“16 is the Appropriate Age to Allow Children to Be Outside by Themselves” — New Albany, Ohio, Police Chief


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The New Albany, OH, chief of police is advising parents not to let their kids go outside on their own until they are 16.

According to this piece on News10:

New Albany’s police chief wants parents to understand that kids younger than 16 simply cannot defend themselves against an attacker.

Chief Greg Jones says 16 is the appropriate age to allow children to be outside by themselves. “I think that’s the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom,” he says.

Not a lot of freedom, mind you. Just a “little bit.” His stay-close-to-mommy rationale?

While the ultimate decision comes down to parents and personal preference, he says no matter how mature a child may seem, it’s what happens after a child is abducted that is the greatest concern.

Not if, but WHEN a child is abducted. That’s how he’s thinking of childhood: You go outside, you get abducted and then you have to deal.

So let’s take a little look at New Albany’c crime record. Here it is. Last month the town of 8,829 logged, hmmm, let me get out my calculator…one plus one…TWO counts of criminal activity. One case of burglary/breaking and entering,  and one “other.”

Unless that “other” was “crimes against humanity,” I’m not sure just how many kids are being abducted right and left by strangers. But the Chief insists: “What if you were to allow them to take off at 7 or 8 and you don’t hear from them for a while, where would you begin? What would you do? How would you even know what happened to them?”

This is just a classic an example of worst-first thinking: You think of the worst-case scenario FIRST, no matter how far-fetched, and proceed as if it’s likely to happen. (And by the way, not even to a teen. To a 7-year-old.)

The article goes on to describe the over-subscribed SafetyTown lessons the police are giving kids, and quotes moms who are eager to instill stranger danger in their kids (even though more than 90% of crimes against children are committed by people they know):

“We’ve never really had the talk with him about what to do to be cautious with other people that he doesn’t know,” says Shannon Jap, who enrolled her son Oliver, who is 5-years-old. “My son loves to say hi to everybody and he just goes up to people when we’re in restaurants and we just want to make sure that he knows to be careful when he’s talking to people,” she adds.

Chief Jones says that’s the ultimate goal of safety town is to teach children than bad people can seem nice too.

“Strangers aren’t always mean,” says the Chief.

And nice people, like police chiefs, aren’t always sane.

Here’s how New Albany’s website describes the town:

[A] vibrant, pedestrian-friendly community with an unparalleled commitment to education, wellness, culture and leisure that inspires and enriches families and businesses alike.

I’m not sure that wellness and leisure correspond to keeping kids indoors, frightened, unfriendly and infantilized. I’m not even sure that anyone in a town that terrified would ever be a pedestrian. But boy are they safe…

From the boogeyman. – L

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Rapunzel! I've found the perfect town for you!

Hey Rapunzel! I’ve found the perfect town for you!

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81 Responses to “16 is the Appropriate Age to Allow Children to Be Outside by Themselves” — New Albany, Ohio, Police Chief

  1. LGB June 17, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    “New Albany’s police chief wants parents to understand that kids younger than 16 simply cannot defend themselves against an attacker.”

    Oh good heavens. I’m 40 and I don’t know that *I* could defend myself from an attacker. My fourth grader, on the other hand, excels in karate, so . . . . . .

  2. AntiMouse June 17, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    A properly trained kid can become really good at eg judo. They are below an adults center of gravity.

    Also, my 3 year old knows to punch me in the nuts, this is something I need to be aware of in dealing with him when he is angry with me or else I’ll be rolling on the floor.

  3. SKL June 17, 2016 at 11:11 am #

    I was gonna say, what about people over 16 who aren’t self-defense experts? At 49 I think I am less able to fight an attacker than many teens under 16. I guess I shouldn’t ever go outside either.

  4. m June 17, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    Because nothing bad ever happens to people once they reach the age of 16.

    *eyeroll*

  5. Workshop June 17, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    This sort of stuff makes me want to pound my head against a wall.

    On a related note (worst case thinking) . . .
    I picked my son up from his karate camp yesterday. He played with the iPad in the car on the drive home, and once we got home he wanted to stay in the car. So I turned the car off, took my stuff in, and left him.

    My wife informed me that he is never allowed to stay in the car by himself without the door or window opened. Because apparently at 6 he is incapable of opening the door himself.

    I’ve been pounding my head against a wall a lot recently . . . .

  6. Cerellia June 17, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    “What if you were to allow them to take off at 7 or 8 and you don’t hear from them for a while, where would you begin? What would you do? How would you even know what happened to them?”

