The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Put kids in danger

Molly Parker

In our modern times, we have become far too risk-averse. 

While it is hard to object to seatbelts or airbags—outside of New Hampshire—there are many “safety improvements” we have made that are more questionable.

It is worth remembering one thing—no one lives forever—which means that there’s an inherent risk involved in all activities, and many seemingly perilous activities might not actually be that dangerous.

Our safety improvements have seriously diminished children’s access to cool toys. 

For example, in 1950, for $50—pretty expensive at the time—a parent could buy their kid a science kit containing uranium ore, a geiger counter, a cloud chamber and more, according to the Museum of Radiation and Radioactivity

This kit, and others like it, is an ideal of youth entertainment that has been slowly eroded away. My childhood did not include anything quite as interesting, with only baking soda volcanoes and borax rubber.

Admittedly, the decline in chemistry sets is understandable. Giving children radioactive materials and toxic chemicals does seem unwise. 

I think instead of these sets just evaporating into thin air like they did, it would have been better to just teach the children to respect the materials that they were using. 

This is a trend reflected across all of American childhood: there has been a move away from children roaming around and finding things to do toward structured activity and supervision, according to a Jan. 3, 2019 article in the Economist

Kids are not allowed to go in public by themselves, even just to walk to a friend’s house. While this is in the name of safety, it is reflected in the general trend of increased parental vigilance. 

Now that children have phones, they should have much more freedom, not less. Unlike in the 50s where a child lost in the woods had to struggle to find their way out, a kid now can just use a map or call their parents. 

The shift toward supervision is not a rational one. 

We are removing exploration in childhood even as society continues to become safer. 

We should not construct our society like a padded box. 

We should not create narrow acceptable paths for people to take. We ought to live in a society that can accept and handle risk without letting fear of potential danger kneecap us. 

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About the Contributor
Molly Parker
Molly Parker, Illustrations Editor
(She/her) Molly Parker is a senior studio art and anthropology double major from Hopedale, Mass. She had been a member of the illustrations team since the spring of 2020 before becoming editor of the section in the spring of 2023. Molly also creates prints and zines that she displays in the Burlington area as well as her hometown. Apart from illustrating and creating art, she loves watching horror movies, cooking and crocheting. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Molly.