There must be some sort of magnet in sticks that attract children. I think most parents would know what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter what else is on offer, a stick is almost always capable of enticing a child to pick it up.
And yet, one of the common commands heard in playgrounds is "put that stick down". I'm definitely guilty of enforcing the rule, especially when there are other children around. There is an automatic panic button that goes off to warn of the potential for another child's eyes, ears, mouths, or whatever to be skewered by a stick that one of my sons is wielding.
However, I'm also guilty of having a double standard here. The truth is that I think sticks are great. Not only are they extremely cost effective, they are also one of the most versatile toys around. A single stick can be a sword, pen, spoon, spade, screwdriver, or an arrow. If you had two sticks, they become drumsticks, violins, cellos, chopsticks or the bow AND the arrow. If you have a bunch of sticks, you can build a cubby! Well, thats what I've been told by a group of four year olds that I saw accumulating a huge pile of sticks in one corner of the school playground. So, if we believe in toys that stimulate the imagination and encourage children to be outdoors then, the stick is definitely one of the easiest ones around.
I couldn't find a 'dangerous' picture of my son and a stick but here he is with a beach pen.
There is definitely reason to be worried when children run around crazily with sticks and I don't trust my two sons enough (yet) for them to play with sticks when there are other children around but I think its ok for when we're alone. I can already hear some parents thinking that my message isn't consistent or that I can't have my eyes on my children every second of the day but I think this is a calculated risk that I will take.