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The world is safer than you think
March 6, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The best way to raise kids who are scared of their own shadow and afraid to take any initiative is to convince them that there is a bogeyman around every corner.
That's the way far too many youngsters are being raised these days, judging from posts at the blog (www.freerangekids.com) One recent posting by the frustrated father of a 6-year-old girl described how his independent child was detained by police because she was walking alone,without supervision, a few blocks away to her local store. The girl knows her name, her parents' names and her phone number. She knows her small neighborhood and the town is safe.
Her parents have been letting her map out short expeditions by herself around the neighborhood, first with supervision and then without. The father knew where she was going and called the store to see whether she had arrived safely. It was then that the store manager informed him that his daughter was with the police.
A few months before that, little "Emily" was detained by police for crossing the street by herself. The father is expecting a visit from Child Protective Services. He writes that his community has no laws regarding the minimum age a child can be unsupervised and points out that in earlier generations it was common for 6-year-olds to play outside unsupervised.
Now it apparently warrants a call to CPS.
I don't know that I'd have been comfortable letting a 6-year-old walk to the store by herself, but I don't know that it qualifies as child neglect either. Believe it or not, child abuse and crime rates have declined dramatically in the past couple of decades. Little Emily is probably safer alone in her neighborhood than she would have been in the 1970s or 1980s.
The reason why we see kidnappers around every corner is probably our 24/7 media, which exhaustively covers every tragic event involving small children, particularly middle class white girls like Emily. The chances of a kid being kidnapped or harmed by a stranger are actually minuscule.
Free Range Kids had an earlier blog post about the responses of schools to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Some of the safety measures sound like they have been taken by hysterics and are not likely to be effective in the unlikely event that another such tragedy strikes. One school no longer permits parents to come into the building to pick up their children after school. Instead, teachers at the school must take the children out to their parents' cars, one by one, and check them out by hand.
Another school requires that parents have an escort in the school at all times. Several schools have implemented increased security, ironically exactly like the above average security system that was breached at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to make a school or the world perfectly safe. All that can be done is to prepare children to live in it, not to terrify them. I would encourage parents to take a look at freerangekids.com
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