Nothing Ventured .... Balancing the risks and benefits in the Outdoors - 2010
Children and young people have a thirst for adventure and challenge. This is evident from their earliest efforts to crawl and walk, and can be seen throughout childhood. What is more, the majority of children grow up to be competent, confident people who lead healthy, fulfilled lives.
Despite this, children and young people face growing adult anxiety over their safety, across many aspects of their everyday lives. While we do not want children to come to harm, our fears can lead us to underestimate their own abilities and to overreact to extremely rare tragedies.
A mindset that is solely focused on safety does children and young people no favours. Far from keeping them safe from harm, it can deny them the very experiences that help them to learn how to handle the challenges that life may throw at them. There is an emerging consensus that our society has become too focused on reducing or eliminating risk in childhood. And research suggests that overprotecting children can lead to longer-term problems with mental health and well-being.
Education in its broadest sense is not just about delivering a curriculum. It is about giving children the chance to extend their life skills. It is about developing their confidence. It is about fostering their resilience and sense of responsibility. And – let us not forget – it is about the enjoyment, engagement and excitement of venturing out into the real world, with all its capacity for uncertainty, surprise, stimulation and delight.