Issues of Risk: ‘A world without risk would

Issues of Hazard: ‘A universe without hazard would be a universe without uncertainness. Would we desire it if we could hold it? ‘ ( Adams 2001:17 ) .


We live in a hazard witting society where we are bombarded with images of the effects of smoke, imbibing, careless drive and eating the incorrect sorts of nutrient. Hazard, nevertheless is a characteristic of human life, people will state, for illustration, that you take your life in your custodies every clip you cross the route, or bed is the most unsafe topographic point in the universe because that is where most people die. In malice of these hazards nevertheless we continue to traverse roads and most of us sleep in a bed every dark. We start taking hazards every bit shortly as we learn to creep and to walk kids are, as Adams ( 1995 ) points out, on the one manus excited by and funny about hazard, and on the other their advancement is curbed by an unconditioned sense of danger. Somehow they manage to equilibrate these two things and most survive the normal hazards of childhood.

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This paper will get down by trying to clear up and give a definition of the construct of hazard. It will analyze the paradox that while we seek to extinguish or at least minimise hazard in our every twenty-four hours lives at the same clip we look up to society’s hazard takers, one has merely to believe of the regard in which award combatants, motor rushing drivers and even bungee jumpers are held to cognize that at some degree society extols those who take hazards. The paper will so seek to exemplify, in the context of kid protection, how the publicity of safety and the riddance of hazard are common characteristics of modern-day society.


There is no clear or concise definition of hazard. Furedi ( 1997 ) maintains that the West has what might be termed a ‘culture of safety’ where anything that constitutes hazard is ever accompanied by warnings that tell us why we should non make it. At the same clip the increasing accent on personal duty in footings or hazards to our wellness etc implies that the sum of hazard a individual faces is mostly governed by the human ability to take instead than any accident of destiny. Although this is non rather the same for kids who have the determinations taken for them by ‘responsible’ grownups until they are considered old plenty to do these picks for themselves. While grownups may be considered responsible for their actions they may non ever be seen every bit good informed as to the effects of those actions therefore there are a figure of ‘higher authorities’ who assume for grownups a similar function to that which an grownup has for a kid. It is assumed that the governments have superior cognition with respect to hazards and how to pull off them ( Adams, 1995 ) . One of the concerns of the British Welfare State was pull offing the hazards that human existences face during their life-times it acted as a rampart against the future jobs of old age and unemployment ( Giddens, 2001 ) . At the same clip it gave the province greater powers to step in in household life. The proviso of societal services to provide for assorted societal demands and supply residential attention for orphans or for those kids who were abandoned, besides meant province power to step in if a kid was deemed out of control or considered to be at hazard within the household place.

There are any figure of factors that we make take into consideration before we decide to take a hazard, non least any resulting effects that may originate as a consequence of our pick. We may make up one’s mind to take hazards where the odds are stacked against us as in gaming, or avoid things where in existent fact the hazard is minimum merely because it is a rare occurrence ( Kemshall, 2002 ) .Adams ( 1995 ) maintains that although the word hazard is in changeless usage and the topic of much topical argument it is really hard to specify. In the 18th century the construct of hazard was mostly synonymous with fiscal loss or addition, hazard was associated with gaming of one kind or another. The construct of hazard therefore alterations over clip the rise of scientific discipline and mathematics meant that hazard became rooted in chance thought. Scientific thought has led us to believe that the societal every bit good as the natural universe may, as Lupton ( 1999 ) contendsbe measured, calculated, and hence predicted( 1999:6 ) .This was about a fatalistic position of hazard. The thought that we can mensurate and foretell the universe in this manner has been challenged by some minds. Beck ( 1992 ) and Giddens ( 1994 ) [ 1 ] have argued that in this postmodern age the hazards that we face are planetary and our cognition refering the results or effects of such hazards are non easy determined.

Hazard is a changeless characteristic in the media ( more so since recent terrorist onslaughts in London ) and we are invariably reminded of all the hazards we might confront merely because we are alive. Contemporary society is so concerned with reconciliation and managing hazard that human existences become concerned with avoiding hazard and avoiding non merely existent injury, but possible existent injury, therefore increasing concern over issues such as the possible sexual maltreatment of kids. Kemshall ( 2002 ) maintains that there has been so much concern with the dangers that a alien might show to a kid that the public reaction and policy responses tend to disregard the fact that kids are more likely to be murdered or abused by their parents or person they know than a alien. Beck ( 1992 ) maintains that we live in a ‘risk society’ and that all our attempts to incorporate and pull off hazard more frequently consequence in greater hazards. There exists, he argues, a multiplicity of hazards, therefore he writes:

There occurs, so to talk, an over-production of hazards, which sometimes relativise, sometimes supplement and sometimes surpass one another. One risky merchandise might be defended by dramatizing the hazards of others ( for illustration, the dramatizationof climatic effects minimises the hazard of atomic energy( Beck, 1992:31 )

Beck maintains that the hazards we face are non limited to environmental factors but altering cultural forms and switching employment along with the dislocation of traditional societies and familial relationships present hazards to people ( Giddens, 2001 ) .

Increasingly childhood and adolescence have become debatable constructs and immature people are perceived as different and more hard than their forebears. They are frequently in state of affairss where they are deemed to be ‘at risk.’ Giddens ( 1998 ) has argued that the modern universe is characterised by manufactured hazards, .practises and policies that are meant to cut down hazard or minimise injury frequently have unintended effects. As Giddens maintains with respect to warnings about hazard:

We merely can non cognize ahead when we are really ‘scaremongering’ and when we are non( Giddens, 1998:30 ) .

