Risky un-risky business

When playground mats grow hot in the afternoon sun and torch the hands and feet of the children whose heads they're meant to cushion, what is to be done? Perhaps nothing, argues Common Good President Phillip K. Howard, who offered this week in the Wall Street Journal an op-ed that pointed out that young Americans are today so coddled and protected and shielded from their own destructive impulses and nature's whimsy that they age without learning about risk. "Scrapes and bruises are how children learn their limits, and the need to take personal responsibility," he writes. Howard is not the first to make this point, nor is he one of few who believe it--that The Dangerous Book for Boys was swept off the shelves by so many so briskly makes this clear. And yet, our country, no doubt fearful of lawsuits that threaten from the shadows, marches steadily toward anesthetization--and a future of pillowed playgrounds. They're empty, of course. All the kids are inside, wearing protective headgear, eating Doritos, and playing virtual tennis videogames.  

"Why Safe Kids Are Becoming Fat Kids," by Philip K. Howard, Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2008