A Little More Perspective on (AGHHHH!!) Risk

Hi Folks! This video was sent in with a comment that says it all:

In the US, a 15-year-old can’t wait outside for a parent to pick them
up, a 10-year-old can’t walk to school alone.  In the UK, a 14-year-old can’t babysit a toddler … and in Nepal these kids are using a
wire over a river to get to school everyday! — Kate Parker Adams

The video will remind long-time readers of a similar trek made by school kids in South America who also used a zip line (over a river) to get to school. And it’ll remind the rest of us: There’s risk and then there’s RISK. In our very safe first world lives, we often treat risk like RISK. Which is somehow kind of insulting to these kids (and parents) in Nepal.

17 Responses

  1. We are so silly in this country, aren’t we? You’re so right about risk vs. RISK! Most of us here don’t know from RISK. And I think these children in Nepal value their education that much more as a result of the difficulties they endure to get it.

    This puts me in mind of the movie “Babies,” which I’m sure you have to have seen. Puts much needed perspective on how silly we can be. Babies playing in the dirt with chickens and goats and rocks as toys. And they’re actually fine, for the most part.

  2. Here’s a link to the much more scary one in South America:

  3. I want to take a zip line to my kids’ school!

  4. It is amazing how out of touch America is to the rest of the world. To make matters worse, we will JUDGE people in other countries according to our standards. No doubt, Americans look at this like child abuse and we should go in and instill our American insanity… er, “values” on these savages. Remember Manifest Destiny?

  5. I think this is amazing. Sure it is dangerous. But I wish i was exposed to this as a kid, and that my kids could be as well. To face something so terrifying and physically demanding. I think its very neat. Of course as a parent I’d probably be pooping my pants watching my kids go across. Amazing.

  6. I agree wholeheartedly with the point of the post, but let’s not over-romanticize the more “primitive” ways of getting to school — presumably disabled kids are not able to get much of an education under these circumstances, unless their parents are able to provide it directly. That’s not to criticize people in these circumstances who are managing with what they have, just to say that it’s not all rosy if you live somewhere like that.

  7. It’s amazing to me that many of us who live without RISK simulate it for fun. We think it would be fun to take a zipline to school, because if we did, we’d have an elaborate setup to ensure our safety, with locks and brakes and failsafes and helmets and nets, thus turning RISK to risk.

    Taking a zipline to school, and the grocery store, and anything else you needed, without any of these precautions, would get old FAST.

  8. I’m reading on my cell so can’t watch the videos, but remember watching a Nat Geo show a couple of years ago about kids having to cross a zip line over a ravine to leave the village (which they did everyday for school) and how one set of sibblings put the youngest sibbling into a bucket to cross because he was too young to hold onto the stick they used as a handle. I expect if a disabled person wanted to get across they would do something similiar. People make stuff work when they have too, as a whole we’re a remarkably inventive species.

  9. Wow..a few weeks ago, my car battery died. After considering asking a neighbor for a jump, I decided, “Eh, too much trouble for only half-day K…guess I’ll call my kid out of school.” Talk about getting some PERSPECTIVE and GRATITUDE.

  10. @Pentamom — no worries about over-romanticizing this way of getting to school as far as I’m concerned.
    Just watching it scares the h – e – double hockey sticks outta me.

  11. Just 2 weeks ago I, my (now) 2 year-old son, and my 2 nephews ages 5 & 8 explored the 80-odd acres of woods surrounding our place. Yes I was with them, yet still, how about this–as part of that, we had to cross a ditch about 12 feet high & 20 feet apart. The 2 nephews crawled into it & to the other side, my son–I crossed it by walking tightrope on a pipe while carrying him in my arms.

    You don’t get any adventure spending all of your time avoiding life so as to avoid all risks. I don’t want it for any children that enter my sphere of influence, especially my own.

    LRH
    Blackberry Bold 9000

  12. […] a 14-year-old can’t babysit a toddler … and in Nepal these kids are using a wire […] FreeRangeKids Related Posts:Frustrated in FloridaA Whittle Help NeededThe Luxury of American Parents’ […]

  13. i watched this video this morning and my kids were dumbfounded about how easy they have it. Didn’t stop the whines.

  14. “I expect if a disabled person wanted to get across they would do something similiar.”

    Yes, in that particular case, there is that particular solution. My only point is that some of these scenarios definitely do create a “lack of access” (I can’t conceive of any way a child who cannot walk is going to get across one of those rope bridges, for example) and so we need to remember that there’s a space between “good for them, raising their kids to be able to do what they need to do without fear” and “isn’t that just great for everybody.” Not that anyone actually said that, though.

  15. This is a way of life for these villagers. Like we need to learn to cross the street, ride a bike and drive a car. It wouldn’t make sense to hold a child back from learning to ride the zipline just like it doesn’t make sense to teach a child in North America how to cross the street. Although, I’m sure if you asked one of them, they’d much rather have a real bridge.
    The risk of taking the bridge is worth the hope of a good, happy life. That’s what Free Ranging is all about. Small, everyday risks lead to confident kids and happy adults. I’m just glad my everyday risks don’t include sitting on a plank, hanging from a wire over a raging river. It definitely puts things into perspective.

  16. When I was in kindergarten I walked to school with the neighbor boy who was in 3rd grade. Granted school was in my back yard, but still my parents didnt sit there watching us walk through our back yard to the school and into the building. i have a son now and I go back and forth between wanting to let him have the ‘freedom’ to explore while feeling the panic that society has instilled on us to be over protective and keep our children in a vaccuum. Thanks for the post.

  17. We’re finally getting a few springlike days in the philly suburbs, so my four year old and I walked up the street to meet my 10 year old coming home from school. I brought him his razor scooter and proudly using a free range baby step, said he could zoom ahead of us and we would see him at home. The one small street he has to cross has a crossing guard, so very safe. The crossing guard held him there until I caught up (moments behind). She said, “I told him to wait for mom. A van could come up fast and just grab him.” ???!!! I couldn’t believe it. Here I was giving him the slightest leash and that’s what I got. I couldn’t believe it.

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