The Benefits of Risk
Wed, 2012-04-11 12:15
Risk, and our society's increasing aversion to it, is becoming a hotly debated topic these days. And rightly so: there is no doubt that knee-jerk reactions of statutory bodies in many countries to the perceived risks of disicplines like our own has contributed to an ever-expanding system of restrictions placed on the freedoms and, consequently, potential of individuals the world over. I highlight the word 'perceived' as there is often a yawning gap between the things we perceive as high-risk in our lives and the things that actually are high-risk. Almost always this is due to misinformation of one sort or another.
It's quite clear to any free-thinking adult that the presence of risk, and therefore the need for children to develop the skills to manage risk, in a young person's upbringing is crucial to his/her healthy development both mentally and physically. Dealing with risk, even in small ways but regularly, sharpens the attributes that enable every individual to excel.
This isn't going to be a discourse on risk, however. Not this time, anyway. I'm using this to draw your attention to an excellent report by the National Trust on a serious problem that has been entitled 'Nature Deficit Disorder' - effectively the fact that a generation of young people have been setadily losing touch with the natural world and are losing/have lost their ability, desire and access to play freely outdoors. The report identifies a need to reintroduce managed risk to the upbringing of young people so that they might enjoy the benefits of learning to deal with it.
To quote the report; "the concept of Risk/Benefit Assessments, whereby both risks AND benefits are assessed and decisions made as a result of weighing up both factors, is a ground-breaking approach, and one completely consistent with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice. Efforts like these need a greater profile in our society – they strike at the core of finding a solution to the issue of Nature Deficit Disorder"
Obviously parkour is a prime example of a discipline that can strike that Risk/Benefit balance to perfection, and is one of the reasons we are so in demand right now with the sports education bodies in the UK. And it is refreshing to see a report such as this coming out, and that these concepts are now being backed, little by little, by the law-makers and statutory bodies. It's well worth a read.
I'll sign off with a quote from Dan Gardner's fantastic book entitled 'Risk'. I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.
“In playgrounds, climbing equipment is removed and unsupervised games of tag are forbidden lest someone sprain an ankle or bloody a nose. At home, children are forbidden from playing alone outdoors, as all generations did before, because their parents are convinced every bush hides a pervert – and no mere statistics will convince them otherwise. Childhood is starting to resemble a prison sentence, with children spending almost every moment behind locked doors and alarms, their every movement scheduled, supervised, and controlled. Are they at least safer as a result? Probably not. Obesity, diabetes, and the other health problems caused in part by too much time sitting inside are a lot more dangerous than the spectres haunting parental imaginations.”