In a recent Times article, it stated that self-defence experts are leading school classes to warn young people to disguise costly equipment, dress down, and avoid taking shortcuts.
Cyclists are increasingly becoming a target for robbers, with road bikes retailing from £100 to £1,000 and beyond, and as the popularity of cycling to school and work grows. Insurance companies said that there had been a rise in reports of “aggravated theft”, meaning robbery, from cyclists.
I'm writing a short piece for IslingtonNow on this and would love any thoughts on whether this is a good/bad thing, whether you've ever experienced theft on your bikes or general safety in London?
Look forward to seeing the discussion.
I have never had an issue of this sort.
I can't see any major objection to providing guidance of this sort to children.
My only concern with it (and, by extension, with an article on it) is that it may suggest that the risk of an incident of this sort is greater than it actually is with the result that even fewer children, middle class or otherwise, will use a bike to get to school. This is obviously a bad thing in public health, environmental and transport terms. If, for example, the data shows that while there has been an increase in incidents of this sort children are much more likely to (say) have their mobile phones stolen while at school such guidance would make less sense and may only serve to create the latest parental panic du jour.
And insurance companies will always be inclined to overstate risks to mitigate potential liability.
Proper data, explained in an appropriate context, is therefore everything.
In my experience very few children go to school by bike compared with the situation a few years ago and I don't believe that the number is increasing. It would be a shame to provide a further deterrent to doing so which is not supported by robust evidence.
Naturally, I appreciate that that perspective does not sell newspapers.
I too have never had an issue.
If I was in your position I would use this as a good opportunity to provide a critique of the reaction of schools and also list clear facts for worried parents, as Richard suggests, in your article. Statistics on the incidence of crime for example would be helpful in dispelling the many myths created by publication bias.
As an aside, I think the headline of your post can be misleading because when I read it my interpretation was children are being taught physical means of repelling an attacker, as opposed to sensible steps to avoid the risk of being attacked. I think the former would be a very bad idea, as I suspect the probability of an attacker being better equipped - in every sense - than a 'middle class' child is pretty high.
Is there any evidence that muggings are a greater risk for middle-class children? It seems divisive to promote self-defence specifically for middle-class children, and I would expect children living in poorer areas would be more at risk.
Thanks for you comments and suggestions as well. I will look into this.
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