Monday, 12 October 2015

Young people: risks, control and growth

I think being a parent myself is a great asset to my job. I understand how difficult it is to be a parent myself, how you long to do the best thing for your kids, but so often its not obvious what the best thing is. How quickly or slowly to let go, to enable your child to learn for themselves, rather than be protected and told what to do? You also long to control the environment your child is in as much you can, to nurture and support, but lots of things are out of your control.

An example that my husband and I have faced recently. Due to circumstances beyond our control, our daughter has just started at a school at some distance to our son's school. Both schools are within walking distance of our home, but it is not possible to do the school run to both schools on foot given the start and finish times. So, we were faced with the choice: school run in the car - creating pollution, congestion and missing out on exercise - or school run on foot, letting our ten year old walk a mile to school by himself, crossing several roads which at school times get quite busy. As you may know, there is evidence that kids who walk to school perform better. So, we have opted to let him walk to school and I have alerted my mums network to let me know if anyone spots any concerns about his road crossing behaviour!

For now, the decision feels good. It is healthier and he is learning independence. But will I feel guilty and irresponsible if he has an accident? 

Organisations working with young people, face the same issues as a parent. How much can they and should they control the environment? How much risk should they let the young people take?

There is evidence that young people naturally take more risks, it's hard wired into their brains. Ben Byrne from Surrey CC will be talking about this at our Safeguarding Conference on 12th November. If you haven't already booked a ticket, book now, thanks to funding from Surrey CC, we have extended the number of places at  the conference, but still only have a few places left.

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