Do we need an artificial sense of danger?

climbingThe possibility of death and a sense of danger is what makes the Duke of Edinburgh award so appealing to young people. This is what Prince Edward said to an Australian newspaper as he was promoting the scheme.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is designed for young people between the aged of 14-25 to undergo programs of development in any of the following activities…

• Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community.
• Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
• Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
• Expedition: planning, training for and completion of an adventurous journey.

The last being the most alluring. As it offered an element of serious danger, that “you could die doing this.” according to Prince Edward.

And indeed someone did. In 2006 of a 17-year-old from Sydney, who had set off for a bush walk in the Blue Mountains as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme died during his adventure.

The prince said that the tragedy had actually boosted interest from the young:
The sense of adventure, the sense of excitement, that it gave you that sort of risk element. That’s going back many years but young people are like that, there’s still that sense of adventure.”

So is that what we need, an incentive to take risks and face danger? I can only speak about my life and I do lead a relatively safe one. My definition of danger would be coming home late and being mugged. But does living a fairly safe life make you lose your sense of adventure and more importantly make you lose your instincts to deal with danger?

And what about people in war zones? Listening to Lubna, Khadija and Fareedoone  a few days ago,  about their lives in conflict zones, I couldn’t help but think about how different my definition of danger is from theirs. To them, leaving the house everyday is taking a life threatening risk. To me it’s something I really don’t have to think about.

30 Responses to “Do we need an artificial sense of danger?”

  1. 1 Dennis Junior
    October 30, 2009 at 12:52

    I have to support the idea in theory because, it would be a wonderful idea…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  2. 3 Nigel
    October 30, 2009 at 13:04

    Being able to court death and turning the circumstances on and of is a luxury for those of us who live in peace. For the young men who live in neighbourhoods where death by gun or knife is the biggest single cause of death this has no meaning. For people living in a war zones, facing death is a daily struggle in which being able to enjoy the safe moments of peace and quiet becomes the challenge.

  3. 4 gary
    October 30, 2009 at 13:54

    I think what is desired is a real sense of purpose, or an honest expectation of accomplishment in an activity, rather than the mere presence of danger. I believe the Duke of Edinburgh award is directed more toward the “get off your duff and do something of benefit to yourself and others” aspect rather than the “go out and face danger to keep in practice” one. Almost everyone wants to be a hero, and it is well to remember that heroes do not engage in dangerous activities with the intent of saving lives; they strive to save lives whether or not the prevailing conditions are dangerous.

    October 30, 2009 at 13:56

    You should not be induced to take risks at all for the sake of risk taking. On the other hand sometimes risk can come unexpectedly and in unavoidable circumstances like those who find themselves trapped in war zone. In such situation the best bet is to let your survival skills evolve with risk. No one is comfortable looking down a finished well for fear of tumbling in. The diggers are no different. Their boldness evolves withe the depth increase. At end of it is possible to hear someone remark; ‘I didn’t know I could do this’.

    October 30, 2009 at 14:35

    As an after thought, I think people should not shun risk management drills like the ones conducted by experts in fire, crime, first aid, terrorism and so forth so that one can have a degree of understanding of what to do.
    In all other cases, you should be well versed with consequences and ask your self whether you can handle the fallout. The sticking point is the information available beforehand and whichever organization that invites people into risk-taking activities should avail enough information so that participant know what to expect. If one is not sure, they should consult sufficiently from other sources before taking a tumble.

  6. 7 Teejay
    October 30, 2009 at 14:48

    maybe this puts us in touch with the less developed era of humanity when we hunted on the plains. I sailed yachts offshore for 15 years in my twenties and early thirties. I loved the danger and was in extremely dangerous situations several times. I believe i challenged myself and came through. However, now in my forties, i feel less compunction to face danger and prefer to think my way out of situations rather than muscle. I do understand the compulsion for younger people to challenge themselves. I wonder how prince harry might answer this question once he is in his forties???

