Letter to the Editor

Beware of 4-H release forms

Friday, March 19, 2010

To the Editor:

Beware 4-H parents!

In all 92 Indiana counties, a "4-H Youth Development Projects, Events, & Activities Release Form" is required for participation in 4-H.

It reads like this ... "I understand that participating in 4-H activities can involve certain risks to my child. On behalf of my child I accept those risks. I hereby release and discharge Purdue University, The Trustees of Purdue University, the Franklin County Commissioners, the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Service, and each of their trustees, officers, appointees, agents, employees, and volunteers ("Released Parties") from all claims which my child or myself might have for any injury or harm to my child, including death, arising out of my child's participation in any activity relating to the 4-H your development program, EVEN IF SUCH INJURY OR HARM IS CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OR FAULT OF ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES. (The emphasis is mine.)

Even if such injury or harm is caused by the Released Parties? Since when are we not responsible for any harm we cause through our own negligence or fault? Is injury or harm caused by the negligence or fault of the Released Parties now considered a risk to participating in 4-H?

4-H is asking us to sign a release form stating that if our children are injured or harmed through negligence or fault that we consider this an ACCEPTABLE risk.

How does this protect our children?

I understand accidents and I understand the need for 4-H to protect itself especially against frivolous lawsuits. What I do not understand is the last phrase of the form relieving individuals of responsibility for their own actions and not being held accountable for them. I would sign the form with the last phrase deleted.

4-H parents, former 4-H members, 4-H supporters, Purdue alumni, anyone uncomfortable with this strong language, I ask you to come together to petition for this phrase to be eliminated by visiting our website, www.indianafourhreleaseformopposition.org. and/or contacting www.four-h.purdue.edu/contactus.cfm to express your concern. Get the word out! Contact your state representative and state senator. We can create change if we stand together.

Most Sincerely,

Resa M. Sucietto