    OK, this happened to me a couple of time with a child much younger than 7 or 8.

    What would you do?
    1) The child might just be somewhere else but still within his bounderies – go and check.
    2) The child might be hiding – go to the typical hiding places and bait him out.
    3) The child might be in someone’s house or garden (in which case he should have asked) – call at his friend’s houses and remind him later of the rule.
    4) The child might have gone outside the bounderies – search the area, get angry and when at last found cut the privilage for a while (happened once).

    And the first time it happens, you may even panick a bit, that’s normal, too.

  7. Beth Holmes June 17, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    This is insane. I live in a community of 18,000 — safe, suburban — like this one. Our schools actively encourage the kids 3rd grade and up to bike and walk to school. In Middle School and High School if you live under 2 miles away you don’t have bus service and you have to walk or bike. Every morning I see lots of kids biking and walking to school alone. Thank God we have a sane police chief and a sane school department.

  8. MichelleB June 17, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    So they’re old enough to be outside alone on the same day they’re old enough to apply for a driver’s license?

  9. TJG June 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    I wonder if the Chief knows that the age of consent in OH is 16? Of course, that 16 year old would presumably be inside and not alone . . . so I guess they’re safe in his book.

  10. Christopher Byrne June 17, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Well, Ohio is a dark and scary place. And it’s not just that every home harbors a felonious pedophile. There are also ogres and giants. And the New Albany mall is reportedly haunted by banshees. So, given all of this, I think this is probably appropriate guidance. I hear they’re also issuing bonds to build a moat.

    Sheesh. I was driving at 16.

  11. Cerellia June 17, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    “we just want to make sure that he knows to be careful when he’s talking to people,”

    Why is talking to strangers – especially in a public place -dangerous?

  12. fred schueler June 17, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    “Ohio is a dark and scary place” – and most of the danger is from firearms, which are an age-independent hazard which produce STRAY BULLETS. Everybody had better stay in the basement (until there’s a flood)

  13. Laura W June 17, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    I have this picture in my head of a 16 year old finally being released out the front door, and allowed to walk to the park on her own. Can’t they learn to drive when they are that old? My mind is exploding right now with the shear stupidity of that statement. How does our society destroy itself? Cripple our children by putting them in swaddling clothes until they are old enough to have children of their own.

  14. Donna June 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    In Ohio, you can get a probationary driver’s license at age 16 (same as a regular license but with some limits on times and number of passengers). So according to this guy, the maturity needed to be outside by yourself is equal to the maturity needed to drive a car by yourself. And we should be giving licenses to people who have never so much as walked down the block by themselves.

  15. Mandy June 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    The police chief needs to be fired!

  16. Dean June 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    “And nice people, like police chiefs, are not always sane.” How true!
    Where I live, people have not been falsely traumatized by police chiefs and child welfare scaremongers. Small children are encouraged to wave “hello” to people, and from kindergarten age up generally run store errands and >gasp!< play outside, instead of underfoot indoors.
    Where my godson lives in California, the "experts" seem to think it is okay for junior high kids to walk a couple of blocks between home and school without a parent, but younger kids are in terrible danger if they walk a half-block along a shady residential street line with homes of their classmates, and crossing guards. school personnel and police are present to enforce the presence of "necessary" adults from each family.

  17. Lyndsay June 17, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    So…when my not-quite-four year old plays in the backyard by herself, that’s bad?

  18. BL June 17, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    As someone who lived in a small Ohio town for much of my youth, I think this chief is chiefly full of it.

    I was outside by myself from the age of 8, from the very first day we lived there (I had to learn my way around town myself. I don’t think my parents ever learned it all as well as I did).

    I was going by myself 6-7 blocks to buy comic books and bubble gum at least a year before that, but we lived in a suburb in Michigan then.

  19. J.T. Wenting June 17, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    “So they’re old enough to be outside alone on the same day they’re old enough to apply for a driver’s license?”

    Of course. Because how can they qualify for speeding tickets and other sources of police income if they’re not allowed to be outside and drive those cars?

    If the age you can get a drivers license were 18 like in most of the world, the police chief would have used that age no doubt.

  20. Donna June 17, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    And you can get your learner’s license at 15.5. So for 6 months of your life, you are mature enough to be in physical control of a motor vehicle, albeit with mom or dad in the passenger seat, but not mature enough to walk to school.

  21. Jocelyne June 17, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    “If you don’t know where they are, how will you find them?!”

