Security does not exist in nature

Posted by Samantha on July 4, 2011 in Safety |

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

Helen Keller, US blind & deaf educator (1880 – 1968)

Release the feet!

Last week I went against a school “policy” and sent my daughter to school in sandals.  I simply don’t believe that sandals are dangerous.  Nia overheats in shoes and socks at this time of year.  Over-heating is strongly linked with bad behaviour: road-rage and other crime sky-rockets during the hot summer days.

As the experts are fond of saying, I’m the expert on my child and I know she’s better off in sandals.  She won’t learn anything in school while she’s cranky from having melting hot feet.

Today I refused to chastise my son for crossing a private road without me.  I was 50 metres away with my daughter.  A driver got out of her car, found me and criticised me and my son for that behaviour.

I understand her point of view.  She must have got a fright when he ran across the road in front of her car.  I’m sure she’s not used to seeing seven-year-olds crossing roads on their own.  But she stopped easily – the speed limit was 10mph because it’s on school grounds.  I didn’t believe her when she said she nearly knocked him down.

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a few years now about the health and safety thing.  And I’ve decided it’s time to start resisting instead of just complaining.

We’re trying to eliminate all physical risk from our children’s lives.  Apart from the fact that this is an impossible goal – “security does not exist in nature” – there’s also the fact that it’s a dangerous goal.

Already our children’s psychological health is being compromised by our obsession with their physical safety.  In some parts of the UK we’re seeing the first generation of battery-reared children grow up.  Rarely let out – or out of sight – until too late, they are physically inept, psychologically vulnerable and chronically over-weight.

I feel really upset when I watch parents threaten their children over some sort of spurious physical danger – climbing trees, walking bare-foot, not having helmets on while cycling on village greens.

It’s such a difficult issue to address because, on the face of it, each measure we take appears to be safer than not taking it: yes, my daughter’s toes will be better protected in shoes than sandals should there be some sort of mishap in the playground.

Frankly, that’s a risk I’m prepared to take.

I reject the idea that I am negligent if I let my daughter wear sandals to school or my son to cycle without a helmet on.  I prefer to send my children the message that the world they live in is basically safe.  I refuse to fill them with fear that they will come to harm if they’re out of my sight.

I realise I’m in the minority on this one but I know I’m not alone and I write this today to offer encouragement to other parents out there, who like me, are beginning to think that this health and safety thing has gone WAY too far.



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