Safety group backs risk

Let children learn by taking a few risks, advocates Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accdents. The Telegraph reports:

Britain’s safety charity suggested yesterday it would be better for the occasional child to fall out of a tree and break their wrist than develop repetitive strain injury from playing computer games.

Peter Cornall, the head of leisure safety at the society, said children would learn “valuable life-long lessons” by scraping knees, grazing elbows and bumping heads — not least how they would avoid hurting themselves in future – whereas they would learn little from getting RSI from playing games day in, day out on a PC.

When the safety people say too few kids are falling out of trees, you know caution has gone too far.

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  1. wahoofive says:

    When my daughter was a preschooler, the doctor would inspect her legs for bruises whenever we were in for a checkup. I at first assumed this was looking for evidence of abuse, but she (the doctor) said it was the opposite: “if there aren’t a bunch of bruises, the kid’s watching too much TV”.

  2. So true, wahoofive. When my daughter turned one and started walking, the pediatrician told me that we’d start seeing the bumps and bruises on her head, which she got from all the falls while learning to stand and walk, migrate to her shins. And we did.

  3. I heard an account about twenty years ago on the difference between how the English and Americans dealt with risk. I have just done a Google search and couldn’t find it, so I may have some of the details wrong.

    Both the British and Americans have bases down in the Antarctica. The Americans never allowed their scientists to go out exploring.

    The British took a different approach. If a scientist wanted to go out he had to take a short class which explained the risks. And there always had to be at least two scientists. These were the only restriction.

    The Americans treated their scientists like children. The British treated their scientists like adults.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    British courts don’t give billion dollar damages when someone does something stupid.
    Besides, scientists often are children, unlike engineers.

  5. Tom West says:

    It’s all very well to criticize parents who don’t expose their children to enough risk, but one should understand that there are tremendous pressures to protect our children.

    There is no greater failure than to allow your child to die when your actions could have prevented it. Many a person thinks long and hard before they put their child at risk, no matter that such risk is necessary in a more subtle fashion.

    More fundamentally, those who have had the means to protect their children have almost always done so. However, we are the first generation where almost everyone can actually practically and effectively protect our children from harm. It’s a gift that our unparalleled wealth brings us.

    Unfortunately, our evolutionary drive to protect our young never anticipated the possibility that we might actually *achieve* that protection, something that was unthinkable only a generation ago.

    So as a result, we protect our children against physical harm, and against responsibility whose consequence could prove fatal or even incur long-term harm. It has undeniable cost to the child, but who are we to criticize those who give in the most basic of human drives: to protect our children.