    1. If they are playing with friends in their neighbourhood, why on earth would I want to find them?!

    2. If they go into someone’s house, they need to call in and tell me where they are.

    3. I go out on the porch and holler in time honoured tradition.

    I live in a much larger city than New Albany and my kids are 12 and 9. I can’t imagine not giving them free run of at least the city blocks around us.

  22. James Pollock June 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    When you spend your day, all day, dealing with criminals, after a while it starts to seem like everybody’s a criminal.

    This is one of the hazards of police work that doesn’t get mentioned a lot.

    I wonder if the city attorney has had a talk with him yet?

  23. Ross June 17, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    I read the article as leave the house at 7 or 8 am and you don’t see them…. not age…. and yes my children leave the house to walk to school about that time and I don’t hear from them for 8 hours or so…. I guess I should stop letting them go to school lol

  24. James Pollock June 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    “And you can get your learner’s license at 15.5”

    15 here, and farm kids start driving by 13 or 14.

  25. Beth June 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    I wish the original article allowed comments; I’d love to see what the residents of this community think.

  26. Liz June 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    I have a student who was already 6′ tall when he was 12 (both of his parents are HUGE so him and his brothers are all going to be very, very tall). Pretty sure he could defend himself from ANYONE.

  27. Backroads June 17, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    What’s the crunch-time plan for those 2 years before the magical responsible adult age of 18? Is there a recommended two-year training program?

  28. James Pollock June 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    “I have a student who was already 6′ tall when he was 12 (both of his parents are HUGE so him and his brothers are all going to be very, very tall). Pretty sure he could defend himself from ANYONE.”

    Meh. You either don’t watch enough television, or too much.

    Walk up to the huge young man, show a gun, ask him if he’d like to do as you say. Too risky? They young many might start a physical struggle, take away the gun, and emerge victorious? Point out a loved one and a person who can shoot THAT person, and asking if he’d like to do as you say.

    Physical size doesn’t determine who can defend themself, or others, if the other side can obtain tactical surprise, can pick and choose which weapons to use, and can choose the location of the battle.

  29. Andrea June 17, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    @Beth — I hope they are outraged by this. Sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t.

    If I was a parent in New Albany it would tick me off that I found a safe community for my kids to grow up in (emphasis on GROW”) but that the police chief considers me a criminal if I let my 13 year old outside alone in said safe community.

  30. Reziac June 17, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    Nonsense. There are monsters under every bed and a pedo hiding in every closet. Clearly, kids are safer outdoors!

  31. Andrea June 17, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

    Excellent point, James, which shows why thinking there is an age at which one can defend oneself against an attacker is stupid.

  32. JJ June 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    So when he says “an attacker” he means an abductor? I get the wariness of attackers on the part of police and parents in some areas (probably not this Ohio town). Here were I live it is very common to be “jumped”, especially boys around age 12-13. Many of my son’s friends have been jumped, my own son was quasi-jumped (they stole his stuff without beating him up), so yeah it made me a little nervous about him encountering these “attackers” when he was younger. Many kids, like many adults, wouldn’t be able to defend themselves against many of the attackers, but then again why would you want to? If someone has a gun or knife or overpowers you in general just give them your headphones, phone, cash, whatever it is they want and come on home. Even this real risk is not a reason to lock your kid inside until 16. Police should be counseling parents about how to reduce risk of being jumped (#1, keep your phone and beats hidden). Fear of an “abducter-type attacker” is just made up. You might as well be afraid of a Zombie Apocalypse.

  33. Warren June 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    This moron better not be in an elected position, because he just handed his next opponent some huge ammunition.

    My opinion, he either couldn’t get a curfew imposed or is setting the stage to try and impose one.

    So it would be safe to assume that this goofball doesn’t want babysitters under the age of 16.

  34. LauraL June 17, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    Here is the news station’s Facebook page, though I didn’t locate this particular story on it.

    https://www.facebook.com/WBNS10TV

  35. Dee June 17, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    I don’t even get that piece. The actual news clip had nothing to do with strangers or when you can be outside on your own. It was teachings kids what to do at a roundabout/rotary. Why teach them that if they will always have a parent there???

  36. Theresa June 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    Last I checked most 16 year olds don’t want to be watched by mommy and daddy. And he thinks this is a good idea?!

  37. Tony June 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    If Chief Jones thinks the town is that dangerous under his watch he should be embarrassed, admit failure and resign.

