Australians often have a giggle at the policies, events and the people of the United States. From my perspective some things that occur over there are ridiculous, and I chuckle, more from disbelief than humour.
The risk culture in the US has gotten to the point where some parents are requiring other parents to sign legal waivers of indemnity if they want their children to visit. Parents are being placed in jail and/or cited for child abuse and neglect for letting their children walk to school or go to the park on their own (I’m not talking toddlers, here). Children can no longer enjoy roasting marshmallows or learning how to build campfires at scouts or school camps because many require children to be at least 15m from a campfire on trips.
However, even as we laugh at the inanity of the situation, we are doing the same things here in Australia. Recently, a school in New Jersey, USA banned hugging and other touch between kids, and now we’ve done the same in a Victorian school. Supposedly it is because kids are playing too roughly and children are getting hurt; there were too many school yard accidents.
The older students had a ‘sit-in’ to protest. According to the media, they were reprimanded and informed of appropriate ways to deal with situations. ‘Sit-ins’ and other collective pacifist approaches used for making a strong political point has a long, often respected, and effective history. Frankly, I think the students addressed the silliness of the situation well.
As a nation, society and as individuals, we have a variety of role models to assess and learn from, and innumerable directions we can take to create our future. Why are we choosing to follow in the footsteps of one of the most litigious and paranoid cultures in the world? It can’t be healthy.