Kids need to learn survival instincts early

By Niall O Murchadha Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-21 19:30:04

One of the greatest tragedies in life is when parents survive their children. The story of the 10-year-old boy who drowned in the Liangshui River in Fengtai district is both a sad tale and a cautionary reminder of how life can be snatched away so quickly. However, it is an incident that is likely to become more frequent in an urban world where children are not sufficiently prepared for the random dangers of living. 

A debate is taking place over the death centered on a hole in a fence bordering the river. The hole is being seen by some as central to the cause of the untimely passing of this unfortunate child; the argument being that if the fence didn't have a hole in it, the death could have been prevented. This is belied by the reality that there are many other access points to this river.

The idea that the fence is the epicenter of this tale falls in line with the modern belief that any risk of any kind must be eliminated, and that we must exist much like premature babies in incubators. Wrapping children in cotton wool is neither a realistic nor desirable solution to the everyday perils of living. It should be noted that there were two boys observed to be playing not far from where the body was located.

The most heartening part of this story was the sighting of the two boys playing. Shouldn't they have been at home, doing intensively studying to prepare for the following academic year? Much like their Western counterparts, who are locked away at home because of an irrational fear that every single stranger they might encounter on the street is a pedophile, Chinese kids don't appear to get much training or experience about how to live life in the real world, away from the artificial construct we claim is "civilized living."

We don't let young children pick up food off the ground, yet we're perplexed when their immune system does not function properly. We prevent children from using knives or starting fires, yet we're shocked when they are unable to automatically carry out adult tasks once they reach their 18th birthday. We subconsciously assume that children would be able to get by in life despite the fact we have denied them the experiences that enabled us to do so.

Living is dangerous and not all deaths can be prevented. Paradoxically, if children are introduced to the threats of life at an early age, they have more chances of avoiding life-threatening situations. The parents in this instance were merely unlucky compared with other parents.

Teaching children basic skills such as swimming, how to use a knife or start a fire, even showing them how to lick a battery to test if it's active, is of immeasurable help. Allowing them to put these lessons into practice on their own outside with their peers reinforces this. Ultimately, it's about what kind of society you want.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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