Monday, March 31, 2014

Safety Obsession

Safety, and particularly 'Health and Safety' seems to have become something of an obsession with some people today. Most, unfortunately, is in a negative sense. It should be used as a way of protecting people, but it has been used more and more by organisations to merely prevent people doing various things so that if there is an accident they won't get sued. Town councils have been known to prevent the use of hanging baskets because they fear if they put them up there is the possibility of one falling down and hitting a passer-by, however remotely. Then there was the story about a school where the children had to wear googles in order to play conkers (if you are reading this outside the United Kingdom, you won't know what this refers to. Please do a Google search to find out as I'm not going to describe this activity here.) 

As a child I lived on a farm and this was in a village. I think a farm can be considered one of the least safe environments for a child to grow up, what with the amount of mechanical equipment in use, animals either bighting, kicking or passing on some form of disease or bacterial infection. I can remember an incident when my  younger brother had a school friend come to tea one afternoon. They went off wandering around the farm yard and were gone for several hours. My mother wanted them to come in for their tea and went to look for them. There had been an accident. Parked somewhere in the farm yard was a large elevator which was used to lift bales of hay and straw when they were building straw stacks in the Dutch barn which was at the top of the yard. The children had decided to use tho elevator as a sort of slide and had been climbing up and down and sliding down the elevator but during this game the thing had tipped up with them on it. Fortunately they weren't injured, but it could have resulted in  a serious injury or even one of them being killed as this machine was vary heavy. It must have collapsed with an almighty noise and certainly quite a force. 

We used to help with the harvest and would ride on the loads of straw bales which were picked up on the  trailers and taken back to the farm by tractors. Looking back it seems amazing how dangerous this was, you could easily have fallen off, but you simply never thought of the dangers. 

I don't ever remember the back door of the farmhouse being locked during the day. This meant that people could come and go. I don't imagine that any of the houses in the village had their doors locked, unlike today. I think you trusted people. I don't recall there ever being any robberies from people's homes. It was virtually unheard of. 

I used to build tree houses all around the garden and farm. One in particular was in a very high oak tree, but I don't think the fact that it was so high up ever crossed my mind. It would have been a long way to fall if it had either collapsed or I made a wrong footing. I also made a hideout underground, by digging quite a deep trench in the orchard and then making the roof with wooden stakes laid across and on top of this laying sheets of corrugated tin and wood and over this piling earth. Actually, thinking about it now, quite dangerous, as there was the strong possibility of it caving in and burying me in the trench, but there again, it would never have crossed my mind. I can remember being inside this hideout one afternoon when my mother came out to hang some washing out on the line which was across the garden. Here mind was obviously elsewhere and suddenly I came out of the entrance of the hideout and she saw me and virtually jumped out of her skin!

I know there is a lot in the news about such things as child abuse and the enforced introduction of child protection, but it seems a pity that a lot of children don't experience the sort of life that I lead as a child, due to too much over-protection. I realise that there has to be a certain amount of protection for genuine safety reasons and to protect them from certain unsavoury characters who are out there, but it seems that children who are over-protected and don't get a chance to experience basic things such as climbing trees and being themselves as children and  exploring the world about them, and, in the end, being allowed to do things that we did naturally, won't grow up to be fully-rounded adults.
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