Children's risk-taking behaviour: implications for early childhood policy and practice

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47 Citations (Scopus)


The safety of children as they learn and develop is of prime concern for parents, teachers and legislators alike. Legislation governing the provision of early childhood services provides guidelines and procedures for reducing the likelihood of children being exposed to injuries and unsafe environments. Such strategies, however, only take account of aspects of the physical environment that can be manipulated to ensure the safety of children and do not consider those aspects of the individual child's behaviour that may contribute to unintentional injury. One such factor is children's risk-taking behaviour. The paper presents a critical review of current risk-taking literature. Components of risk taking, including sensation seeking and optimism bias, and contributory factors such as gender, temperament, and parent socialization practices are examined in light of the current legislative and accountability documents relating to the provision of early childhood services in the Australian state of New South Wales. The aim is to explore the role that these factors play in reducing children's exposure to risk and to identify directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-154
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • early childhood services
  • children's risk-taking behaviour


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