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Safe or extreme? Toronto school bans hard balls

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A Toronto school is officially a Nerf-only zone until further notice.

A letter issued on Monday from the administration at Earl Beatty Jr. and Sr. Public School states that kids can't bring or play with any kind of hard ball - i.e. soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs or tennis balls, according to a CTV report.

"Any balls brought will be confiscated and may be retrieved by parents from the office," CTV reports the statement said. "The only kind of ball allowed will be nerf balls or sponge balls."

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The temporary ban was made after parents voiced concerns over the safety of the traditional playthings.

Apparently, the school has had some serious incidents "where students, staff or parents were hit, or nearly hit, by a hard ball on school property," reports CTV.

It's a complicated question in a culture that's struggling with how to keep kids fit and playing sports - while also keeping them safe. The case comes on the heels of the death of an Edmonton teen after a hockey puck hit him in the throat.

But banning a sport or ball isn't a popular position to take, no matter how severe the potential injury is.

Most observers chided the educators at a junior school in Gloucester who banned soccer balls from the playground in September.

At the time, Freerange Kids advocate Lenore Skenazy wrote about the case on her blog: "Sort of like childhood itself: That time of daring and doing gradually being replaced with a squishy-safe facsimile of adventure," she writes.

The Toronto ban on soccer, football and volleyballs, however temporary, clearly will not be the last of its kind, however.

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In the case of hockey, better padding may be the answer to puck injuries. But in the case of playground sports, what's the best way to keep kids safe?

Could the answer lie in better rules and sportsmanship training? Is banning hard balls in schools playing it safe or extreme?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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