Objectives—To examine children's accounts of injury risks and opportunities for prevention. Setting—Schools, youth clubs, and a holiday activity scheme in the south east of England. Methods—Sixteen focus groups were held with 7–11 year old children. Transcripts of the discussions were analysed using qualitative methods. Results—Children were knowledgeable about injury risks and how to reduce them. They also saw injury prevention as primarily their own responsibility. However, they were also sophisticated in their criticisms of generalised prevention advice, and evaluated safety messages in the light of local environmental and social knowledge. Personal experience was more often reported as a reason for risk reduction than formal prevention advice. Risks for injury were not isolated from other risks faced. Conclusions—Effective educational interventions aimed at changing children's risk behaviour should build more on children's own competence and knowledge of their local environment, and stress the need to manage risks rather than avoid dangers.