Children Can Manage Risk on Their Own, Study Shows; EDUCATION MATTERS

The Birmingham Post (England), January 7, 2008 | Go to article overview

Children Can Manage Risk on Their Own, Study Shows; EDUCATION MATTERS


Byline: By Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent

Children are better at managing risk than their parents give them credit for, according to a study of pupils carried out by a Midland academic.

Contrary to popular belief among many adults, they do not blindly throw themselves into risk-taking behaviour and are much better at assessing danger than we think.

Experts from the University of Warwick and the Research Unit for General Practice in Copenhagen observed children aged 10 to 12 in a Copenhagen suburb over an eight-month period.

They were studied for how they engaged with risk away from their parents in their everyday life at school and during after-school care.

The researchers found children indulge in a great deal of thoughtful and considered risk-taking that is invisible to adults.

They actively decided how much risk to expose themselves to, avoided harmful actions, made assessments of their own bodily capacity and even successfully negotiated levels of risks with other children by setting rules and limits to their games.

Professor Pia Christensen, of Warwick University's Institute of Education, said: "The researchers found many examples of how children actively engage with risk and daily manage situations that involve chance and risk.

"They actively decided how much risk to expose themselves to, avoided harmful actions, made assessments of their own bodily capacity and gauged risk in accordance with it and even successfully negotiated levels of risks with other children by setting and amending the rules and physical limits to their games and activities."

Prof Christensen said parents who wrapped their children in cotton wool and prevented them from taking risks were damaging their development.

"We are much more disabling our children if we keep them indoors or secure them too much because it is difficult for them then to cope in new environments or when they get into a social environment they don't know how to go about things. …

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