I just read an article about an Australian study that shows that playground injuries have not abated one bit since we began installing these boring, idiotic injury-proof jungle-gyms. It seems that kids take far more risks in pursuit of fun because the playground equipment is so boring when used as intended.
This brings up the question of are we protecting our kids too much? You see hysterical soccer moms ever day running around with hand sanitizer, long-sleeved swim suits, sports with no scoring, to name a few over-protective things. You've seen them too: people who won't touch anything in a restroom. They squat over the toilet, spraying urine everywhere, they turn on the faucet with their elbows, and the worst of all, open the bathroom door with their nasty, disgusting feet...leaving the facilities far more disgusting for the next person.
Not only are we protecting our kids from each and every skinned knee and sniffle-causing germ, we're preventing them from the very valuable life tool called fear. Our kids are so looked after and doted on, they never learn that running too fast down the street might cause them to fall and skin a knee or elbow because they aren't allowed to run. They never learn that hard work and perserverance are appropriate sources of self esteem because they are never allowed to fail at anything because parents prevent them from experiencing ANY form of discomfort or disappointment. Their immune systems are as fragile as hot-house orchids because mom cleans them constantly with sanitizer and they see her frenzied anti-germ hysteria every time they leave the house.
I grew up before helmets, pads, and hand sanitizer. I got hurt riding my bike, playing ball, running around the neighborhood, and I got sick from time to time. I learned quickly where my limitations were and what was OK to attempt and what was not worth the risk. My mom gave me general safety guidelines but she knew that I would learn those things the hard way and she let me go.
Certainly we should take measures to prevent head injuries and extreme infections, but you have to let kids learn that the world is a dangerous place and they have to be vigilant and careful. How will they learn those lessons if they never skin a knee or have a sniffle?