When the awful story about Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup - the two 18-year-old volunteers who had acid thrown at them in Zanzibar - hit the news, the nation was horrified. Somewhat inevitably, and quite rightly, we have retreated into our 'risk and worry' culture. What happened to the girls is enough for the parents already reluctant to let their babies go of out into the scary world, to never let them even consider heading off to volunteer.
Yet thousands of young people go out to various countries each year returning with stories of how enriching and inspiring their trip was (whether or not they received ‘gap yah’, piss taking is irrelevant). The question is: should dangers like Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup’s put us off and stop us experiencing new things?
On the one hand, we cannot live in fear of danger, avoiding it at all costs, bubble wrapping ourselves from the world; because if you have ever watched Final Destination you would know everything and anything is a danger - it is unavoidable. Due to current prominence, suing in society has become risk-obsessed. Health and safety regulations and risk assessments are at their most extreme to avoid large law suits. For example:
- Royal Legion stops giving pins with poppies in case people prick themselves.
- Butlins banned dodgems from hitting each other to prevent whiplash and broken bones.
- School sports days banned sack races in case children fall and twist their ankles.
So should students go out and experience the world, experience different cultures and different people? Risks included? Is there some truth behind Yolo (you only live once)? Maybe living in fear of danger and avoiding all risks is not truly making the most of your life.
Risk calculations are really dependent on the individual's decision, their personal weighing up of the dangers. But working off the usual cliches is advisable... everything in moderation. In other words, if they say 'don’t try this at home don’t.'