Risk in Growing Up

There is no question that attitudes to risk for children have changed enormously in my lifetime. A recent survey suggested that British parents were amongst the most cautious and conservative when it came to what they permitted their children to do and what risks were perceived to be acceptable.

This story, understandably, has recently captured a lot of attention:

CS Monitor – Ban on Tag

We have to wonder – if educators are going to decide it’s unacceptably dangerous for children to play tag, then what other games from my childhood would be considered well beyond acceptable. Not only did we have many variations on tag (including kiss chase!), but we also had games like British Bulldog. I’ve seen one website that described that game as ‘brutal’ whilst many call for it to be banned. However, we loved that game. Whatever happened to sliding down steep slopes on tea trays or fixing ropes on tree branches over a river to swing on?

Did some of us get hurt? Of course we did. Scabby knees was almost a permanent state for me growing up. However, i believe that the benefits far outweighed any downside risks. We learned resilience, team skills and communication skills. We learned to handle defeat and victory with humility and good humour. That didn’t mean we cared any less about winning.

Are we in danger of eliminating so much that carries risk from our children’s lives that we turn childhood in to a sterile wait for adulthood, devoid of joy, energy and life?

I’d love to hear others’ views.

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