This is a bit of a controversial post. You may have strong views about what you are about to read. Please check out the poll in the end, and also give your valuable constructive opinion.
July 5 2013 the 12 year old Tito Traversa died in a climbing accident in Italy. Tito was an experienced and strong climber. Manslaughter charges has been filed for his death . You can view a clip of the suspected mechanics of the failure leading to his death here. Soon thereafter in August a 16 year old died in a whitewater rafting accident, while on a commercial trip in West Virginia.
Adventure Sport is growing in popularity among children. It provides activity that is fun, generally not set in a ‘I-must-win-or-else’ environment but still provides morale boosting challenges. It also has that ‘cool’ factor at school. Children are capable of amazing feats. They are agile, and have not yet developed decades of limitations and fears that are programmed into an adult’s mind over time. The following clip below is of a 4 year old kid lead climbing, and showing a lot of skill and technical finesse:
Some kids even become masters of their sport, and can compete side by side with adults (which in itself I think is awesome). Check out the clips below of 11 year old rock climbing genius Brooke Raboutou, white water kayking whizz Sage Donnely and a clip on Ski Kids:
Now fatal accidents in adventure and extreme sport is very rare. As a matter of fact accidents in these activities are rare in general. My opinion is that firstly, the risk of ‘mundane’ and ‘safe’ activities are generally underestimated, secondly that where an activity poses potential for serious harm or death we become more vigilant and safety aware.
Most people take safety very serious when children are involved, as can be seen in the session in the clip below:
The topic of children participating in high risk activities has been debated for a long time. The Sports Law Canary, a blog by specialists in sports legislation discussed this three years ago under the topic Child Endangerment and Extreme Adventure. It seems that adventure and extreme sports remains unregulated until people die – even more so when children die.
Parents starting lawsuits when their children die also encourages government regulation of activities. Fatal accidents in adventure dampens the growth of the sport and its industry (which many people rely on for a living). The bottom line – nobody wants to see a children die.
Now should the participation of children in high risk activities be stopped? Should this program, developing autistic kids be canned – just because other kids died in related activities? Should the family in the clip below be prevented by a government to spend time with their kids in an activity of their choosing?
Personally I don’t think so. Adventure has so much potential to develop children into well balanced adults. It is a tool in the rehabilitation and development of kids with disadvantages in life. It provides opportunities to build that important and often neglected family bond.
In my opinion the catch lies not with the children, but with the parents. In todays demanding high paced life many parents find it just too convenient to transfer their responsibility to a group (commercial or non-profit) who can keep their kids ‘busy’ for them. Parents who push their children to achieve the dreams they themselves could not achieve and in doing so put their children at risk.
I feel that if a parent want to expose their child to adventure and extreme sport, they should firstly take the responsibility onto themselves. Get familiar with the activity. Get personally involved in the activity. Where physically possible, join with the child in the activity (where not, get personally involved in the organization of the activity). Know the risks you expose your child to.Accept the risks you expose your child to. Make yourself competent to do so. Accept the potential consequences before exposing your child.
Please vote, and give your opinion in the comments.