Winam Group Creative China Country manager Miia Tähtinen talks about safety consciousness and how it differs between Finland and China.

“I have started to actively follow the mama-papa discussion forums on Chinese social media (WeChat). One mother´s entry made me really think; there is an immense difference in Chinese and Finnish approach to safety.

This Chinese mother had purchased a play mat from Taobao, and she was deeply dissatisfied with its quality. It had been worn around the edges, and pieces had broken off. In Finland the mother would have written about the danger of suffocation or the potential hurt from serrated, sharp edges, and even worried that such a poor quality mat would likely be toxic.

This mother was angry that she needed to buy another one and would waste money. Safety did not even occur to her – or the tens of other commentators in the thread.

Safety consciousness is not an inborn ability

Safety consciousness is not an inborn ability. We all need to learn it, but we Finns are already really advanced in safety. Children walk on zebra crossings in twos wearing reflector vests and only ride their little bikes wearing a helmet. Seat belts are obligatory for everyone in the car, and the size of the child safety seats is defined by law.

Change in the past 50 years is astounding. When I was born seatbelts were decades off and I was put in a cardboard box on the backseat of the car when I went home with my newly minted mother. Since then the legislation, early education system and the whole network comprising the state and private institutions has systematically trained even normal Finns into safety and security experts. This is a wonderful national strength, and would be an important gift to the world.

However, to us this safety expertise is such a natural concept that we do not even mention it. The design strengths of a Finnish playground, such as entirely non-toxic paint, use of Nordic wood that can last for decades in wind and snow, soft landing platforms and safe fall height are so self-evident that we do not bother to mention them. They are the very basics of our operations, not sales arguments.

I think that we can never talk too much about child safety and security. Every hurt that could have been avoided by paying attention to safety is such a needless, and sometimes tragic, thing that it is always worth repeating. Every child has the right to play safely.”


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