Childhood Risks: Perception vs. Reality
Great article on perceived vs actual risks to children:
The risk of abduction remains tiny. In Britain, there are now half as many children killed every year in road accidents as there were in 1922 -- despite a more than 25-fold increase in traffic.
Today the figure is under 9%. Escorting children is now the norm -- often in the back of a 4x4.
We are rearing our children in captivity -- their habitat shrinking almost daily.
In 1970 the average nine-year-old girl would have been free to wander 840 metres from her front door. By 1997 it was 280 metres.
Now the limit appears to have come down to the front doorstep.
The picket fence marks the limit of their play area. They wouldn't dare venture beyond it.
"You might get kidnapped or taken by a stranger," says Jojo.
"In the park you might get raped," agrees Holly.
Don't they yearn to go off to the woods, to climb trees and get muddy?
No, they tell me. The woods are scary. Climbing trees is dangerous. Muddy clothes get you in trouble.
One wonders what they think of Just William, Swallows And Amazons or The Famous Five -- fictional tales of strange children from another time, an age of adventures where parents apparently allowed their offspring to be out all day and didn't worry about a bit of mud.
There is increasing concern that today's "cotton-wool kids" are having their development hampered.
They are likely to be risk-averse, stifled by fears which are more phobic than real.
EDITED TO ADD (6/9): More commentary.
Posted on June 7, 2007 at 5:54 AM • 69 Comments