The Janesville Police Department believe at least one recent traffic crash occurred in part because local high school students were taking part in Nerf Wars.

In an email to parents, Janesville School District Superintendent Steve Pophal and Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore advised parents that while the activity might seem like harmless fun, portions of it “have the potential to be inappropriate, dangerous and illegal.”

Nerf Wars, sometimes called “Senior Shootout,” involves teams attempting to eliminate members of other teams by shooting them with Nerf guns. The rules vary from game to game, but can include:

  • Players removing all their clothing to avoid being shot.
  • Trespassing on private property.
  • Restricting the type of Nerf weapon that can be used.
  • Wrestling away another person’s weapon.

Authorities learned the game was being played in Janesville because of posts on social media.

The game has become so common that police departments across the country issue news releases asking students to keep the more dangerous elements of the game in check.

Late last week, police in two suburban communities north of Cincinnati asked students not carry all-black Nerf guns so they couldn’t be misidentified as real weapons and not to surround homes while wearing dark clothing and carrying dark guns because that would “certainly generate a rapid police response.”

Many of the news stories related to Nerf Wars have to do with trespassing and traffic violations, including speeding and reckless driving.

In their letter, Pophal and Moore encouraged parents not to dismiss the game as “youth engaging in what appears to be harmless fun.”

“In 2015, in the community of Lakeville, Minnesota, two students were killed and two were seriously injured in a roll-over accident as they attempted to avoid elimination from the game by speeding away in a vehicle,” the letter stated.

Pophal and Moore also wanted to make sure the community knew the game “is not endorsed by, or in any way associated with the School District of Janesville, Craig High School, Parker High School or any school in the community.

Pophal and Moore hoped the letter would “Serve as a starting point for dialogue with your child.” They added “there is no game worth taking dangerous risks that could result in serious injury, disability, or the loss of life.”

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