  38. Stacey Gordon June 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    Everyone in that Orlando club was over 16.

  39. Debby June 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    I live 10 minutes from New Albany. New Albany is bought, paid for, and run almost entirely by the founder of Limited Brands (The Limited, Victoria’s Secret, The Body Shop, White Barn Candle, etc). It’s his little SimCity, and if filled mostly with mini (or mega) mansions that are built to look like either farm houses or something out of Georgian England. The high school complex (which takes up several blocks) looks like an Ivy League college campus.
    Of all the little Columbus suburbs around here, it’s the ONE place I would point to and say “not a danger. Go out and play, kids”.

  40. Havva June 17, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    Sadly this isn’t the first time I have heard 16 as the “appropriate” age. Just heard it at a swimming pool last week. My reaction is always first, last, and foremost:
    “That is the same as the driving age! Are you seriously proposing to give the child their very first experience of being responsible for themselves, behind the wheel of the leading cause of death?”

    Ohio’s state sponsored brochure on if your kid is ready to stay home alone asks questions such as “Can your child perform tasks such as … Opening a can or jar?” “Can your child … Read a written note or instructions that you have left?” and other highly reasonable things. –http://www.actionforchildren.org/up_doc/Action_for_Chidren_When_Child_can_Stay_Home_Alone.pdf
    Interestingly this brochure points out on brochure page 5, PDF page 3 that “In fact, the number of children who list “being afraid” as their first complaint has risen dramatically since 1991 … ”

    Getting back to the primary point. While fighting the boogie man, the police chief is ignoring a leading danger in the lives of children, and all citizens. And you can see it in the police reports: http://www.newalbanyohio.org/police-department/police-reports
    Under Chief Greg Jones’s watch the fall in traffic citations started under his predecessor has continued unabated. But where as his predecessor increased traffic warnings, and managed to hold traffic accidents about steady, Chief Jones has virtually eliminated the warning system (from around 2,000/year down to about 200/year) with a simultaneous increase in the number of traffic accidents in the city of New Albany, OH. Once bound between 135 & 189 per year, and averaging about 166, the number of accidents has proceeded to set new record highs every year of Jones’s tenure. In 2013 it was 193, in 2014 it was 221, in 2015 it was 262. 2016 is on track to be another record setter.

    And despite the fact that injuries and fatalities from car accidents have been falling dramatically nation wide, in New Albany, OH it is going the other way!
    Between 2002 and 2013 the city of New Albany, OH had only two years with more than 30 injury accidents. But so far every year of Chief Jones’s tenure has exceeded that number. By the close of May this year, they already had 29! This year, he may actually achieve a doubling in the number of injury accidents.

    This is what happens when our society become so worried about the rare risks, that we take our eyes off the every day dangers. People get maimed, and people die. It doesn’t make the news, it isn’t as shocking, but it is very very real, and the victims, their families, and their friends suffer too. This is the price we are paying when we appoint people with no ability to rationally evaluate, and cope with, risk.

  41. Sheri June 17, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    Really? Really?!
    This winter we took our two eight year old granddaughters to the scary world’s of Mexico and Central America. We spent three months traveling by bus, not to mention speed boat, tramp steamer, and single prop plane! They were encouraged to speak to strangers, purchase items in the market, and play with local kids. One of them was a little scared of the tremors set off by the local volcano in Guatemala so Granddad took them on a hike up it. Are we bad grandparents? We want them to know that most people are good. They know not to go off with a stranger, but not interact, how sad!

  42. John June 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    Oh my goodness is this ever nuts. Has this guy received any push-back from this?

  43. John June 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    Quote:

    “This moron better not be in an elected position, because he just handed his next opponent some huge ammunition”

    @Warren:

    I tell ya Warren, if I were a resident of New Albany, Ohio, I would ravenously be campaigning against him!

  44. Mallory Stevens June 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    According to my 14 yo daughter (who has been going outside on her own for many years and riding her bike to school since she was 9), this assumption of abduction reflects very poorly on the work he is doing as a chief of police. If children are getting abducted right and left, he needs to be policing better!

  45. Buffy June 17, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Off topic, but in reading the comments I have to ask….is it common for Chief of Police to be elected? In our area, the sheriff is an elected position (don’t know why) but chiefs of all the cities/towns/villages are hired by the Police/Fire Commission or equivalent, after an exhaustive search, screening, and interview process.

  46. SKL June 17, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Honestly, this sounds so crazy, it makes me wonder whether the guy was misquoted. Which happens frequently in journalism – in fact, pretty much always.

