Document Type

Journal Article


Shaping the attitudes and values of the young is a weighty task, arguably made more so by the sheer volume and range of perceived ‘risks’ to children’s health in contemporary times (Giddens, 1991; Leahy and Harrison, 2004; Lupton, 1995). Alcohol, drug-taking, smoking, bullying, the sun, and stranger danger are just a few of the concerns dominating public discourse, and in the past decade panics generated around ‘childhood obesity’ have created unprecedented concern over children’s eating habits and physical activity levels (Campos, 2004, Gard, 2004; Gard and Wright, 2001, 2005) together with warnings of the dangers implicit in their video game-playing and internet practices (Song and Anderson, 2003). One of the key discursive themes emerging from analysis of the reporting on children’s health is the twin positioning of young people as perennially ‘at risk’ of a range of health-inhibiting substances and behaviours but also as ‘risky’ or ‘dangerous’ because of their propensity to indulge in those very practices that threaten their own and others’ wellbeing both now and in the future (Burrows and Wright, 2004a, 2004b; Kelly, 2000; Leahy and Harrison, 2004).