Risky Behaviors

Safe or Not?

One thing strikes me odd about Generation Z and its parents. According to the Barna people, Gen-Z parents are double minded about safety. They insist on walking their children to school but don’t bother monitoring their use of the internet. Needless to say, there are far more predators stalking children on the internet than on your neighborhood road to school!

Figuring out the odds of danger or dying is tricky business. I get that. For instance, you are much more likely to die in a car accident than on a motorcycle or in an airplane. That’s not because cars are more dangerous than motorcycles, it’s because more people ride in cars than on motorcycles. Obviously, the odds of surviving an incident of jumping out of a moving vehicle are much greater in a car than an airplane. That doesn’t mean jumping is safe in either case.

Would you think the risk of death is greater from guns, opioids or cars? The leading cause of death by injury in the US right now, according to insurance statistics, is drug poisoning. Over 61,000 people died from drug poisoning while only 14,542 died from firearms. You may protect your child from drugs—opioids especially (43,000+ deaths per year). Guns may cause more alarm and get more press but automobiles are several times more dangerous than firearms. Just over 40,000 people die every year from our favorite rite of passage—driving or riding in a motor vehicle.

When it comes to safety, the object is less dangerous than the ignorance. I remember a father who agreed to keep a handgun for a while for a friend who was going through a rough patch in his emotional health. Believing that his wife should know the contents of the shoe box in the closet to avoid any accidents, he discharged the gun through a couple of her dresses, thankfully pointed away for everyone and toward the ground! Experience with hunting rifles and shotguns, doesn’t make someone safe with a handgun! Ignorance can be fatal.

Some dangers can be avoided. Young fathers should reconsider their skydiving, mountain climbing and motorcycle habits. Things that were safe as a man with no responsibilities become dangerous for the well-being of two or more other people after the birth of a child. It isn’t a question of rights; it’s a matter of who gets to eat if the household income goes on hold or gets cut in half for several months—or forever.

Other dangers can be lessened with training. I prefer the pilots flying the planes I occupy to have proper training. I still have a habit of looking into the cockpit before boarding. I’m just funny that way. The same goes for automobiles. Taking your child out for training behind the wheel can lessen their risk of accidents. It will not overcome 15 years of bad driving examples, however. We teach our children how to drive from the time they are old enough to notice how we drive. They also learn what to call other careless drivers and which gestures are effective in showing outrage.

Risk itself isn’t the enemy. Constant safety shouldn’t be the main goal. Teaching children to be careful should not include the removal of all risks. The debates over how much to childproof a living room carry into the yard, the car and the choice of occupation. Risk is a part of life. Some of the safest people I know live and work around some very dangerous people and equipment. Thankfully the public safety officers around us have been trained to manage risk and protect other people. That’s who I’m calling if I have a problem.

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