We all know Hogwarts as that magical place of learning that we wish we’d been accepted into (I’m still waiting for my letter). The grand castle is a big step up from most muggle secondary schools, full of secret passageways, moving paintings and strange lessons (the nearest our school got to herbology was when someone started growing weed on the roof.)
Still, right from the get go, Hogwarts hardly seems like the kind of place you want to go if your looking for a comfortable education, free from danger and the constant threat of death. Here are 22 of the school’s most glaring health and safety problems:
21) The Black Lake – The large body of water surrounding Hogwarts is full of strange creatures. Most common though are the grindylows (evil water-demons) and the crazy merpeople. Not to mention the giant squid (though some say he’s a cool dude). This colourful array of dangerous pondlife makes late night skinny-dipping a no-go.
Also worth mentioning is the high chance of drowning, due to the fact that first-years are forced to arrive via rowing boat. Of course, this being the wizarding world there’s no such thing as life-jackets, so you better hope the giant squid is feeling generous (he saved a student after he fell in).
20) Student Arsonists – I’m looking mainly at Seamus Finnigan here. From the first time he managed to set his feather on fire in charms class, Seamus’s knack for turning things into ash has become a running joke in the series.
It’s saying a lot when you’re the go-to guy to blow up a strategic bridge (come to think of it, that bridge looked rickety as fuck, and deserves its own place on this list).
This highlights one of the more overlooked points of the logistics of tutoring young wizards. Magic is fucking dangerous. The students of Hogwarts are given far too much responsibility, given that any slight mistakes can have huge destructive consequences.
19) Peeves – Not featuring in the films, Peeves the Poltergeist is not only a constant annoyance to all who meet him (and anyone who has played any of the video games), but is also a huge health and safety hazard.
Peeves has been know to throw walking sticks at students and pull the rugs from under their feet. Though he hasn’t been known to kill anyone, I’m sure he’s been responsible for his fair share of broken bones and twisted ankles over the years.
18) Dangerous Textbooks – The Monster Book of Monsters is renowned for being dangerous to the reader. The large fur-bound book attacks any who open it without first stroking its spine, making it incredibly dangerous and presumably expensive (a mass-produced paperback would be much cheaper).
Of course, an important academic institution such as Hogwarts could have threatened the sadistic publishers with dropping the book from its curriculum, forcing them to produce a less aggressive edition. But no, having your students eaten by books doesn’t concern them in the slightest.
Additionally, some of the books in the restricted section of the library also seem to be pretty nasty (not to mention impractical). Having said that, many muggle textbooks carry the risk of boring you to death.
17) Abusive Teachers – I know the magic world is a bit behind-the-times in terms of appearance (they all still wear robes), but even still, corporal punishment is not cool.
Snape was a dick, we all know that (even is he was on the “good side” all along), so it’s no surprise he was a tad physical with his students. But Umbridge took it a step too far. I think you know you’ve got a problem when your teachers knowingly draw student blood for their own sick amusement.
16) Care of Magical (and Really Fucking Dangerous) Creatures – As part of their studies, Hogwarts students are taught how to look after “magical” creatures (why animals are included in the muggle/wizard segregation thing I’ll never know). Of course, most of these creatures are terrifying beasts that prove a huge danger to inexperienced wizards.
Case in point, Buckbeak the Hippogriff. This half-horse, half-eagle attacked Draco Malfoy after he taunted the animal, injuring him. Of course, Dumbledore saw the resultant execution of Buckbeak as unjust, and had Harry and Hermione go back in time to save the beast.
But honestly, who’s really in the wrong? The school bully who name-called a large bird? Or the headmaster who thinks it’s appropriate to mix children with huge razor-clawed predators.
15) Moving Staircases – The moving staircases were a fun little oddity that added charm to the earlier films (although once shit got real they realised they were just being a pain).
But imaging you’re at the top of the stairs, just about to step onto the landing, when the staircase shifts suddenly. At best you’ll have a broken ankle. At worst, you’ll be tumbling down seven stories worth of castle.
14) Flying Lessons – When it comes to ensuring the safety of your students, anything that involves a fifty-foot drop should be seen as a no-go. But of course, Hogwarts doesn’t think in terms of safety.
Neville Longbottom was lucky to have come away with just a broken wrist, when he fell of his broomstick from a massive height, after losing control of his broomstick during his first flying lesson.
It’s interesting to point out that Madame Hooch makes no attempt to stop his fall (unlike when Dumbledore saves Harry when he falls of his broom during a quidditch match). Maybe next time cover the grounds with a giant trampoline.
13) Glaring Holes in Security – Hogwarts is a school famed for being a sanctuary for all students eager to learn, and as such one would expect a rigorous security system to be in effect.
How then, does one manage to sneak a mountain troll into the castle. I know one of the teachers was responsible, but is there no troll-detecting charm that could have alerted the staff sooner to the massive threat to student safety? Apparently not.
12) Dementors On-Campus – I know the Ministry of Magic was eager to catch Sirius Black, but why does that have to entail positioning an army of wannabe Ringwraiths that are willing to suck the face off students just outside the school grounds.
