Playgrounds are supposed to be fun. They are a place for kids to go, relax, get away from all the stresses in their life, like too many cartoons, uncooperative juice boxes, and difficult coloring books. And modern playgrounds are amazing! When I was growing up, we had non-slippery slides that were made of pure, heat-catching metal. You would get stuck halfway down and burn the backs of your legs and it was great. These days, they have fancy plastic slides greased up with technology. Kids can hit 45 mph going down those suckers. Basically, playgrounds were great back in the day and they are even better now.
Playgrounds are supposed to be fun havens of innocence. But, sometimes, the adult world can creep into the adolescent world and make things downright ugly. When upsetting reminders of violence, sex, and intolerance are left out for all to view in the street, it is a shame. When those things encroach on the haven of naiveté, the playground, the juxtaposition is tragic. The outside world has made its presence known on the playground since playgrounds came into existence, but the impositions have only gotten more crude.
When I was a kid, you would occasionally find a cigarette or a beer bottle left behind on the swing set by some rebellious teenagers the night before. If you found something really wild, it would be maybe a Playboy left by your older brother. But just as the playgrounds have gotten more extreme since then, the paraphernalia has increased in its audacity.
There are almost too many gross things found on playgrounds to count. These are the most disturbing, and they will absolutely shock you!
15. Razor Blades
Getting all the way across the monkey bars is hard enough as it is. Now, imagine you are swinging across, almost to the other side, your little kid muscles are straining. Just one more bar and you’re there. You reach out to grab the bar and….razor blade! Not only do you not make it all the way across, but your palm is now gashed and bloody, and you probably have to get a tetanus shot. Talk about a crappy day at the park. And this is not even an isolated incident! Razor blades have reportedly been hidden on playground equipment, intentionally hidden to injure children, in multiple parks over the last few years.
This dangerous prank has turned up at parks in San Diego, Philadelphia, Moline, and Oro Grande, California. For this to happen once is bad. The fact that it keeps happening is ridiculous! I mean, we all hate children, but you can’t go around trying to physically hurt them.
14. Loaded Guns
How many times has this happened to you? You’re getting ready for the day, you get dressed, you had breakfast, you’re about to head out the door but first you go to grab your loaded gun, when all of a sudden you remember, you left it on the playground! If you’re not a crazy person, then this has happened to you approximately zero times. But, somewhere out there, there are some responsible gun owners who have left their firearms on the playground.
Like the razor blades, this is not a one time occurrence; it keeps happening. Sometimes, the guns are inoperable, sometimes they are loaded and ready to go. But the one thing that is constant in every case, the guns were left on the playground by a moron. I mean, they either forgot it there, which is dumb because guns are expensive, or they hid it there, which is dumb because a place where kids dig around and look for things is not a great hiding spot. Dumb.
Okay, this one is just nasty. Sure, the occasional dog bomb can be common in any grassy area. We just accept that. When we go outside, occasionally we will see dog poop. People are supposed to clean it up, but sometimes they don’t. But, when you are in a park or the playground and you see a big man dump, it is just so, so much worse.
It takes a special type of person to choose to poop outside. I don’t even like going if I’m not at home in my own bathroom. But what kind of person poops outside and deliberately poops in a playground? A crazy person, that’s who (or a homeless person, I guess)! It happens all the time, too.
Sometimes its high school kids pulling a prank, like one time in Hope Mills, N.C., when an 18-year-old was caught in the act on security cameras. In one case, it was what the police labeled a “serial pooper”. This guy (I assume its a guy, but hey ladies can poop too) has struck the same park 5 times in the last few months!
12. Used Condom
Seriously, people? This is why we can’t have nice things. What are all the steps and poor decisions that are necessary in order for a used condom to wind up on a playground? Was someone having sex on the playground? Do people have see-saw fetishes? Is slide sex a thing? Or, did someone have sex, take off their condom, tie it up, put it in their pocket, walk around with it, and then happen upon a playground and think, “Hey, that’d be a great place to throw that used condom I’m carrying in my pocket”? Who does that, besides Charlie Sheen?
I’m not sure people realize that playgrounds are a place where kids play. It’s not used condom storage. In one particularly stomach churning instance, a 5-year-old in Fort Pierce, Florida was playing on his elementary school playground, then walked up to his teacher, while chewing on a used condom. The playground was shut down, and hopefully the teacher got a raise.
