I am talking mostly in regards to kids. our parents grew up without bike helmets, knee pads, or elbow pads; fighting in the school yard; living in houses with lead based paint on the siding and asbestos insulation in the attic. Most of them turned out fine. they didn't have all these "safety rules" we have now days.
I don't think America is becoming sensitive, I think they are trying to add fining to just about anything now to get more money. As sick as it is. I grew up mostly not wearing pads and a helmet and I got the boo-boos, but I lived on.
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in a way YES america is getting too sensitive.
the asbestos and lead paint is pretty much common sense to get rid of and was pretty unsafe. if you look back further you will find people were taking mercury as a medication for certain ills and the use of narcotics was fairly prevalent - with regards to toxins and narcotics we have gotten smarter in what not to have in everyday products- except for china- they feel the need to put lead in everything still.
where the US is getting too sensitive is in the politically correct movements, you can't say jungle anymore- it is a rainforest environment- that kind of thing is a load of crap.
the safety items and rules we currently have are needed to help save peoples lives, i am an EMT and it really hurts to see a child hurt because of not having a helmet on- respond to one of those scenes and it will make you a believer in safety equipment.
I have responded to those scenes as a Military Police Officer, I have seen bike spokes thru calf muscles and worse. Please don't get me wrong I see your point. All I am wondering is are we going to far in trying to protect our children. If they grow up in a big protective bubble are they going to be ready for the world when there out on there own.
I'm not sure how the improvement of safety standards makes America "too sensitive". I understand your point about kids living in a bubble; I think that would make them unprepared for the real world. The thing is, the examples you gave don't seem overprotective to me. How is making a child wear a helmet overprotective in any way? The majority of children never have an accident and may feel like wearing a helmet is pointless, but a helmet actually saved me from brain damage (or at the very least, a serious concussion) when I was 5. The same goes for the lead-based paint. Most kids probably grew up just fine, but little kids who like to eat whatever they see could pick up a paint chip and cause some serious damage to their nervous system. So no, I don't think America is becoming to sensitive. That whole adage of "oh, it will never happen to me" is not something we should be applying to our children. If anything, we're learning how to better protect the future generations from harm.
Bf\efore now, people lived among woods which could not move and could not hit back, unless we hit them. To day we live among moving vehicles. You could only get bruises by hitting s tree, but brain damage if you ever hit a moving cars or motorbikes. So helmet is not too over protective.
I think, if you had access to the cost of health care and the growing expense of it from a government standpoint, you'd want to try and prevent as any * avoidable* accidents as possible, too.