It’s pretty standard now that cities around North America have instituted "no playing" laws in various parks, beaches, and other apparatus, usually stemming from a death or serious injury of a play participant.
Most of the time it is understood, or when asked police will straight up tell you, that the signs are merely to cover the city’s own legal interests, and that they will not enforce their rules about no climbing on very climbable structures, jumping into a local swimming hole from a tall rock, or tobogganing down big wide open hills.
However, this legislating of "no play allowed" is damaging in a couple of ways:
1) It teaches people to break or ignore the rules, and
2) More importantly it sends the message to everyone to be wary and scared of either trying to play on slightly to somewhat challenging terrain, or being caught when they do.
It creates a fear state surrounding something that is an innate part of mammalian existence, being able to play and explore your surroundings in a playful manner.
I think it is fair to have a sign saying "hey, look out, you could hurt yourself," but to outright ban it is not productive.
Some of these communities’ members are fighting back against these laws, arguing that legislating us all to safety is not the way to go.
The good folks of Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada, have created a petition to get a "no tobogganing" rule off the books.
What do you think? Do you tend to ignore these kinds of signs? Respect them? Fight them? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.