Are we taking the easy way out by banning youngsters from having knives, using firearms, starting fires, making traps and the suchlike just to make life easier for ourselves?
Over the last 20 years or so in the U.K. I have, like many others, seen a system develop that has been geared around pushing the blame for almost everything onto someone else. It’s noticeable to me, and no doubt to others that as our youngsters are pressured into gaining higher and higher academic qualifications, their level of basic common sense & danger awareness seems to be falling lower and lower; this decline is now having a detrimental effect on our society.
Do Rules Really Work?
Here in the U.K. we tend to deal with problems by banning things; “Let’s make a law against it” seems to be the standard response to anything that causes a problem, without any consideration being given to the practicality of its enforcement or indeed the problems this immediately generates. We have an incident concerning a knife and we ban the carrying of knives. Someone gets shot with a handgun and we ban handguns, the list goes on and on. Have these rules cured the problems? No, of course they haven’t; they have only succeeded in taking away other peoples enjoyment and driven everything underground. You will always get a small percentage of bad people whatever you do and wherever you go, unfortunately, that’s life! By restricting the free choice of others, the system naturally generates a much larger percentage of bad people, the very thing we are trying to avoid in the first place. Politics must shoulder a large proportion of the blame for this as a large majority of laws are passed to either gain or maintain political support and rarely turn out for the greater good.
Knives and Firearms
As I’m sure some of you will be aware, most of my articles are on outdoor subjects, knives play an important role in our safety and survival, as do firearms on occasion; however, U.K. restrictions are not just limited to these items alone. I have only covered these two items because they always seem to come to the forefront when this type of subject arises. You will often hear someone say “Guns and knives are dangerous” when in actual fact they are not… They can’t be! If you leave a knife or a loaded firearm on a table in a room with one hundred people, provided they are left alone they pose no threat or danger whatsoever; they only become dangerous when in the hands of a human intent on doing harm. This statement is a fact and cannot be argued against. We all need to accept this and work to find a sensible, working solution to the problem. Could this solution come in the form of education?
Are we losing valuable life skills in a misguided quest for academic superiority? I can almost hear the cries of ‘What possible use will these skills be in a modern world?’ as I write; perhaps we need to look a little deeper. Being taken on a “Survival weekend” every couple of months nurtures important life skills such as confidence in your own ability, self-reliance, the ability to solve problems, how to plan a routine, the importance of reliability, punctuality and teamwork, the list goes on; none of which can be taught in a classroom. These core skills are in many ways more important than academic skills, the reason being that without these basic core skills you cannot realize the full benefit from the academic ones in later life. Trying to get a teenager interested in material science/metallurgy may be an uphill struggle to many teachers, but when ‘Jimmy’ wants to know why his bushcraft knife may not hold its edge quite as well as his pocket knife, he will be ‘all ears’. The situation repeats itself when ‘Freddy’ wants to know why his shelter has fallen down on top of him; you will find him a lot more responsive when you mention that ‘For equilibrium, the sum of the clockwise moments must equal the sum of the counter clockwise moments’! When you take a youngster shooting they look upon the physics involved in ballistics with much more enthusiasm; all this has to be a good thing. The vast majority of youngsters today cannot even tie half-a-dozen basic knots! If you treat a youngster like an idiot, that’s exactly what you’ll get! Youngsters will always make more mistakes because they are learning; if they keep on making the same mistakes over and over perhaps the fault lies with the teacher. There is more to teaching than imparting knowledge, first and foremost you have to inspire!
Knives: Weapons or Tools?
Many refer to knives as weapons when in fact, they are tools; it’s statements like this from adults that generate even more problems. No one refers to a ballpoint pen as a weapon and, as such, people don’t see it as one; however, a ballpoint pen in the hand of someone with a little knowledge of anatomy is in many ways more dangerous than a knife. The reason being that if someone has seen you with a knife they are concerned and will move away, they don’t move away when they see someone with a ballpoint pen! When held in the hand with your thumb over the top a moderate blow to a number of areas can easily result in death; are we to ban ballpoint pens? A rolled-up magazine can also make a very effective weapon as can a hardback book, a tie and a key, along with many other everyday items. We need to get youngsters used to using knives, axes, firearms and the suchlike so that they recognize them primarily as tools and not weapons.
Health and Safety
Legislation restrictions in the U.K. have made doing anything with youngsters now a complete nightmare; the wrong solutions for all the right reasons I’m afraid. By not allowing youngsters to get minor injuries we have interfered with an important natural learning process; teenagers now being unaware of danger in the same way as would have been the case a few years ago. We are sadly producing a generation of eighteen year olds with an awareness of natural danger more associated with an ten year old. In recent times, the risks involved for an adult getting involved with children are just too great and we tend to ‘steer clear’ of the whole thing; this surely cannot be the best way forward. I have a C.R.B. Enhanced Disclosure to work with kids and even I will avoid it now if I can! Youngsters need adventure and mentors; the current system makes this extremely difficult and risky. The relatively few cases of paedophilia has resulted in ‘over the top’ laws that have driven away all the decent, valuable people and left the paedophiles to carry on! Yet another rule that has had the opposite effect. A youngish father said to me a while back when talking about this ‘ Why would a middle aged man want to spend time with other peoples kids unless he’s up to no good’ This is a prime example of the low-grade, unintelligent idiots we are producing today; this needs to change before it’s too late.
Is the Pen Mightier Than the Knife?
A difficult one to answer, in my view it may be favorable to look on them more as associates in many ways, each complimenting the other. We need to temper this relentless quest for academic superiority with the introduction of basic core skills, and to do that we need to relax these ridiculous restraints concerning youngsters so that the people with these skills will come forward and impart this knowledge before it’s too late. We have to find a new system, the one we have isn’t working; could this approach provide at least a part of the solution?
Food for thought?