The Insanity of Risk Management

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Be careful”…”Be safe”…”Watch Yourselves”…if you’re a parent you’ve said these, and many other similar phrases to your kids as they’ve headed out the door.  Gone are the days when the most pressing concerns for kids were swearing, breaking curfew and playing hooky from school.  But are the fears many parent have today for their kids warranted?  We read about abductions, shootings, suicides, accidents, gang fights…but are these legitimate and realistic concerns facing the average kid today?  There are independant agencies that are tasked with assessing risk management for companies, but how do parents fare at risk assessment with their own kids?

The following article is from Rick Lawrence of Group Magazine, and addresses some of these perceived fears parents have in their assessment of what exactly is considered risky.

The Insanity of Risk Management (excerpted from Group magazine Nov/Dec ’10)  
Clearly, there’s a chasm separating parents’ fears for their kids and the actual forces that threaten to hurt them, as evidenced by the findings below (**note from Shawn– keep in mind these are surveys compiled in the US, and may not accurately reflect those of Canadian parents…but for the most part, stats complied in the States are generally within 10% accuracy to reflect Canadian trends.  I’ve included a bonus survey result at the bottom of this post indicating the top 10 things Canadian parents fear for their kids).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, what are the top five things that cause harm to young people?
1. Car Accidents
2. Homicide (usually committed by someone they know)
3. Child Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Drowning

According to the Mayo Clinic, what are the top five things that parents say they’re worried about when it comes to their kids?
1. Kidnapping
2. School Snipers
3. Terrorists
4. Dangerous Strangers
5. Drugs

In a parent-training workshop I do called “Fighting the Entitlement Dragon,” I ask parents which thing is more likely to happen to their child: a stranger abduction or getting hit by lightning. In the climate of fear that has fueled parents’ belief that packs of kidnappers in windowless white vans are roaming their suburban neighborhoods, I know exactly how they’re going to answer. And then I tell them the truth—in the U.S. last year 115 young people were abducted by strangers, and 370 people were struck by lightning. I conclude by saying: “If you’re currently warning your kids to “Be safe!” as they’re leaving for the bus stop, you might as well add “from lightning!”

The underlying truth buried behind our erratic belief systems is just this: adults are generally terrible at assessing the risks facing our kids.

In a New York Times Magazine interview with Christie Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide, she says: “Parents are just bad at risk assessment. We are constantly overestimating rare dangers and under-estimating common ones.” Times columnist Lisa Belkin offers up this explanation: “With worst-case scenarios being thrown our way hourly on TV and the Internet, our sense of proportion and ratio becomes muddled.”

Belkin also quotes Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy: “The least safe thing you can do with your child, statistically, is drive them somewhere. Yet every time we put them in the car we don’t think, ‘Oh, God, maybe I should take public transportation instead…’ ”
(Rick Lawrence- Group Magazine…for the full New York Times article, go to: tinyurl.com/22lw3dl)

TOP TEN CANADIAN PARENT FEARS: SIDEBAR

The following are the Top Ten negative emotional states and behaviors that parents fear as threats to the future well-being of their children and teenagers.

1. Lack of confidence – seen as a threat by 62 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that lack of confidence is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (82%) followed by Ontario (58%), British Columbia (57%), Alberta (54%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (52%) and Atlantic Canada (49%).

2. Being bullied – seen as a threat by 60 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that being bullied is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (81%) followed by Ontario (56%), Alberta (54%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (53%), British Columbia (50%) and Atlantic Canada (49%).

3. Depression – seen as a threat by 57 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that depression is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (85%) followed by Ontario and Alberta (51%) respectively, British Columbia (47%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (43%) and Atlantic Canada (39%).

4. Anger Management – seen as a threat by 52 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that uncontrolled anger among children and teenagers is a threat to the long-term well-being is highest in Quebec (71%) followed by Alberta (54%), Ontario (47%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (42%), British Columbia (41%) and Atlantic Canada (40%).

5. No Interest in School – seen as a threat by 52 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that lack of interest in school threatens the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (84%) followed by Ontario (44%), Alberta (43%), British Columbia and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (42%) respectively and Atlantic Canada (33%).

6. Drug Use – seen as a threat by 52 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that drug use is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (86%) followed by Alberta (46%), British Columbia (42%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (42%), Ontario (42%) and Atlantic Canada
(33%).

7. Loneliness – seen as a threat by 50 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that loneliness is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (71%) followed by Alberta (45%), Ontario (44%), British Columbia (44%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (43%) and Atlantic Canada (36%).

8. Internet/Video game addiction – seen as a threat by 47 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that internet/video game addition is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (63%) followed by British Columbia (44%), Alberta (43%), Ontario (43%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (38%) and Atlantic Canada (33%).

9. Alcohol Use – seen as a threat by 47 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that alcohol abuse is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (74%) followed by Alberta (42%), British Columbia (41%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (41%), Ontario (35%) and Atlantic Canada (34%).

10. Gang/crime involvement – seen as a threat by 45 per cent of parents nationally

– Belief among parents that involvement in gangs and crime is a threat to the long-term well-being of their children and teenagers is highest in Quebec (82%) followed by Alberta (34%), Ontario (34%), British Columbia (33%), Manitoba/Saskatchewan (32%) and Atlantic Canada (23%).

Source- canada.com

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