Trampolines - bouncy fun or an accident waiting to happen?
I hadn't. I had merely said that I would prefer it if my own little boy – who was five at the time – did not go on the leisure-centre sized trampoline they'd installed in their postage-stamp sized suburban garden.
"But it was Josh's birthday present," she replied a little tartly, "We set it up especially for the party."
"Sorry," I said, refusing to back down, "But I am really not keen on trampolines and I would rather Will did not go on it."
I imagine she and the other mums raised their eyebrows and rolled their eyes as I bade my goodbyes and left my son to enjoy the other party entertainments – ones which I felt would be less likely to result in a broken arm or chipped tooth or him bouncing over the boundary wall and into a neighbouring garden.
Over-zealous parenting? Wrapping my son up in cotton wool? Maybe, but four years on from that party scenario I hold exactly the same beliefs, and so it seems do the professionals
Earlier this week, Susannah Briskin, an American pediatric sports medicine specialist strongly cautioned against the use of home trampolines, and co-authored an update to a report on their safety.
There were an estimated 98,000 (approx) trampoline-related injuries in the United States in 2009, resulting in 3,100 hospitalisations, and the rates of trampoline-inflcted injuries appear higher for children than adults. Figures that have resulted in Dr Briskin stating that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 'strongly discourages use of a home trampoline' because 'it bears significant injury risk - especially when somersaults are performed or there are multiple jumpers on the mat at one time.'
And it is just this which fuels my ban – at a party, there is no way children are going to queue up nicely and jump one at a time. It will be an all-in free-for-all, and impossible to supervise or govern.
Something my friend Emma has first-hand experience of – her son, the same age as mine, ended up with a broken arm after falling off a trampoline on which other children were bouncing, their combined weight propelling him off the edge as he tried to get off.
Another friend ended up in hospital after being bounced off a trampoline and into a rotary washing line, ending up with lacerated arms.
Anecdotes which all serve to convince me I am right in not letting my son on them. Even if some of my friends disagree with me, saying their trampolines are 'lifesavers' for burning off their kids' excess energy, and a 'must-have' in the garden in the summer. But then perhaps they have not read the AAP report which explains how 'young children are at the most risk for significant injury, specifically children under age five', citing that 48 percent of injuries in this age group resulted in fractures or dislocations.
'Although most trampoline injuries are sprains, strains, contusions, or other soft tissue injury, younger children seem to be more prone to bony injury,' the report's authors write, stating also that falls from trampolines accounted for 27 percent to 39 percent of all injuries.
In 2009, doctors from Kingston Hospital in Surrey made public their concerns over trampoline safety after seeing a surge in the number of children they were treating after accidents involving them – particularly from apparatus which was installed without a safety net surrounding it. Something ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) strongly advises parents to fit if they choose to get a trampoline.
But safety net or not, a trampoline will not be darkening (or indeed ruining) my lawn any time in the future – even thought my son (now nine) has expressed an interest in getting one for the past few summers.
When he goes to parties now, I have relaxed the rules a bit and his friends know that he is now allowed on as long as it's a one-at-a-time, one child on, one child off set up. Which, oddly enough, following a spate of accidents and injuries since I first implemented my eye-role inducing rule four years ago, is a policy most parents of my acquaintance now seem more than happy to uphold. And one I'd urge everyone else to follow too.
Do you think trampolines are dangerous?
Or do you think we try and protect our kids too much from rough and tumble fun?