Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: Beware Dangerism

This was a great little Kindle Single by Gever Tully (of Tinkering School and 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) fame).

It is a nice short outline of his argument (one I share and have debated with several parents, including the one I'm married to) about the trend toward 'dangerism'. Dangerism is a term he defines as the circular ratcheting up of fear around certain activities, the hardening of safety measures around those, and the subsequent further ratcheting up of the fear induced by the hardened safety measures. For example, people fear merry-go-rounds are unsafe, so they remove them from a playground or two, which then incites other people to assume they are unsafe because they've been removed from a few playgrounds, etc.

In the book, he breaks down the numerous factors contributing to this, among which are media fear-mongering, fear of litigation, tendency of individuals to focus on risks they can have effect upon, and more. It's a nicely structured argument in a short format.

I fear that it's not robust enough an argument to withstand someone who's decided to believe in one of these dangers - maybe that's not even possible - but it can at least provide helpful fodder to the debate.

Beware Dangerism!


Greg said...


I let my kids walk from home starting at age 10, and take the subway by themselves at 13.

Great for their self-confidence and self-esteem, and NY is far safer today than it was in the 70s.

And I'm troubled by the disappearance of see-saws from playgrounds. Sure, there's some risk involved, but as a kid, I remember thinking they were the single most fun thing at the park.

Life is filled with risk. Kids need to take risks -- within reasonable limits -- and parents need to let them do so.

But of course, I'm a serial entrepreneur, so obviously I'm less risk-averse than most.

Andy said...

Queue up Meg Meeker's The Dangerous book for boys...

and whatever happened to the burn barrel and a couple of broken fan belts being the after school baby sitter? (in the early 80's most parents were too cheap to spring for video games)