New Year's dose of real life
By Trent Loos
Our society, where the essentials of life come too easily, tends to worry too much. In fact, the fewer challenges we have the tougher it becomes to assess risk. For those that think anything like "fiscal cliff" or "cancer" or "violent crimes" pose a risk today compared to life in yesteryear, you simply aren't very well versed on history.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, pull out a John Wayne western and watch it for a quick refresher. Life in those days was really a risk. If you didn't get scalped, you surely fought the elements, you battled with gunslinging drunks that wanted what you had and you probably fell off your horse a time or two. Life was tough every single day!
I have talked to school teachers, school administrators and parents, who are all asking, "What do we need to do to increase security of our schools?" All of this because one nameless nut case walked into a grade school in Newtown, Conn., and had target practice on a group of students.
I am not heartless and I do understand the pain and suffering those families were forced to deal with. I don't wish that on anyone. But the truth of the matter is that we have bigger issues to worry about than reinforcing security in order to prevent future actions like this.
For example, did you know that our school transportation systems have on average of 17,000 vehicle accidents annually? The number of school-age children that die each year in an automobile accident is 800, and roughly 150 of those are in school bus crashes.
Automobile crashes are the No. 1 killer of people globally. Every day 3,500 lives are taken and 50 million people are injured annually.
Children and young people are the worst affected, with road traffic injuries now the single largest cause of fatality among 10- to 24-year-olds worldwide. In 2004, the last year for which comprehensive data is available, road traffic injuries killed more 5- to 14-year-olds than malaria, diarrhea, HIV and AIDS.
Our revered athletics also pose a great risk. One student athlete dies every three days on school property while participating in a sporting event. Yes, 150 of our nation's most athletic and brightest students die from cardiac arrest. Yet I don't remember a news line ever bringing this risk to the forefront.
Once in a while the subject of teenage suicide comes up but I am not sure any of us put these numbers top of mind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revealed that the number of attempted suicides among teenagers had increased from 6.3 percent in 2009 to 7.8 percent in 2011. Nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it, according to the semi-annual survey on youth risk behavior.
Here is my wish for 2013: that I would have a silver bullet that could bring a dose of reality to the American public and remind them that the risk to living is that you are going to die. Unfortunately, no silver bullet exists to bring about that awareness just as there is no silver bullet to eliminate all the risks in life. The best that we can do is to use each day as a learning process in minimizing the risk. We have to put aside the notion that we must live in some sterile bubble because no matter how "burst" proof it seems, it is not living "real life."
Editor's note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.