Also, we muggles have our fair share of police brutality. But what exactly did Harry do to provoke an attack when he was flying high above the quidditch field? Clearly the wizarding world is fine with being the subject of unprovoked killings by the police.
11) Irresponsible Headmaster – Okay, if I was at school and the head found out I’d just stopped a serial killer, they’d probably offer me some amount of praise, before warning me never to engage in vigilanteism again.
What does Dumbledore do? Encourage Harry to risk his life some more. Yes, Dumbledore has that typical wise-old-man way of looking past the fact that children shouldn’t be attempting to defeat dark lords (Gandalf does the same with hobbits). He simply gives him a pat on the back, not even making sure to add the words, “Hey, before you try killing Voldemort again, please come and get me first”.
Not only that, but later it turns out that Harry is part of Dumbledore’s master plan for defeating Voldemort for good, as he takes Harry on a dangerous mission to destroy one of the dark lord’s horcruxes. He even reveals to Snape that he knows full well that Harry must die in order for Voldemort to be killed.
To be fair, at this point his lack of concern for Harry goes a bit beyond normal student-teacher relations, so maybe his inclusion on this list is undeserved. Still, what a deceptive wanker.
10) The Whomping Willow – Alright. Having a few animals that could be aggressive when improperly treated is one thing. But a fucking great big tree that likes to murder people. That’s child manslaughter.
Why the teachers thought it remotely sensible to keep such a threatening thing in the vicinity of small children (who regularly lose their way around the castle) is anyone’s guess. Of course, given the countless other things that pose a deadly threat to students it’s hardly worth removing it.
9) Malfoy’s Murder Plot – So we now know Dumbledore knew all along that Draco had been chosen to kill him, and that’s why he arranged for Snape to kill him instead. His death was inevitable because of the weird ugly hand thing so it didn’t really matter who cast the killing spell.
But then, having a murderer walking about the school is hardly safe. Did Dumbledore not think it would be better for Malfoy to be expelled, given the fact that he was working for Voldemort?
Obviously not, as after Ron had been poisoned and Katie Bell had been possessed by an evil amulet, he still decides to do fuck all. As per usual.
8) Forbidden Forest – What does it say about your schools safety when large chunks of it have to be described as “forbidden”? Yes, the large forest on the edge of the school harbors giants, werewolves, giant fucking spiders, etc.
Now here’s a thought, what if one day all that lot decided to come out and storm Hogwarts castle? The school would be overrun in minutes, and students would be eaten by the hundreds.
7) No Background Checks on Teachers – The position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is famous for having shit teachers, none of whom have lasted more than a year.
First was Professor Quirrell, who turned out to be hiding Lord Voldemort on the back of his head. Back to my point about flaws in security, how is it that the dark lord managed to infiltrate “the safest place in the world”, and remain undetected by the most powerful wizard on Earth? Does Dumbledore not have spidey-senses about that kind of thing?
Next was Gilderoy Lockhart, who was famed for his battles against various dangerous beasts. Of course, he was a complete fraud, but one would think that Dumbledore would have picked that up during his job interview.
Then came Remus Lupin. At this point I think Dumbledore said fuck it, and started actively trying to kill his pupils. Seriously. A teacher who’s also a fucking werewolf?
After him was “Madeye” Moody. But of course, this is Hogwarts, so to make things interesting he’s not actually Moody. Instead he’s a murderous psychopath, who kidnapped Moody and put him in a suitcase, impersonating him for the entirety of the term.
Then came Umbridge, who besides from being a total bitch was also a child abuser. I know she was installed by the Ministry of Magic, but does that really mean she can do whatever the fuck she likes? For God’s sake, someone send the Minister an owl and get that woman arrested.
Finally, we have Snape. It’s really saying something about the safety of students when three of the six D.A.D.A. teachers turn out to be Death Eaters. I know Snape was a on the “good side” after the end of the last war, but is there any way Dumbledore could have known this for sure?
Overall, Dumbledore has proven to be a terrible judge of character and clearly does not have his staff under control. I don’t know why Voldemort didn’t just apply for a job at Hogwarts. He’d be hired in a heartbeat.
6) Batshit Crazy Punishments – So we’ve already touched on how Professor Umbridge liked to punish her students by carving words into their flesh. But that doesn’t even touch on what was happening before she got there.
When Harry, Ron and Hermione (and Malfoy) are given detentions by Professor McGonagall, they are made to serve them assisting Hagrid, as he looks for a wounded unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. That’s right. The punishment for being out of bed at night is a stroll through a deadly forest (see point 8).
Better yet is Filch’s remark about how students used to be punished by being strung up in the dungeon. Apparently the wizarding world has a lax view on child torture.
5) Using the School as a High-Security Vault – When Professor Dumbledore wanted to protect the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) (also, stop being so stupid, Americans) Stone, he hid it in the most appropriate place he could think. A school with hundreds of children in it.