  7. 8 patti in cape coral
    October 30, 2009 at 15:30

    I have to agree with those above that looking for the sense of danger for it’s own sake seems pretty empty, and what is really needed is a sense of purpose. The danger is incidental in certain circumstances, not the main point of the actions taken. Of course, there are those of us who are thrill seekers who put ourselves in dangerous situations. I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong, but not really particularly heroic or brave, since it is being done for self gratification. Then there is also another group of people who do it for public recognition, or even a mixture of reasons.

  8. 9 Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite
    October 30, 2009 at 15:49

    This is a question about the young who run into danger through their unbriddled enthusiasm. Danger need not be the incentive and nobody should be encouraged to do anything for the sake of danger as a developing factor. Danger takes very delicate forms in enthusiastic engagements and these challenge a young person. This is and must be sufficient educationally and developmentally. Any adult person does well if he proposes enticing engagements to the young together with rewards meeting the efforts. The experience comes in the process. I believe that the proverb “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”, sums up on the engagements of the young quite appropriately.
    Thank you.
    Marija Liudvika Rutkauskaite

  9. 10 Stephen
    October 30, 2009 at 15:52

    I think it is a fairly wrong idea because it elimanates what I would call a componet of life. This makes life incomplete. Lastly we didnt invent life thus cant change its original form.

  10. 11 Ronald Almeida
    October 30, 2009 at 16:29

    Life for the young especially in the developed countries is terribly boring thanks to all the technology, so they are bound to want a sense of adventure. Without an element of danger there is no adventure. Even if its only an illusion, more often than not.

  11. 12 Jens
    October 30, 2009 at 17:15

    it is difficult to explain, but the thrill of having for example skied a 50 degree steep slope is a total thrill. the risk is there, since falling can be pretty dangerouse. while i get the thrill doing so a beginner might feel the same about a blue run. the point is that one sets these challanges oneself. if i look down a slope and say this might kill me…..I will step away, because I like my life and I certainly do not need ski patrol (which I am myself) to put their life on line for my stupidity.

    Ever driven a motrobike at 165 mph, no that is a rush

  12. 13 Tom K in Mpls
    October 30, 2009 at 17:31

    I have and in some small cases still enjoy what some consider danger. Most of these activities are not dangerous if you know what you are doing. Especially the ones proposed. To me and others, it is not thrill seeking, it is learning and expanding your abilities. A ‘control thing’ if you like. To me, Prince Edward is simply trying to get people to grow physically and mentally.

    Let me put out this challenge. If you think this is danger, you need to explore your abilities to increase your self confidence.

  13. 14 nora
    October 30, 2009 at 18:20

    This is entirely in the tradition of proving worth to the Clan by harnessing the warrior gene to a noble cause.

    Some people run towards the fire, most run away, partly based on the luck of genes. For those whose bodies make a wonderful drug in the face of danger, we must give healthy challenges in peacetime and good paychecks when they protect us.

  14. October 30, 2009 at 18:42

    Prince Edward was right. If young people (and some mature ones) do not find enough danger in their legal lives, they will thrill-seek through unhealthy, or illegal or antisocial activity – drugs, violence, self-harm…the list is creatively endless.

    Let us celebrate the non-risk-averse, the seekers of the extraordinary for humanity and in themselves. Everyone who learns just a little about themselves has just had an adventure and risks taking a risk. We need that balance of risks where the benefits exceed the costs.

    Ian Lewis, Campaign for Adventure

  15. 16 John in Salem
    October 30, 2009 at 19:10

    Nature teaches us things that are impossible to learn otherwise. It is the original and ultimate classroom and the closer we get to it, with all it’s beauty and brutal realities, the more we know about ourselves.

    • 17 Ronald Almeida
      October 31, 2009 at 10:13

      I do wish most people were of your opinion but in todays world we are so bound by technological tinsel, that the majority have lost complete touch with nature. We have to study nature more before we take even a single step that may cause it harm. People who are not in direct touch with mother nature will never understand that she is not only the best technology we have but also the greatest teacher. At least the poverty in the developing world has kept people there more in touch with her.

      • 18 Tom K in Mpls
        October 31, 2009 at 16:09

        Actually, out of desperation, most poverty areas are the way they are because they ‘destroyed’ nature. A key need is to reduce populations to allow natural growth. This is one key reason starvation may be key to rebuilding.

