I do not normally read the New York Times, but googling around for the benefits of risky playgrounds leads to the article I was thinking of.
Essentially the article questions the notion of making children’s playgrounds into rubber rooms where safety is of paramount importance:
His [former New York City Park Commissioner Henry Stern] philosophy seemed reactionary at the time, but today it’s shared by some researchers who question the value of safety-first playgrounds. Even if children do suffer fewer physical injuries — and the evidence for that is debatable — the critics say that these playgrounds may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears that are ultimately worse than a broken bone.
The column states some very common sense ideas. Namely the idea of habituation, they note children do not go charging straight to the top of the monkey bars, but go up to a point and get used to being at that point, from that point then they base off of to conquer new heights. How many of us have gone through a similar progression while skiing?
The article also notes the research seems to indicate children falling and hurting themselves DOES NOT lead to fear and anxiety of the situation but actually quite the opposite, those children who are not exposed to the risky situations actually acquire those fears and anxieties more frequently.
Of course, parents fear the notion of seeing their children get hurt and the article’s implication is that hyper-safety is not for the children (though easily dressed up that way) but for the adults.
The upshot in my opinion is, all attempts to wrap us all in bubble wrap or keeping us from activities that carry the risk of hurt (or worse) are actually harmful to us and society.
Now get out there and be not afraid!