In an image being circulated on social media, with the name of the school and school officials vaguely redacted (you can almost make them out), a flyer distributed at a pre-school bans school-time play from mimicking TV shows and movies due to their violence. But the central image on the flyer depicts superheroes with a large red bar through the group, conjuring the days of Wertham campaigns. Though it’s possible that this document is some kind of fabrication to generate discussion, there’s no direct evidence that the document is a joke or a forgery, so decide for yourself what kind of implications this may have.

The document states that children’s “imaginations” have become “dangerously overactive causing injuries”. Couldn’t that happen with any kind of make-believe play among children? Isn’t monitoring the level of danger part of a school’s responsibility, rather than unilaterally banning superhero themes in play? The types of games banned are “Wrestling, Super Hero play, and Monster games”, strange phrasing at best. No monsters either? This encompasses pretty much all types of conflict-based games that are fairly deeply rooted in the psyche of childhood. The flyer blames “re-enactment” as the problem, and could be related to the recent release of plenty of action movies like Iron Man 3, but you’d be hard pressed to find a cartoon on a children’s network that doesn’t display many of the same things.

If they aren’t pretending to be a super hero, children will just as easily act out the same types of conflict scenarios through cops and robbers or war games. But putting super heroes at the top of the list is an extreme gesture, and one that displays plenty of ignorance despite the assurance that “safety” is the school’s biggest concern. I’m sure it is. No schools want to see children injured on their grounds, lawsuits aside. But what do you expect from a document that also has typos despite the fact that it’s issued by a school?



Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.






  1. Very upsetting, but hardly surprising. With IM3 in theaters, I’d imagine children that have seen it and are prone to rough housing will use it for their “source material” for a while.

  2. Ridiculous. Attacking a symptom rather than the problem itself, as is becoming far too commonplace in education.

  3. I can’t blame them. Superhero movies are routinely rated PG-13 and superhero comics are full of sex and gore. Teachers are often yelled at by parents for not doing a good enough job of raising children. I’m happy to see some teachers turning the tables on the parents and tell them to monitor the types of entertainment children are absorbing.

  4. And sports, those are really really bad also, because in hockey, sometimes they fight. And that’s bad. And also running is bad, because sometimes people fall. And also, our pets are bad too, because they climb drapes and trees, and our dogs eat bones and raw meat. That can be really bad.

  5. This has to be fake, right? The typos, the huge graphic in a letter to parents…

    Also the utter ridiculousness of the message it contains, but people be crazy, so sadly that alone is not enough to dismiss the letter.

  6. Chris Hero….you can’t blame them???? Are you lost in an Orwellian present we all don’t know about?

    Come on people…anyone who thinks this is a good thing needs to remember that kids have been rough housing, playing good guy/bad guy, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers for over a hundred years. This is nothing more than a few teachers and administrative types who simply do not want to be hassled by children being children.

    The parents of these kids should pull their children in protest until the new policy is dropped…and if it isn’t the school board should be put on notice…find new teachers who aren’t afraid of children…in fact…find teachers who embrace children who want to flex powerful and strong imaginations.

    God help us all….

  7. I am a parent of a 4-year old girl in a Pre-K program. I dutifully monitor her entertainment intake (she has yet to watch anything more violent that My Little Pony) and try to be there to raise her to be a great human being some day.

    So, needless to say, I take umbrage with Chris Hero’s statement. Not all parents expect teachers to raise their kids. In my case, I actively hope they wouldn’t. But all parents expect teachers to provide a safe and healthy environment for their children while they are in the teachers care.

    Any situation where “imaginary play” ends up in “causing injuries” seems to me to be more a problem with the fact that teachers are not monitoring the kids closely enough. I mean, really, if one kid hurts another kid by doing a wrestling move on them, how can that escape a teacher’s notice before it gets to the point were an injury happens?

    Granted, you can say that these teachers might be understaffed and overworked, so they can’t monitor every kid all the time. But if I got this note sent home with my daughter, I’d be much more willing to take my kid out of this program and put them in one with more attentive teachers than change their viewing habits. Because my child would be just as likely to be injured by another, non-imaginary play activity that would slip underneath the teacher notice.

  8. The more I think about this, the more I fully support it. Superheroes today are not the children’s characters of the ’50s. They’re excessively violent and over sexualized for adults who want their childhood imaginary friends to grow up with them.

    Sports have never pretended to be anything they’re not. Football is a game about hitting people as hard as possible to stop them from advancing and no sane person would have their pre-k kids play full-contact football. Why are superheroes any different? Did I see a different version of Iron Man 3 this past weekend where Iron Man was killing people left and right?

    No one’s saying kids can’t have imagination or they can’t play. They’re saying preschool kids can no longer pretend to be superheroes and be overly violent when playing. Kids who shouldn’t be seeing superhero movies or reading superhero comics anyway. The movies are rated PG-13, so the MPAA doesn’t want 5 year old kids watching them either.