    If my kid was gone for “a while,” where would I start? Well, I would start with where they told me they were going to be. I’d go there and look and call their names if necessary. Or text the parent at the home they said they were going to visit. So far that has always worked, except for one time when I was paged because my kid had the sense (around age 3) to go tell a store clerk to page me.

    My kids aren’t super adventurous, but my 5 siblings and I were, and yes, my parents had some times when they didn’t know where we were. Maybe they panicked a couple times, I don’t know. We always managed to be found before long. Either we went to a favorite haunt or were with a kid whose parent eventually thought, hmm, do their parents know they are here? Or the one time my oldest brother, at age 5, was found walking to Grandma’s house. He had a patch on his glasses made out of my dad’s business card, so the person who found him called my folks’ shop and all was well.

    The only time really “bad” things happened to us, they were done by “trusted” people when we were in places we were supposed to be.

    Based on my experience, I encourage my kids to go out on their own, but I tell them to avoid certain behaviors that could lead to problems. For example, drinking alcohol, which is associated with so many crimes against girls and young women. But funny thing, I’m not supposed to say that, because it isn’t PC. The thing that can really reduce their risk is recast as “victim shaming” so we need to keep mum on that. Well screw that.

  47. Laurie June 17, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

    Yeah…somehow, I can’t take this as a serious, legitimate quote from an actual police chief. Surely he must either be joking around to get a bit of a rise from the public, or he has a serious mental illness and is seriously delusional and paranoid, like maybe he’s been looking too much into what’s on the “deep web”. Or maybe all the kids in New Albany are just extremely incompetent and helpless (although I highly doubt it, at least from being around teenagers younger than 16. My nephew was 150 pounds and pushing 6’0 at 13 years old.) According to this, he’d have a heart attack if he discovered the things I was getting into at 15. Also, it’s probably a good thing he’s not a lawmaker, or people would still be considered children into their thirties.

  48. Powers June 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm #

    Sixteen? Right, because you want the first time a kid ventures out on his own to be when you give her the keys to the car.

  49. Anna June 17, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    The funny thing is, this assumes adults are by definition able to defend themselves against an attack or attempted abduction. I’m sure I could fight off some attackers, but a really experienced, determined, strong thug – most likely not. But the fact is, we don’t go around assuming we’ll be assaulted in our daily lives. Why should our kids?

    Also, the insanity of considering someone fit to drive around in a lethal weapon – er, I mean motorized vehicle – at the same instant they’re first considered capable of walking down the street alone – it truly blows the mind!

  50. Paul Strauss June 17, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Let the kids play. Let the “strangers” hide inside in fear. That’s my philosophy. And I do subtly get the word out. My favorite is every Thursday is gun cleaning day. In the driveway. 😉

  51. Karen June 17, 2016 at 4:49 pm #

    This man needs to do something else with his life. He’s been looking at awful stuff too long. He’s lost perspective.

  52. Anonymous June 17, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    Does he realize that the New Albany school district canceled buses for anyone living within 1 mile of the school? I regularly see 2nd graders walking to school in the morning and the afternoon. Oh the humanity.

  53. Coasterfeak June 17, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    Well he’s wrong about 16 being old enough to defend themselves against an attacker! A while back here in Austin, TX, we had a news story advertised during every commercial break for several days about a girl who was “victimized” (molested) by someone she knew when she was “too young to defend herself.” Curiosity piqued, I tuned in to the news the night the story was to air and discovered that this incident happened when the girl was 17. That’s SEVENTEEN — the age she was when she was “too young to defend herself.”

    Lord have mercy, we are creating adult babies.

    So his insinuation that 16 is old enough is irresponsible at best, and dangerous at worst. He should be investigated for child endangerment for his recommendation!

  54. bmommyx2 June 17, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

    If his criteria is based on ability to fend off an attacker no one should be able to go outside without an armed bodyguard. I don’t think my mom could fend off an attacker or many other people out there.

  55. WendyW June 17, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

    <>

    Buffy, the Sheriff is elected because he is answerable to no one except the people. This is supposed to give the people a segment of law enforcement that will protect them against unconstitutional acts ordered by tyrannical leaders who are using city, state, or federal forces for their own ends.

