on. They’ll be climbing up rungs, monkey bars, jungle gyms. To take shoes off creates a slippery situation. And I always advise that children must wear shoes, not flip-flops: they’re cute and fun, but can slip off your feet easily. That’s a recipe for a fall.”
Dr. Cronan said she had seen cases of children with red or irritated feet from walking across hot asphalt on streets, in parking lots and in driveways, but added: “You have to have more contact than just like grabbing a handle to see a burn injury from a piece of equipment. On the hottest days of the year, when those pieces of equipment are too hot, the kids tend to not even want to be on the playground for a long period. Momentary grabbing of something that’s hot shouldn’t be enough time for exposure. It’s not like touching a flame, or something that would burn more quickly.”
When will common sensibility return to parenting?
Or are we already too far down the slippery slope with a second lost generation of parents that repeatedly fail to begin to step up and own their actions and their children’s welfare while simultaneously expecting the government to protect them from every bad decision and prevent them from achieving their negligent wants and whimsies?