Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Safe Behavior 

How do you teach safe behavior to a population that traditionally acts in an unsafe manner? This story reminded me of that. But, there are other stories as well -- for example, getting people to wear seatbelts. Some consider seatbelts an annoyance or something worse and only a threat of ticketing will get them to put one on while driving. They never think of the potential harm to themselves of not wearing one.

There are members of the population who accept what most of us would call unacceptable risk -- say, smokers. There is only so much one can do to persuade them to stop. The final step has to be their own. Unfortunately, the population has to bear the weight of the medical costs from their smoking.

Society can place only so much pressure in terms of laws and peer disapproval on those acting irresponsibly. After that, they must choose to get help, if they can't help themselves, or to change if they can. Persuasion has limits. Even jail terms are not enough to stop some behavior, such as drinking and driving.

Being a member of a democratic society means accepting the risks of other members in the society. Still, it is frustrating that there is no way to convince people to stop unsafe behaviors.


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