The last time we had recess when I was in school was in 6th grade. I loved recess. Some of the girls played hopscotch or jumped rope. Some of the boys played tag or catch. But the rest of the 6th graders played one massive game of dodgeball.
We would play with as many rubber balls as we could find and the competition was fierce. There was only one rule: no headhunting. Other than that, it was no holds barred. I remember going back to class being covered with sweat, some blood and bright red welts.
While the games were intense, and other than pride, I don’t remember anyone getting hurt.
Unfortunately, today, injuries on playgrounds are increasing, and school administrators say a popular Netflix show is to blame.
“Squid Game” is the streaming platform’s biggest series launch ever, and is about a group of financially struggling adults in South Korea playing deadly, gory versions of children’s games in the hopes of winning a substantial cash prize.
Apparently, kids across the country are mimicking these games at recess. “Some children are trying to replicate show scenes at school but what sounds harmless (who didn’t play Red Light/Green Light as a kid?) is not actually harmless because the game in the television show includes “elimination” (death) and we are seeing kids trying to actually hurt each other in the name of this ‘game,’” Bay District Schools in Panama City, Florida, said in a statement. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt and we don’t want to generate discipline referrals for students who don’t really understand what they are re-enacting.”
Dr. Craig Tice, superintendent of the Fayetteville-Manlius School District in New York, which includes the elementary schools Enders Road, Mott Road and Fayetteville, also claims some of their students have been reenacting games from the Netflix hit at recess. His schools’ principals have asked families to speak with their children and “reinforce the school message that games associated with violent behavior are not appropriate for recess.”
“Squid Game” is rated for mature audiences for its use of language, violence, sex, nudity, suicide and smoking, and according to Netflix, “may not be suitable for ages 17 and under.”
It’s not just American schools that are expressing concerns about the suitability of the show’s content for children. Last month, Central Integrated Primary School in the United Kingdom warned parents to “please be aware of what your children are accessing.” The school posted on its Facebook page that “Squid Game” features “mass killings, torture and scenes of a sexual nature.” The school feels the show is “hyper violent and is most definitely not appropriate for primary aged children to be watching.”
In addition to discouraging children from copying the contests on “Squid Game,” schools in Ireland and Spain, along with some stateside, have banned “Squid Game” costumes for Halloween. Fayetteville-Manlius School District has joined their ranks. In a statement to CBS News, Tice indicated that his schools’ principals “wanted to make sure our families are aware that it would be inappropriate for any student to wear to school a Halloween costume from this show because of the potential violent messages aligned with the costume.”
According to a spokesperson for the district, parents were informed of the policy in an email. The policy states that Halloween costumes with items “that can be interpreted as weapons” like toy swords or guns, and costumes that are “too gory or scary” are not allowed at school events.
While it wasn’t a costume, a 6th grade me after an extreme game of dodgeball would have violated this policy.