I don't know how many kids whittle. I don't know how many kids are allowed to carry and handle knives. Are yours? Gavin & Mikey as well as their friend who were whittling here the other day are all Cub/Boy Scouts. In order to carry/use their knives they were taught how to handle a knife and some basic guidelines. They know that the improper use of a knife would results in losing that privilege. That is *really* something these boys do not want to lose.
Worried about your kids playing too many video games? Give them knives - they'll go find much more interesting things to do. You have to get outside to whittle, it could turn into a fabulous hobby, and it's a useful skill - how can you go wrong?
Dangerous? It is, but with proper training and some simple guidelines you can trust that nothing more than a little blood will be the worst of it.