Asbestos is a material that was once used as insulation in home and building construction until it was discovered that inhaling the fibers caused a type of cancer called mesothelioma. So, of course it was found on a playground!
At a playground in Wales, a horrified dad noticed asbestos, in plain sight, on a playground. The asbestos was being used as filler around the rocking horse. It really gives a kid extra incentive to hold on for dear life while on the horse. Fall off, and you are face first in a cancer causing, toxic material.
Asbestos on playgrounds used to be pretty common. Up until the 1970s, most playgrounds were constructed using material containing asbestos. It has been cleaned up in the last few decades, but apparently some parts of the UK didn’t receive the memo. Alert the Queen!
10. Racist Graffiti
If you’ve spent any time on Reddit, you know that the hot new trend sweeping teenage boys off their feet is racism. What better way to prove to the world that you’re a badass than to pretend to be, or actually be, racist. It’s like, society is so P.C. now, man. The ultimate act of rebellion is to repeat the half-century old racist joke you heard from your drunk, unemployed uncle.
Well all that racism has spilled over and is crapping all over playgrounds now. There are multiple cases of kids spray painting racist graffiti and even swastikas on playground equipment. Evidently, Hitler is hot with today’s youth. The most extreme example occurred in North Tonawanda, which is a place that exists I guess. A young hooligan, who is without a doubt the baddest-assest badass to ever ass, spray graffitied a playground with racial slurs, hate speech, and the words “drugs are good.” Once apprehended, this outlaw kid will undoubtedly rule the juvenile prison system.
9. A Dead Body
Tragedy is made all the more painful when it rears its ugly head in a place meant for escapism. Little children with rich, full lives ahead of them belong in playgrounds. Dead bodies belong in a cemetery.
When corpses show up in a playground it is eerie and unnerving. Although, I guess, corpses are eerie and unnerving wherever they show up anywhere, but they are especially eerie and unnerving in the playground setting. It seems to not be that rare of an occurrence either. There was a case where a 68-year old missing woman was discovered by several kids. Another instance had a man that had fled police after being pulled over, turn up dead next to a playground in Bountiful, Utah. And in an awful example, a woman who had been reported missing along with her 2-year-old daughter had her body discovered in a playground. Playground corpses are very depressing.
8. Disease And Bacteria
Look, we all know that children are basically disgusting, little, walking bags full of disease. Any place that children frequent is going to be gross. They bite stuff, they drool, they don’t cover their nose when they sneeze. And, oh my god, they just have so many boogers constantly falling out. But, even knowing all of that, playgrounds offer a special kind of nasty cesspool of bacterial fun.
Down under in Australia, where the childhood illness hand, foot, and mouth disease is much more prevalent, a playground sickness can be life altering. In Sydney, severe cases of the illness caused two children to die and one to be paralyzed in his leg.
In 2007, Good Morning America tested 12 playgrounds in 4 cities, Washington, D.C., and suburbs in Virginia and Maryland; two in New York City; and at three parks in Chicago. On the swabs they collected, they found traces of salmonella, shigella, hepatitis A, and a norovirus. Oh, and every single swap contained fecal matter. That’s a lot of poop.
7. Hand Grenades
If there is only one thing we can all agree on, it’s this: hand grenades belong in the battlefield or in Bugs Bunny cartoons, not on the playground. Why would there be a hand grenade on a playground in the first place? Was an army marching into battle, but saw the playground and decided to stop and swing first?
Scrolling through articles about hand grenades on playgrounds, most of them are found in the Middle East, because, as we all know, most of the Middle East has been at war with other parts of the Middle East since before the Middle East was the Middle East. But, there have been grenades popping up on playgrounds even in the good ol’ U.S. of A. An unexploded grenade was found in New Jersey. Who carries hand grenades in New Jersey? I also love how they are always described as an “unexploded hand grenade.” I imagine that once they explode, they are harder to find.
6. Child Predators
We all know those hilarious jokes and stereotypes that people keep using about, “Watch out for that white van at the playground!” or “Ooh, I’m not legally allowed to go close to playgrounds.” Well, it’s a lot less funny when you realize those jokey stereotypes come from real criminal cases. A lot of child abductions that take place on playgrounds are invariably perpetrated by local news crews that are doing a story on child abductions, but real ones have been known to happen as well.
