Azara Blog: Children are allegedly being over-protected

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Date published: 2007/10/28

The BBC says:

Youngsters are missing out on their childhood because we over-protect them, a child play expert claims.

A reluctance to let children take risks could stop them developing vital skills needed to protect themselves, he adds.

Tim Gill's new book says that instead of creating a "nanny state" we should build a society where communities look out for each other and youngsters.

The book explores several key areas, including children's play, anti-social behaviour and fear of strangers.

In No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society, Mr Gill argues that childhood is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion and its intrusion into every aspect of children's lives.

Activities that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought - like walking to school on their own - have been re-labelled as troubling or dangerous and the adults who permit them branded as irresponsible, he argues.

It's easy to write books like this, because it's easy to cherry-pick examples. And of course many people believe the underlying thesis of the book is true, which helps. And it might well be true, since the health and safety nutters have inflicted this kind of risk averse attitude on all of society. But the main fault must lie with the media, which continually plays up dangers in an attempt to sell copy (there's nothing like a good piece of sensationalism) and/or to have a go at the government that "something must be done", with the attendant farcical belief that all danger could be removed from the world if only the government legislated it away and threw enough money at the problem (and the government knows it will be crucified if anything goes wrong, whether it is their fault or not). The media never worries about any cost benefit analysis (about anything, for that matter), hence providing cover for the health and safety nutters to impose additional cost on society with no analysis of whether the benefit justifies the cost.

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