Student Well-Being

Citing Bullying, District Bans ‘Human-Target Games’ Like Dodgeball

By Bryan Toporek — March 28, 2013 1 min read
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Can banning dodgeball cut down on bullying in schools? The Windham (N.H.) school district is about to find out.

The Windham school board voted 4-1 this month to ban dodgeball and other “human-target games” from the curriculum, citing the possibility of students ganging up on a particular student during such games.

A 2006 position statement from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) says dodgeball “is not an appropriate activity for K-12 school physical education programs,” as it provides “limited opportunities for everyone in the class, especially the slower, less agile students who need the activity the most.” While the association acknowledged that dodgeball does “provide a means of practicing some important physical skills,” it notes that other games allow for similar skills without the use of humans as targets.

The Windham district had an assistant principal and a committee of physical education teachers evaluate the role of human-target games in its own curriculum (10 in total), specifically in regard to NASPE’s six national standards for physical education. While seven of the 10 games in question met the NASPE standards, the committee concluded that NASPE’s opposition to human-target games “supersedes any and all curriculum standards that are met with these games as currently designed,” according to its report to the board.

When the board took up the issue of human-target games earlier this month, two members brought up bullying as a potential issue to consider. According to the meeting minutes, board member Michelle Farrell voiced concerns about students ganging up on other students, while board member Stephanie Wimmer said that if some students didn’t want to participate in dodgeball or other target games, they’re singled out from the rest of their classmates.

“We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence-free,” said Windham Superintendent Henry LaBranche to

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.