It makes sense, in a perverse way. If you want to kidnap a kid, you go where the kids are. Just a head’s up to parents out there: if your neighborhood playground is frequented by middle-aged men with no children, maybe don’t let your kids play there alone. In one particular case, there was a dude hanging out by a fence offering high-fives to kids on the playground. When one child came over, the guy reached over the fence and tried to grab the kid. This is definitely one high-five that should have been left hanging.
5. Used Syringes
Are there a pair of more cringe-worthy words worse than “used syringes?” I mean, obviously the answer is yes, but it’s still pretty bad. How careless and thoughtless does a person have to be to stick a needle into their arm, pull it out covered in their own blood, and then just throw that needle on the ground?
There are cases of used syringes popping up on playgrounds from all over the world. This just goes to show that drug addicts and diabetics have no regard for the people in the world around them. I do realize that needles are tiny and it is hard to find them. But, it is not that hard to find a needle in a haystack if half the hay is needles. There is case after case after case around the US of kids pricking their finger on these hypodermic needles. It becomes painfully obvious that more cities need needle exchange programs, or just need to encourage junkies to reuse their needles.
4. A Naked Man
Do naked dudes show up on the playground? Of course naked dudes show up on the playground. If you’re a dude, sometimes you get out of your mind on booze and drugs, strip naked, run through the streets, find a playground, and play around until the cops show up and taze you into unconsciousness. It’s just what dudes do.
It’s one thing for a person to go out of their minds and go wreak havoc on the local playground, but why do they have to always be naked? I would think playing on a playground would be a much less pleasurable experience when naked. Going down the slide would suck, especially if it’s hot outside. For the swings, you’d really have to adjust yourself and arrange everything so you’re not flopping around on the swing set. The only thing better for a naked dude on a playground would probably be the monkey bars. If they swing back and forth, they could probably use their floppy weight back below to create that little extra momentum needed to make it to the next bar. Why are they always naked?
It was bound to happen. It has been inevitable since the innovation of both. Finally their time together has come. Playgrounds and graveyards, together at last! Now the combination graveyard and playground falls into two very distinct categories: Playgrounds intentionally built in and around graveyards, and playgrounds unintentionally built around graveyards.
As the movie Poltergeist suggests, things unintentionally built over graveyards will always be more interesting. Remember, the Earth is pretty old, and humans have been on it for a while. No matter where you’re standing, the odds are pretty decent that someone is buried there. Which is why it shouldn’t be that surprising that a 400 year old burial site was found under a Scottish school yard playground (and no, it’s not Sean Connery‘s family). As for the other example, some older cities like Berlin are just running out of places to build, especially parks and green space. Naturally, they just convert cemeteries to parks.
There are a disturbing number of playgrounds that just catch on fire. It’s almost as if children are insane and just want to destroy things. Whatever the case, fires and playgrounds go together like rama lama lama and ka dinga da dinga dong (thanks Grease!).
It seems that many of the playground fires are set by arsonists. After all, who could resist setting a swing set on fire? Every time you see a jungle gym, it is kind of hard not just going up and holding a lighter to it. But some of the fires are set by children just being straight up jerks. Like this example of two thirteen year-olds living in Alaska. They burned their local playground to the ground. It was built with “donations and more than 17,000 hours of volunteer labor.” There is absolutely no excuse for that. Even the fact that you have to grow up in Alaska can not excuse that kind of delinquent behavior.
The police in the United States of America have a very difficult time trying not to murder innocent African American people. Murdering innocent African American people has been a tradition in many police forces across American for decades. But with new advancements in policing, like body cameras, and actually trying to hold cops accountable for their actions, people outside of African American communities are finally noticing this problem. If a cop shows up on a playground in a white neighborhood, they are there because theres a crazy naked white guy threatening children. If a cop shows up in an African American neighborhood, it’s because some idiot feels threatened by an innocent black child. On November 22, 2014, someone reported a person, “probably a juvenile,” who was “pointing a pistol” at people at a park. They also said the pistol was “probably fake.” Officers arrived on scene and within two seconds of arriving 26-year-old officer Timothy Loehmann murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice. It seems that for certain groups, the most deadly thing found in playgrounds are police.