Do you ever let your kid ride a bike to a friend’s house?
Do you ever let your kid ride a bike to a friend’s house? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If you are, then in America at least you would be regarded as a freak. When Leonore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote a column called: “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Take The Subway Alone” in mid-2008, she figured she would get a few e-mails pro and con. Two days later, she and her son appeared on the Today Show, MSNBC, FoxNews and all manner of talk radio, and under her smiling face was the title: “America’s Worst Mom?”
For many parents, the mere fact that Skenazy had let her son out of her sight turned her into a terrible person. The common perception is that the world has become much more dangerous in just one generation. But according to the evidence from the think tank STATS.org, which examines the way the media use statistics, the number of kids abducted and killed by strangers actually holds very steadily over the years – about 50. That is tragic – but 40 times that number of kids are killed every year in car accidents.
Free range kids
Based on these extreme reactions, Skenazy started a Free-Range Kids website as a haven for people who wanted to give their kids more freedom. This, in turn, generated a book, “Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry”. Most of us, says Skenazy, grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. Drawing on facts, statistics, and humour, Skenazy claims that our era is one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world. It’s time, she says, to retire the national pastime of worrying. Childhood is supposed to be about discovering the world, not being held captive. Yes to helmets, car seats, and safety belts. No to requiring a security escort every time school age children go outside. Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring. In a world where the rights of chickens to roam freely are championed, it’s time – says Skenazy – to liberate the kids.
Liberate the kids
In a world where the rights of chickens to roam freely are championed, it’s time – says Skenazy – to liberate the kids.