Scaremongering approximately perceived hazard raises public anxiousness and leads to unanticipated results. Nowhere was this more apparent than the errors made in Cleveland in the late eightiess when widespread kid maltreatment was believed to hold taken topographic point and Numberss of kids were removed from household places on flimsy grounds. Serious errors were made in an effort to forestall injury. The accusals were subsequently proved baseless but some parents had to travel to the European Courts in order to acquire their kids returned. As Kemshall ( 2002 ) maintains we have become defensive about hazard and see it in footings of injury to be avoided this negative position of hazard can take, as Douglas, ( 1992 ) contends to a civilization of incrimination.

The ( system we are in now is about ready to handle every decease as indictable to someone’s history, every accident as cuased by someone’s condemnable carelessness, every illness a threatened prosecution. Whose mistake? Is the first inquiry( Douglas, 1992:15-16 ) . [ 2 ]

This civilization of incrimination as Kemshall et Al ( 1997 ) has stated agencies that both administrations and persons have to acquire risk direction right or they can be held accountable to a point where it consequences in legal proceedings. This can be seen in the condemnable justness system and in the public assistance system. Douglas ( 1992 ) has argued that depending on their utility to the societal system certain hazards are selected and legitimated to arouse public concern. Kemshall ( 2002 ) identifies risk as a cardinal characteristic of public assistance discourse and raises the inquiry of whether hazard is replacing demand in personal and societal services. This may non be so surprising as the origin of the public assistance province was concerned with pull offing hazard. Corby ( 1993 ) identifies an addition interventionist attacks to child public assistance since the Second World War.

Hazard in the Context of Child Protection

Rams ( 1962 ) has argued that prior to the 17th century the constructs of childhood and adolescence did non be. While this position has been challenged it is true to state that in pre-industrial societies there was small differentiation between young person and maturity and kids were non subjected to different codifications of behavior. During the 17ThursdayCentury parents were deemed to hold duty for their progeny and to see that they had a safe and disciplined upbringing. This fresh thought of childhood and the household did non suit good in a civilization where everyone was expected to be economically active, this created different apprehensions of childhood harmonizing to category. Children were the legal belongings of their parents and child inhuman treatment did non go an offense until 1889. Corby ( 1993 ) contends that more recent historical grounds suggests that there has ever been a construct of childhood but that there has been a inclination for this to be extended to a longer period of clip and has come to:

…gain more attending as a separate class, a procedure that is testified to by the growing in child protective statute law( Corby, 1993:11 ) .

In recent old ages at that place has been a furter extension to the construct of childhood and they are by and large viewed as a vulnerable group in demand of attention and protection. Corby ( 1993 ) maintains that historical grounds suggests that while impressions of what constitutes proper rearing have altered at different points in history there has ever been a concern over kid maltreatment. Following the debut of the 1989 Children’s Act Corby studied policy responses to the attention of kids and kid maltreatment over the last hundred or so old ages. While for much of that clip policies had been ambivalent ( Hemshall, 2002 ) in efforts to protect kids while at the same clip avoiding to much of an interventionist attack since the origin of the public assistance province this has altered. Some households were identified as job households and new classs of kid maltreatment and what was meant by the term ‘at risk’ emerged and in 1952 the Children and Young Person’s Act gave greater powers to children’s sections to place households who were deemed to be ‘in need’ and to supervise their protection.

Problem households were associated with ‘cycles of deprivation’ , and kid maltreatment was medicalised as the ‘battered babe syndrome’( Kempe et Al, 1962 and Okell and Butcher, 1969, in Kemshall, 2002:71 ) .

As the 1960s came and went the countries where kids were considered to be at hazard, and the construct of maltreatment was extended to include such things as kids neglecting to boom. In the late sixtiess instances such as that of Maria Colwell were given extended media coverage and raised public concern over what was seen as a failure to protect on the portion of societal service bureaus. Subsequently the profession was progressively held to account for its failure to place hazard and to step in. Cochrane ( 1993 ) [ 3 ] maintains that the go oning figure of questions that took topographic point between the early 1970s and the 1980s resulted in societal work being practised in what he describes asa beleagured context for the profession( Cochrane, 1993:82 ) . Kemshall et Al ( 1997 ) have argued that by 1989 the context had changed from households in demand to kids at hazard.

…the impression of the ‘child in need’ and the ‘child at risk’ is constructed through the dominant discourse of modernity’s welfare-statist standardization of households. This locates kids in a delimited infinite within which certain behaviors, activities and attitudes are seen as normal or aberrant( Kemshall, 2002:73 mentioning Moss et Al, 2000 ) .


This paper has investigated the impression of hazard and whether it is possible to invisage a universe without hazard, even if we wanted it. What this minimum probe of hazard within the context of kid public assistance and kid protection tends to propose is that while we may non desire such a universe we are so conditioned to avoiding hazard that we do look to make whatever is necessary to take hazard from the universe. This inclination is greatly apparent in child protective statute law and has now reached the point where, as Kemshall ( 2002 ) concludes, public assistance proviso, and peculiarly child protection are responded to in the visible radiation of perceptual experiences of hazard instead than constructs of demand. This has affected both public assistance suppliers and those in reception of external aid. The frights of hazard it seems are can bring forth more jobs than any existent hazard might be said to present.

2000 words


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Adams, J. 2001.Hazard.London, Routledge

Kemshall, H. 2002.Hazard, Social Policy and WelfareBuckingham, Open University Press

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Hendrick, 1997. “Constructions and Reconstructions of British childhood: an interpretive study, 1800 to the present” in James, A. and Proat, A. ( explosive detection systems )Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood.Oxford, Clarendon

Beck, U. 1992Hazard Society: Towards a New Modernity.London, Sage.

Corby, B. 1993.Child Maltreatment: Towards a Knowledge Base. Buckingham, Open University Press

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