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Health And Safety Training For The Next Generation

Jun 27, 2008
Have we really come to the point where health and safety training is needed before our children can enjoy a day at the park? It would seem the days of boys being boys and girls being tomboys are over. Those were the days, when I was younger, that we would go climb trees for fun, sometimes hang about in the play park swinging upside down from anything that looked suitably dangerous and generally push our physical boundaries, keeping ourselves fit and rarely, if ever, acquiring more than a bruise or a scratch.

Unfortunately today, children are being restricted to doing anything much other than sitting in front of a computer game where they get fatter and unhealthier but at least the most harm they are likely to come to is getting repetitive strain injury from all that gaming. Until, that is, they become adults and out of boredom or frustration, begin acting out all those vicious computer games that have been their sole source of entertainment for so long.

But what is influencing this trend for children to prefer the indoors sedentary life instead of the action that we preferred years ago? And, indeed, do they prefer it? Is it what they really want?

The problem stems from the health and safety experts who are restricting everybody's movements for fear that something untoward will happen, such as a genuine accident, and someone will be held accountable for vast amounts of money. To this end, they have removed a ten foot children's slide from a play park amid concerns that it could cause serious injury. What? Like too much fun? Laughing too hard causing a hernia?

If the parents, or the children of course, were to undergo health and safety training then maybe that would be acceptable. Officials do plan to put another slide in its place, with higher sides. Maybe they would like to enclose it all in bubble wrap and cover the ground in cotton wool just in case?

Opposition complaints suggest that children will never learn how to judge risks, or have fun, if they are never challenged.

Of course, no one wants to see an injured child but surely if playground equipment is judged too dangerous to use without health and safety training, then surely we should have high sided pavements to stop a child wandering into the road, or should they just be taught road safety?

And what about bunk beds? They may well have sides on them to stop the child from falling but children climb down from these ladders everyday without assistance. These steps are very often the height of a playground slide but who is going to take responsibility if there is a mis-hap? Maybe we will find children claiming compensation from their parents all over the place if they should fall from a bunk bed, or off a chair, or trip on a stray rug or slip on a wet kitchen floor.

Do we really want to teach our children that they do not have to take responsibility for their own actions? That accidents can and do happen? Do we want to be reduced to regular health and safety training sessions for our children before we can let them loose in their own home? The compensations culture of this country has certainly gone too far - maybe it's time we put a stop to it.
About the Author
Safety expert Catherine Harvey looks at the way our children may need health and safety training before they can go to the park.
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