For this question to make sense, you need to understand that I work for a seasonal program (same kids every weekend). My groups are typically very strong skiers, so we typically ski high level terrain (woods, bumps, and park). These kids are between 8 and 12 years old.
So the other day, I had a trainer visit one of my classes as a "guest coach". He made a couple of comments about safety that got me thinking.
In order to get the kids to think about skiing on their feet, he had them imagine that their skis didn't have any bindings. It was a cool idea, and the kids mostly got the idea. Afterwards, I asked if he had ever had kids ski with their boots unbuckled. His response was that doing that was so insanely dangerous that I was just asking for a lawsuit. I've never done it with kids, but I've been in plenty of clinics where we have done this. Obviously, you wouldn't ask them to do it on challenging terrain, but on something smooth, gentle, and empty, it doesn't seem like that bad of an idea.
At the end of our lesson, we went through the park, and one of the kids from another group was practicing his 180s. These weren't huge 180's, nor was he going that fast. However, the coach felt that allowing kids to ski backwards at all on skis that didn't have twin tips was just too dangerous, and actually told this student's parents that if was going to be skiing this way, he needed to be on twin tips. Now, I first learned to ski switch on all-mountain skis (with slightly turned tails), similar to what this student was on. The only time I've ever caught a tail was landing switch (accidentally) in the halfpipe. On gentle tabletops at relatively low speeds, I've never had problems skiing switch on flat skis. Do you really need twins tips to ski switch safely?
Any thoughts on either of these issues? I'm confident that I run a relatively safe group. I had zero incidents last year, and this year, I had a sprained knee and a broken thumb. Given that these kids are skiing hard every weekend, I think those are acceptable injury rates.