So naturally, if any dark witch or wizard did feel like stealing it, they would be forced to infiltrate the castle. I think we know by now how happy Dumbledore is for evil people to casually walk the corridors of his school, but did he have to then fill the castle with a three-headed dog, and a plant that likes to kill people?
Doesn’t the magic world have some sort of locking spell that only responds to the one who casts it, kinda like a retinal scan or something? Obviously not, or perhaps Dumbledore just wan’t to make life at Hogwarts more exciting by adding the potential for a large beast to come crashing through the wall.
Also, you know what happens when you tell students not to do something? Yes, like pot and unprotected sex, having children trying to break into an area that you make it a point to ban them from is simply inevitable.
4) The Triwizard Tournament – First off, I should point out that the only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because the participants elect themselves to take part in this deadly competition.
The contestants in the Triwizard Tournament (or Quadwizard tournament) are made to face fire-breathing dragons, potential drowning, crazy mermaids, and a murderous hedge-maze. Not to mention Lord Voldemort, who was added as surprise bonus round.
But the one thing that was really hilariously stupid, was the rule that forced Harry to compete, despite being underage and not having put his name forward in the first place. I’m all for tradition, but is adhering to the randomly-selected roster really more important than stopping children from dying?
Also, did Ron and Hermione agree to being knocked unconscious and kept underwater just so the contestants to rescue them? Surely if this task is dangerous (as befits a test in these fucked-up games) they’re at just as much risk as the contestants themselves.
3) Quidditch – I’ve already mentioned how dangerous flying can be, given that they’re speeding around on a thin bit of wood without any harness whatsoever.
However, the wizard sport of choice takes things up a notch. Not only do students undergo the same dangers of regular flying, but they’re also allowed to be incredibly rough towards the other players.
But what really makes it a stupidly dangerous endeavour is the role that the “bludgers” have. These are essentially cannonballs that speed around trying to hit the players, causing severe injuries. To add further violence, the team’s “beaters” are allowed to whack the bludgers towards opposing players.
Due to the silly amount of harm caused by the game, few games are played that don’t involve several players being subsequently admitted to the school’s (frankly overworked) hospital wing.
The equipment used also appears to be ridiculously easy to bewitch. Harry himself was target to a curse on his broom, which nearly caused him to fall from it, only to be attacked by a bludger under Dobby’s control (why exactly was it so sad that he died?).
2) The Chamber of Secrets – The secret chamber built by Salazaar Slytherin as a big fuck-you to muggle-borns was hardly a danger by itself. What was dangerous, however, was the big-ass snake that lived inside.
The Basilisk was capable of killing students just by medusa-ing the shit out of them (looking at them, for those not versed in Greek mythology). Not that it needed too. It could probably have swallowed students whole, or bitten them with their deadly venom.
By some improbable miracle (because before book four it was still a kid’s book), no-one was killed by the creature after it was let loose by Ron’s sister (and somehow no-one saw it either). The time before that, of course, a girl was killed, leaving her to be an annoying (albeit essential to the plot) brat ghost for the rest of the series.
It was only when Harry had had enough of these motherfucking snakes in this motherfucking castle that he popped down to stick a sword in that S.O.B. (my knowledge of basilisk-breeding is limited).
1) The Siege of Hogwarts – You know, if I worked in a school that had been taken over by Lord Voldemort and his followers were installed to teach kids to kill people, I probably would have attempted to stage a takeover (were there really only three bad guys?), or failing that, attempt to evacuate students away from the castle (or tell them not to come back in the first place).
In fact, this seems utterly bizarre. Why on Earth would you send your children back to a school that you know full well has been taken over by the most evil wizard in history? The parents in this case are just as bad as the teachers.
But that aside, once you had restored good-guy control over the school, would you not take the opportunity to stage a full-scale evacuation, given the fact that you knew Voldemort was planning to attack the castle soon. Well, we know how Hogwarts feels about putting their students in mortal danger (they probably invited the Death Eaters just for a laugh).
If anything, the whole Battle of Hogwarts shows a complete lack of military competence on the part of the defenders. If I was fighting the last battle of good and evil, my first step would be to assemble an army comprised of adults and not half-educated children.
I know the Order of the Phoenix was a top-secret, tight-knit organisation, but why couldn’t they have begun building outside supporters in anticipation of the upcoming war? The bad guys opened their recruiting offices years ago. How are you supposed to defend a castle when all you’ve got is Ron’s mum and that cool black dude?
I know at Hogwarts kids are faced with danger wherever they look, but getting children to fight an army of murderers is a going way too far. Sending Slytherin to the dungeons was the most sensible thing anyone did in the entire movie. I’d send the whole school.
Ultimately the staff of Hogwarts has some serious thinking to do. Perhaps they need a course in basic health and safety (but first their ability to teach should be revoked). They must have fountains of kiddie blood on their hands.
Honourable Mention) Insufficient Handrail, Astronomy Tower – Everyone knows that a decent handrail should be high enough so that it comes above a grown man’s waist. This makes tumbling out of a high tower near impossible, even with the large knock from a killing curse.