  16. 19 Thomas Murray
    October 30, 2009 at 20:17

    We encounter risk every day of our lives.

    We have enough electricity coursing through our homes to kill a horse.

    We think nothing of driving down the street at 60 miles an hour (that’s 100 kph) oblivious to the damage we could cause ourselves and others.

    And the mere act of crossing a busy street on foot is an act of defiance in the face of the odds meeting our frail bodies with a two ton hunk of steel.

    As anyone who’s ever flown in a plane can tell you, life is not for sissies.

  17. 20 Robert
    October 30, 2009 at 23:55

    We need a real sense of danger. If I do X it will lead to Y.

    The point of being a teenager it to figure that out whilst Y is restricted to cuts, bruises and broken bones.

    When you move into the real world of work when your activities change, Y may become a lot more. Y might be that somebody will never work again. Y might be that somebody has to be told that a loved one isn’t coming back.

    So no, an artificial sense of danger is in reality a dangerous thing. A real sense of danger is a good thing. The point of growing up is to figure out the real cost when you can afford to pay.

  18. 21 JanB
    October 31, 2009 at 02:13

    I support this theory and believe such programs could seriously reduce crime and drug use, because adolescents have their thrill-seeking needs satisfied.
    Furthermore male instructors can put boys in their place where single mothers and female teachers often cannot, reducing crime even more.

  19. 22 No Thanks
    October 31, 2009 at 04:55

    If it can get you killed, what’s artificial about it?

    • 23 Tom K in Mpls
      November 2, 2009 at 17:28

      That is exactly the thing. In most cases, if you know what you are doing, realistically you can’t get killed. The thing is to build up to the ‘extreme’ in an intelligent way if you want to try something.

  20. 24 Chuksagwu
    October 31, 2009 at 05:20

    Danger always lurks around why go hunting for it? Or maybe an individual who grew up in a peaceful environ just wants to have a feel of trouble. For us in Africa and other hot spots of the world danger is a neighbour and survival is for the fittest!

  21. October 31, 2009 at 15:25

    Any chance of the duke himself going on one of these life-or-death escapades? Surely age is not a barrier?

  22. 26 Jim Newman
    October 31, 2009 at 15:27

    Hello again
    I think that young people taking the oportunity to arrive at their limits and then push against those limits can only be a good thing even if it’s risky and sometimes dangerous.

  23. 27 Elias
    November 2, 2009 at 17:48

    No we do not need an artificial sense of danger, what we need is a better sense of living. For those that take risks and may die in the process, good luck to them!.

  24. November 3, 2009 at 05:12

    Of course we do, we also need the common sense to recognise any person who speaks with an honest voice; with good intent and without malice. The Prince is vulnerable to the predatory press and professional nit pickers, and needs a bit of street wise tuition, although this what he is already getting the hard way.

    Careless tuition must be avoided; but you can not wrap everyone up in cotton wool because if you do we will develop a nation of young persons with no sense of danger at all and we see samples of them every day on our streets.

    The trust has a superb record on safety and needs encouragement or it will fail in its purpose, is that what the ego seeking pack of journalists want to happen?

    The fear of being vulnerable to deliberate compensation seekers has already taken away many assets being considered and increased insurance premiums to such a degree that ultra caution has become the normal path to take.

  25. 29 scmehta
    November 3, 2009 at 13:55

    There’s no such thing as artificial sense of danger. Unless the danger is genuinely real or lurking, be it in competition/adventure/fight/war, the honest or true emotion of fear can never be induced/exuded.

  26. 30 navigator
    November 3, 2009 at 18:27

    A big Nanny cotton wool mentality is what has caused many of the problems with youth today back in the fiftys & early sixties teenagers did not need to drink like they do today or take drugs. why were coffee bars and cafe’s so popular and pubs were for old men? because youth had their own real ‘home grown culture’ motorcycles and scooters that gave them a sense of danger and control of their actions.their life styles were little influenced by big business and they picked up trends and fashion by peer pressure not by mass media.
    I would take drugs and play electronic games too if all I was offered in the real world was a push bike and a funny hat

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