Helmets, Face Masks May Make Hockey Players Feel Invulnerable

March 15, 1995 3 min read

Mandatory helmets and face masks give young ice hockey players a false sense of security, encouraging more aggressive play and increasing the risk of neck and spinal injuries, a study out this month concludes.

Though the safety gear has dramatically reduced the incidence of eye, face, and dental injuries in recent years, neck and spinal injuries are on the rise, says the article by Canadian researchers in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics.

“Players now perceive themselves to be immune to injury and are willing to take risks with respect to their personal safety and that of their opponents,” write Teena M. Murray and Lori A. Livingston, both of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Referees have become less strict in enforcing game rules because they perceive a reduced threat of physical harm from violations, the authors say.

They argue that the face and head gear means players do not recognize--and no longer respect--their opponents as human beings. That, they say, has prompted an increase in inappropriate use of the hockey stick.

“The false sense of security provided by the equipment worn and a ‘win at all costs’ attitude,” the authors write, “has proven costly for too many young hockey players.”

Curious George, the beloved monkey from the children’s book series, will use his inquisitive talents to teach children about nutrition and food labels through a series of public-service advertisements.

The television and radio campaign was developed with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration.

“What we want to do is teach every American child about the food label,” H.H.S. Secretary Donna E. Shalala said in a statement. “If young children learn to use the label, they will have a tool for life when it comes to nutrition and good health.”

The ads, aimed at children ages 4 to 10, will begin airing later this month--in both English and Spanish--during children’s programs. Fifty-five commercial and cable-television networks, including 25 Spanish networks, have agreed to air them.

A companion brochure is available at no charge from the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.

Two former U.S. surgeons general are among the doctors who have signed a statement warning members of Congress that it would be medically foolish to curtail federal food programs, including school lunches.

The House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee last month passed a bill that would repeal the school lunch and breakfast programs and the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

The programs would be replaced with lump-sum payments or block grants to the states to run their own similar programs.

Former Surgeons General Julius B. Richmond and Joycelyn Elders signed the statement, along with about 140 physicians from all 50 states. It says block grants would remove key federal nutrition standards, cut available funding by billions of dollars, and threaten the health of children.

Pediatricians should support a “zero tolerance” policy on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in their local schools, according to a policy statement out this month from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The use of drugs and alcohol also should not be permitted at any activities sponsored or sanctioned by schools, said the organization’s Committee on Substance Abuse. Penalties should be clearly defined and enforced, the panel said.

A new guide from the California School Boards Association offers an overview of issues related to teaching about and coping with AIDS.

The booklet offers advice on condom availability, political issues, and characteristics of effective curricula on AIDS and H.I.V., the virus that causes it. The guide also outlines specific components of the state-required H.I.V./AIDS curriculum, and provides sample policies and regulations.

Copies of “Saving Lives: AIDS Issues for California Schools” may be ordered for $14.96 each, including shipping and handling, from the C.S.B.A., P.O. Box 1660, West Sacramento, Calif. 95691; (916) 371-4691 or (800) 266-3382.

--Millicent Lawton

A version of this article appeared in the March 15, 1995 edition of Education Week as Helmets, Face Masks May Make Hockey Players Feel Invulnerable