One thing we find with parents so protective of their children these days is that many kids just aren’t allowed to go barefoot any more.
But once those shoes are on, parents make a presumption that their kids are now safe because of them.
Here is a video about a kind of leg fracture that concerns at least some doctors; one study found about 14% of tibia fractures in very young children came from going down a slide on somebody’s lap. (Noted in this New York Times blog).
Here’s a quote of the relevant part:
Here’s an adult holding a small child between the adult’s legs, going down the sliding board. The small child is wearing a rubber-soled shoe, and that shoe, when it touches the sliding board, generates enough friction to twist the child’s leg. And the weight of the adult, coming down behind the child, forces the leg bone to break.
He specifically highlights that it is the rubber-soled shoe that gets caught.
Now, I’m not really saying that if the toddler were barefoot that they would be safe—I suspect a bare foot could stick the same way. But I am saying that, by putting the shoes on the toddler, the parent thought that the toddler was shielded from danger via the feet. And the toddler wasn’t.
If the toddler had stayed barefoot, I bet the parent would have thought twice about going down the slide that way and the injury would have been avoided.
Shoes give a false sense of safety and security. We see that all over the place. For instance, people put on hiking boots not realizing that the added heel increases the chance of a sprained ankle. They wear shoes not realizing that nails can still go through the sole (and inject shoe bacteria deep into the wound). But because they have the illusion of safety, they pay less attention to what their feet are doing.
When you are barefoot, you are forced to pay more attention to what is around you. And that can mean safer.