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Marie-France Le Heuzey

Children That Take Risks

• A practical guide to prevent children from adopting dangerous forms of behaviour.

• Some children and teenagers enjoy taking risks; others endanger their lives without realising it, or despite themselves.

• This book begins by reviewing all forms of hazardous behaviour: dangerous sports, violent games in the playground (from ganging up against one child to the so-called “scarf game”, i.e. strangulation), eating disorders involving extreme restrictions and vomiting, physical mutilation such as scarification, suicidal behaviour, alcohol and drug consumption. Such behaviour, traditionally typical of adolescence, now also concerns young children.

• Identifying the most vulnerable children: they tend to be hyperactive, precocious, anxious, depressed, desperate, confused children with poor academic performance.

• What motivates these children? Powerful sensations, great ordeals, the quest for meaning, the need to belong to a group, to be like their peers.

• Are these children “programmed” for dangerous behaviour? What is the role of environment, of education?

• What to do to prevent a child from being attracted to such forms of behaviour? How to identify a fragile psychological state? Are there any forewarning signs? What can be done to make the child aware of the risks involved? What should parents do? And what can they do if their child does adopt dangerous forms of behaviour?

• A most useful and necessary book, at a time when bullying, violent playground games and other forms of victimisation have become increasingly common. Could this be because the omnipresence of violence has rendered it banal? The author's reflection is part of a broader discussion on school violence.

Marie-France Le Heuzey is a medical psychiatrist in the Child and Adolescent Psychopathology ward at Hôpital Robert-Debré, Paris. She is the author of several works on child psychology, including L'Enfant hyperactif (2003) and L'Enfant anorexique (2003), and the co-author of a report on behavioural disorders among children, published in 2005 by the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM).