No Fear

Cover image for No FearGrowing up in a risk averse society

Published in 2007 by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Reprinted three times – in print as of March 2012.

“Challenges almost every assumption about contemporary childhood.”
Decca Aitkenhead
in the Guardian.

“Beautifully written […] lays out very simply how we are absolutely screwing the development of children, given our complete paranoid fear of the world we live in.”
Tanya Byron
in the Browser.

No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society argues that childhood is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion. This restricts children’s play, limits their freedom of movement, corrodes their relationships with adults and constrains their exploration of physical, social and virtual worlds.

Focusing on the crucial years of childhood between the ages of 5 and 11, No Fear examines some of the key issues with regard to children’s safety: playground design and legislation, antisocial behaviour, bullying, child protection, the fear of strangers and online risks. It offers insights into the roles of parents, teachers, carers, the media, safety agencies and the Government and shows how risk averse behaviour ironically can damage and endanger children’s lives. In conclusion, No Fear advocates a philosophy of resilience that strikes a better balance between protecting children from genuine threats and giving them rich, challenging opportunities through which to learn and grow.

Publisher’s web page for publicity information, book ordering, downloads (the full publication is available to download as a pdf) and selected news media coverage.

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Portuguese translation available.


  • “A very welcome antidote to all the wild scaremongering about children’s lives.” Helene Guldberg, in Spiked online.
  • “A welcome blast of fresh air on a topic that is burdened by adult anxiety and confusion.” Jennie Lindon, in Nursery World.
  • “An excellent resource for advocates of better outdoor experiences… a book to share with the as-yet unconvinced.” Dr Mary Rivkin, University of Maryland, in the American Journal of Play.
  • “Compelling. I read it in one sitting and continue to reflect on and share its contents.” Martha Driessnack, in Children, Youth & Environments.
  • “Tim’s timely book is a must for anyone lobbying for a more child-friendly public realm.” Alan Sutton in Play Today
  • “A MUST READ for anyone working with or caring for children! Tim Gill’s controversial book provides a thought provoking and challenging read examining the impact of children’s lifestyles today on their futures.” Network of Community Activities, NSW, Australia (buy No Fear for AUD 35).