Accidents body urges more risk-taking

By Cathy Wallace

| 06 November 2007

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has championed the merits of children experiencing risk, including grazes, bruises and even broken bones.

Its intervention comes just one week after a controversial report by the former head of the Children's Play Council Tim Gill accused the Every Child Matters agenda of overprotecting children (CYP Now, 31 October-6 November).

A spokesman for RoSPA said: "In terms of risk, the occasional broken leg is better than sitting in front of the computer all day. If children don't get bumps and grazes they are never going to learn about risk."

Errol Taylor, deputy chief executive of RoSPA, said there needed to be a massive expansion in initiatives that allow children to experience risk such as Learning About Safety by Exploring Risk (Laser) schemes, which the society accredits. Around six per cent of primary school children currently visit these safety schemes.

Taylor said: "This is far too low. It means thousands of children miss the opportunity to learn how to face various challenges successfully."

The schemes use settings such as roads, gardens and railway lines to stress the importance to children of taking responsibility for their own safety.

There are about 200 schemes across the UK that fall under the Laser banner and Taylor said that this number needs to increase.

"Currently, the majority of primary school children do not have the chance to experience this way of learning through calculated risk-taking," she says.

Meanwhile, in its response to the government's Staying Safe consultation, the Association of Directors of Children's Services has said public debate on children's safety swings between extremes.

The association believes there could be a far better way to engage children and young people in a debate about risk than there is currently.

"Children and young people need opportunities to learn to manage risks themselves," the response said.

The association has said that it does not think more legislation is the answer, adding current legislation is already very complex.

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