  9. Umm … Isn’t this pretty obviously a hoax?

    It’s nothing but a photograph of a notice. There is no identifying informaion and no link to any source. It’s one of those things that show up on Facebook every so often . You know. *Hoaxes.*

  10. Superheroes today are not the children’s characters of the ’50s. They’re excessively violent and over sexualized for adults who want their childhood imaginary friends to grow up with them.

    Superheroes in Marvel and DC comics, written for adults, are overly sexualized, overly violent, etc., and might be for people who want to enjoy the presence of their imaginary friends.

    The superheroes in Super Friends and similar programs are fine, though. Why try to prevent someone from fantasizing about how neat it would be to be able to do ____, even if it’s impossible? An active imagination should be encouraged in a child, not discouraged.

    Superhero morality plays are useless for adults, because the best thing that Superman or Spider-Man could do for his society would be to enable his fellow citizens to solve their own problems. That means equipping them with powers, through technology if nothing else. Then the hero no longer has his burdensome “great responsibility” and so. . . The worst thing about superhero morality plays is that they’re disconnected from the real world. Republicans and Democrats, as groups, both want to help people become self-sufficient. Their approaches to doing that, though, are vastly different.

    If a hero is deliberately written as a moral and ethical paragon, though–a child can admire him for that and aspire to be one. When he gets older, he’ll learn that the world isn’t black and white, but aspiring to be moral and ethical is praiseworthy.


  11. Bill said:
    Any situation where “imaginary play” ends up in “causing injuries” seems to me to be more a problem with the fact that teachers are not monitoring the kids closely enough..

    That’s EXACTLY what the problem is…it has nothing to do with super heroes or parenting…its LAZY TEACHERS who get to hide behind their Union Reps who really don’t give a good *** Damn about the children they watch and teach on a daily basis.

    My mom works for a school district….POOR TEACHING and INNEFECTIVE TEACHING IS THE NORM…and you can’t do anything about it…this is just another excuse for them…and blaming super heroes is just the in thing to do because they are so overly popular right now.

  12. The really sad part is the truly great teachers get lost in the shuffle with all the B.S. and nonsense like this “too active imaginations” crap.

    Great teachers encourage imaginations….poor lazy ones send out flyers with the Justice League on it claiming they are the problem…


  13. Is it a hoax? The name of the school is fairly easily seen to be Tuny Haven. So is it just me that thinks there just might be too much coincidence between Tuny and Toonie? A ‘toonie haven that doesn’t allow superheroes? Really?

  14. Padraig: Amazingly, it’s a real school, as five second of googling would show, but their site’s bandwidth has been exceeded!

    The memo’s provenance of Reddit is still somewhat suspicious in my mind, however.

  15. Also, while people are decrying the “nanny state”—or the nanny school in this case—there does seem to be some sense in banning tots from wild rampaging and injuring one another. Kindergarten isn’t a hockey game. Where we might think they went to far was banning superheroes specifically.

  16. Yeah I was wondering if people were just missing the ages involved here – this isn’t school, it’s PRE-kindergarten/nursery as the leaflet says. (Which also makes the original imgur post a bit iffy as it calls it “school” as well.)

    If 3 and 4 year olds are thumping each other and calling it superhero play then of course a pre-k place – which is essentially day care – is going to ban it if it’s got out of control. Same goes for monster games which are often used for early bullying, and wrestling goes without saying.

    This is not a school. Kids who are 3 and 4 are still not great at communication and discipline when in a group environment, so if Superman is being blamed for why Jill keeps thumping Jack in the face, then yeah. Problem solved til they move up to school and then they can do what they like and understand the consequences better.

    (As an aside, at my primary school various contact games got banned, mostly because there were one or two kids that took it way too far and the parents wouldn’t do anything about it. Never a good idea to immediately start blaming teachers!)

  17. I used to play Captain America in the backyard of my friend’s house and a garbage can lid was used as the shield’s understudy.

    But I got pretty bored with it rather quickly- there’s only so many times you can take getting clobbered with it when you’re always winding up as the designated Red Skull.



  18. Pure stupidity! Just as bad as Seduction of the innocent was with comics. People!!! political correctness = WRONG!!!!!

    Banning Superhero play would remove inspiration to youngsters to be heroic and affect their morality in choosing right and wrong. This is more crap from the left to indoctrinate our kids into being brainless zombies who obey the government’s every word! It is wrong, it stifles kids imaginations and pushes them towards other more violent outlets.

    Fantasy play is normal and natural, they are trying to make our kids less than human beings with this effort. They need to be sued and stopped!

  19. “Superheroes today are not the children’s characters of the ’50s. They’re excessively violent and over sexualized for adults who want their childhood imaginary friends to grow up with them.”

    Yeah. There was that comic, which I thankfully missed, where Nick Fury strangled a guy with his own intestines. (Sean Howe mentions it in his book about Marvel).

    This is how a hero acts? No. It’s how Freddy Kreuger and Jason Vorhees act. But a lot of comics creators — living in a violent fantasy world 24/7, and pandering to aging fanboys who think over-the-top brutality is “cool” — have lost sight of that.

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