South African Pre-schools Outlaw Superheroes

Some pre-primary principals in and around Johannesburg have forbidden action hero and wrestler clothing because of its 'negative influence'.
Astonishingly, three-year-old Jared Sadiq of Kensington, Johannesburg, sustained only a broken leg when he jumped three-stories from his grandmother’s Tongaat flat in late November. Still, the injury surprised him, because he thought he'd be able to fly out the window. Just like Superman.

According to SUBASHNI NAIDOO of The Times, this incident contributed to the move by principals of several prestigious pre-schools to ban all action hero costumes, as well as T-shirts, shorts, toys and shoes depicting comic book superheroes and American professional wrestlers.

Pre-primary principal Gail King actually made her decision after reading about last year's tragic death in England of a child who dove down a flight of stairs wearing his Batman outfit. King conducted a survey at her school, in which teachers said they'd noticed that students wearing character T-shirts and costumes played more aggressively and believed that they were more powerful than their classmates.

"If the child is riding a bike he will ram into another child, or when playing on the lawn they will wrestle and tackle each other," said King. "However the same child wearing a plain T-shirt will not manifest that aggressive behavior."

Not all parents agree. Janine Heyer-Cleave of Cape Town thinks the ban is "completely over the top and unnecessary. What’s wrong with looking up to a figure who helps people and does everything he can to save the world?"

But the principals who support the ban responded that the kids who dress as these world-savers are not old enough to distinguish between "playing" the hero and "being" the hero.

"We tell them that they are not really Batman and that it is only a story, but they are just too young to understand," said King.

Even teacher Michele Vorster, who had used superheroes as an aid to make boys more comfortable with fantasy play, and "to teach [them] the difference between fact and fantasy," ended up banning World Wrestling Entertainment clothing because those kids would "jump on top of other children, grabbing them around their necks. Bashing chairs against someone is not good social behavior for a child."

Education psychologist Pat Govender said that parents and caregivers must keep in mind their child's development stages, and also take more responsibility for their contributions to these behavioral problems. "Parents often use the [character products] as incentives for children if they behave, but do not take the time to explain that it is not reality."

Shahzad Sadiq, who destroyed his son’s superhero DVDs and clothing, believes that Jared has gotten the message. "He has now come to terms with the fact that action heroes are not real and stays away from them."

[Thanks to Occasional Superheroine for the link to The Times article. Thanks also to YOGAS NAIR of The Post (South Africa), and to for the link to that article. Sadiq pic by SIMPHIWE NKWALI.]
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The Times