Boys and Risk: The Reality of Reality TV

There is one glaring fact that needs to be known about young adult males: They constitute 90% of all reported workplace injuries. I use the word ‘reported’ since it is impossible to say how many go unreported.

Are they as risk averse as females? Not remotely. One reason has to do with their influences. Some people might call them the ‘Jackass Generation,’ Jackass being one of the first web series ever targeting young adult males featuring dangerous activity. For the uninitiated it features a group of young – and not so young – adult males participating in stunts that are generally very dangerous and often resulting in injury. It is just one of a long list of similar shows including ones which cover sports like skateboarding and cycling where dangerous stunts are also front and center.

Sadly, most of these shows feature activities performed with little if any protective gear. There is no shortage of lacerations, bone breaks and head injuries shown and then repeated in slow motion.

While these injuries are real, there is rarely any follow-up to document the long term effects – not good for ratings one can only assume.

That’s where we need to step in. Once again communication is the key to whether they will be receptive to information which may save them from harm or not. It is important that they make the connection between risk taking on the street and in the workplace.

First discuss with them what their take is on the risks the people on these TV shows/web videos are taking. Are they aware of any life altering injuries of the people on any of these shows?

Then ask them about their workplaces. Are there any people that indulge in risky behavior, either for the fun of it or otherwise (ignoring rules, not wearing PPE)?

Here’s another very important discussion topic. Do their supervisors indulge in risky behavior? It might seem like a small thing for their boss to not wear a seatbelt while operating a forklift, but workplace behavior is very much ‘top down,’ when it comes to young workers. They tend to emanate the behavior of those to whom they report. In the case of forklift crashes, the single biggest difference between walking away from the incident or being carried on a stretcher is wearing a seatbelt.

Having productive dialogue with the young male worker in your life is a huge step in the process of helping them mature into adults, making good decisions and leading productive, healthy lives.

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