I thought the recent stories about Santa's gender were over the top but this one beats it hands down.

A professor from Australia is calling for monkey bars to be banned. People are going ape about it and so they should.

David Eager, professor of risk management at the University of Technology in Sydney, says monkey bars are "an extremely dangerous piece of equipment".

On television yesterday morning he talked about the alternative and how expensive it was.

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But who cares. Even if the alternative was cheap as chips — leave the monkey bars alone.
I can remember hanging upside down with my school pals in the playground at Mayfair School, there may have even been concrete under us, and sliding down steel slides that were hot as hell at playgrounds — guess what — I survived to tell the tale.

Monkey bars come in all shapes and sizes and are fun and challenging, they teach you balance and if you fall you get up and have another go.

Honestly, if monkey bars are banned they might as well close down all playgrounds, cut down any trees that are suitable for children to climb, take all the hydro slides from pools — it is absolutely ridiculous.

According to Wikipedia "the first jungle gym was invented in 1920 and patented by lawyer Sebastian Hinton, in Chicago. It was sold under the trademarked name Junglegym. The term 'monkey bars' appears at least as far back as the 1930s, though Hinton's initial patent of 1920 appeals to the 'monkey instinct' in claiming the benefits of climbing as exercise and play for children."

There you go — the benefits of climbing as an exercise. Not to mention the fun, it also builds agility and strength.

I find it really hard to fathom that at a time when more and more children are overweight because they sit on the couch with devices, that someone could even suggest getting rid of such a popular piece of playground equipment.

It's hard enough now to get some children outdoors — when they do venture out, play needs to be fun — otherwise why would they bother.

I'd like to know what the professor thinks they should be replaced with. Let me guess— some nice comfy seats, maybe some bean bags, that will ensure they are nice and safe and don't go home with any scratches or bruises.

Yes, children fall off monkey bars and hurt themselves, so what. They fall off their bikes and scooters — should we get rid of them? Of course not.

I've been to many playgrounds around Hawke's Bay and apart from the swings the monkey bars are one of the first things my grandies head for.

When they were younger I would hold their legs while they swung their arms from one bar to the next. If they managed to do one or two by themselves they were proud of that achievement, happy that they had finally done it.

I didn't see enough of the programme to find out if he had been successful in removing this play equipment from Australian playgrounds. I suspect he would have got a bit of pushback from the Aussies — I hope so.

We Kiwis are very happy swinging around the playground thank you very much.

Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.