Harry Potter et al v. The Ministry of Magic a.k.a. Why Are There No Safety Regulations In The Harry Potter Universe?

Has anyone other than me noticed the stunning lack of safety regulations present in the Harry Potter universe? I'm a big fan of the films (to my wife's never-ending chagrin, I refuse to read the books for the sole reason that they are not movies), but ever since law school, I have not been able to get over the fact that Potter lives in a world where children are placed in a constant stream of danger. Thanks to the fine programmers at ABC Family, I've had a chance to revisit each Harry Potter film in greater detail and here are just a few samples of the myriad dangers to befall the students at Hogwarts:

  1. A system of staircases that move suddenly and without warning (how many students have fallen to their peril because of bad timing?);
  2. A giant three-headed dog kept in the castle behind a flimsy wooden door;
  3. A competitive game (Quidditch) where children ride on brooms hundreds of feet in the air chasing after balls powerful enough to behead a person;
  4. A nearby forest full of beasts such as murderous centaurs, murderous giants, and murderous GIGANTIC SPIDERS;
  5. A contest (The Tri-Wizard Tournament) where teenagers are chased by fire-breathing dragons and attacked by violent mer-people in order to win the ugliest trophy I've ever seen;
  6. A hateful witch (literally) who comes to school and tortures students by carving words into their skin;

Hell, in Chamber of Secrets, students are actually encouraged to square off against one another in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Now you can argue that the professor, Gilderoy Lockehart, was something of a doofus and quite possibly didn't realize that having children try to kill each other with wands wasn't a good idea, but remember that Severus Snape was also present and by his failure to object, ratified Lockehart's idiocy.

Also, at some point, the school hired a f**king werewolf as a teacher. And this kind of recklessness doesn't stop at Hogwarts... it's all over the magic world. Take the unfortunate case of Seamus Finnigan. He's a peer of Harry who's wand kept malfunctioning and blowing sh*t up in his face. Now maybe we can chalk this up to Seamus' incompetence as a wizard, but I think the blame more appropriately rests at the foot of Garrick Olivander, the man who sells each 1st year his or her wand. As an aged wizard, he should know better, yet he sold a clearly defective wand to this student. Had there been some safety regulations (perhaps a policy about practice wands for students not yet learned in magic), then Seamus might have avoided years of charred skin. If I were a wizard lawyer, I would take Finnigan's case and sue Olivander into an early grave. His actions are at best negligent and at worst criminally reckless.

When you think about it, this seeming lack of regulation really makes no sense. After all, the movies take great pains to show that the magical world has a government with a functioning court/ tribunal system. And throughout the films, characters pay lip service to wizarding law (such as the "no magic under 17" rule for which Harry was unreasonably prosecuted in Order of the Phoenix). So why does there appear to be no measurable safety regulation for children?

So let's do something here. Let's come up with some sample legislation. I'll get the ball rolling:

  1. Minors under the age of 13 may only purchase wands with limited magical capabilities.
  2. Minors under the age of 17 may not work with dangerous creatures without a consenting adult present.
  3. Minors under the age of 15 may not ride a broom.

I'm open to your suggestions to make the Harry Potter universe a safe place for students to learn magic without fearing for their own death.

Greg Kanaan

The [Legal] Artist, Boston, MA, USA