A few days ago on the Adam Smith blog, Callum Adams-Carr wrote that kids were perfectly responsible human beings. They were just never given the opportunity, in today’s nannying state, to be responsible. Quite so. And there’s more to it: they are never given the opportunity to learn to be responsible either.
We’re so worried about the dangers of knife crime, for example, that we try to keep knives out of the hands of children. But that’s the point: kids never learn, under the guidance of adults, how to use knives responsibly – and that knives are dangerous. Likewise with booze: health puritans find alcohol bad enough for adults, but to give it to children is positively shocking. Our repugnance of militarism leaves us with a deep suspicion of the boy scouts. The result? Kids form themselves into their own platoons of street gangs, drink specifically to get hammered, and start sticking blades into each other.
The French have it right, introducing kids to alcohol in the home, where adults can teach them its pleasures and its evils. We had it right when we sent kids to the boy scouts and gave them penknives for Christmas. Under adult supervision they learnt to handle these potentially dangerous things. And talking of penknives, the Swiss Army teaches young adults how to use guns – with the result that guns are very rarely used in crime, despite the fact that all adults possess one.
We should be exposing our kids to more dangers. And younger. And in the setting of the family and in the context of the transition from kidhood to adulthood. Then they would be more able to handle the dangerous things that political correctness prevents them from experiencing and learning to control.