  56. Mark Twain June 17, 2016 at 8:30 pm #

    When a boy turns 13, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hole.
    When he turns 16, plug up the hole.
    – Mark Twain

  57. The Other Mandy June 17, 2016 at 11:45 pm #

    I guess I’m a bad parent, then. Last weekend we were at the lake (state park, very young-kid-friendly beach area with lifeguards and tons of families), and our nearly-4 yo wandered off, an “I thought he was with YOU” moment. I started looking and within 30 seconds was paged to the main lifeguard stand. I was so proud to hear both my and my husband’s full names over the loudspeaker. We hadn’t even drilled our son on what to do if he got lost, but he asked another kid’s dad for help. Nobody gave us trouble, in fact the other dad was a bit apologetic for having us paged but (rightly) figured it was the most efficient way to go. I congratulated my boy on his good thinking. If he’d been frightened of strangers, it might have been hours rather than minutes before we were reunited.

  58. Suzanne Lucas June 18, 2016 at 2:57 am #

    As others have said, I don’t think I’d be good at defending myself. I’m 43 and overweight, though, so I guess I could sit on an attacker and sing show tunes to him while we waited for the police.

    I’m glad I live in sane world–Switzerland. Where kids play outside without parents, take the tram and bus by themselves, and can be given money and sent to the corner store when I forget to have enough milk. Although, to be honest, they whine A LOT about the last thing. I’d probably be less overweight if I went myself, but then I lose my only ability to fight back against the ubiquitous attackers. Dilemmas.

  59. sexhysteria June 18, 2016 at 4:43 am #

    After all, police chiefs and other government employees need to educate dumb citizens.

  60. SKL June 18, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    Well I forgot to mention the obvious – that normally, if your school-aged kids aren’t where you expected, wait a while and they will almost certainly come home on their own by bedtime. That’s how it always worked when I was a kid. Only one teen didn’t come home and that’s because she ran away.

    But – can we do that any more? Can we give our kids time to get done with their frolic / ask for directions and come home? Or will we be arrested for not panicking within a set amount of time after we knew the whereabouts of our kid?

    My brother at age 7 never came home from school. He would wander all around town, visiting friends or just hanging out until as late as 10pm. We never knew where he was. But, he showed up home every night, all in one piece. Hunger will do that to a kid.

    When I was maybe 10yo, I got angry at my mom and decided to run away. I told myself that I needed to actually get lost so that I couldn’t change my mind and go home. I kept taking turns away from whatever I recognized to try to get lost. Well dangit, I came out at a shopping plaza that I was familiar with. I knew the way home from there. Worse, it was getting late and my butt was going to be grass if I didn’t get home fast. So I returned, fully alive and unscathed. (And my mom had company, so she didn’t even notice I was late getting home.)

  61. ChrisG. June 18, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    My daughter & I had some shopping to do at Walmart. She is 11. She took a cart & her grandmothers list & took off. I said I would catch up later. When I was done, I looked for her in the toy dept, the bikes ( she wants a new one) and finally found her in the book dept., reading. Her shopping was all done, she got the right items & she felt so grown up. And I got shopping done peacefully!

  62. Bill F June 18, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    Summary: Rich BFE
    New Albany is an exburb of of Columbus that was developed in large part by Les Wexner Creator of “The Limited/ Victoria Secret” etc. Mr. Wexner’s ~60,000 sq ft home as well as the developments that surround it were built about 25 years ago and incorporate white wooden horse fences as a defining characteristic. The once rural area is now encompasses some of the most upscale areas in the Columbus metropolitan area. Old New Albany proper is generously about 2 blocks square. It is decidedly car dependent and suburban in character. Crime is basically burglary ( nice houses) and drunk driving (It’s kind of out there).

  63. Juluho June 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    At 5’4 I doubt I could fend off an attacker… Maybe I should hire a body guard for when I garden? I don’t know, I don’t know!! What if there are people outside?!

    Jeeeeeeezzzz. 16?

  64. hineata June 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm #

    OT but related to this ‘under 16’ thing….we recently went paddle boarding as a family in Wellington Harbour, and there was a lovely big sign stating that under-16s needed to be supervised at all times. Oh no….my ‘baby’ – 15- would still need close supervision! Interestingly, the staff who kitted us out with the boards didn’t mention supervision…..they probably knew what was coming ☺.

    Of course, it was Mum who needed supervising (and Dad who bailed early!). Mum who fell in and needed all 3 of her ‘babies’ to drag her back on the board. Actually I was ready to just swim back in to one of the ladders back on the wharf (am a much better swimmer than board-balancer ☺), but my teens saw that as ‘defeatist’….brats!

    Let’s not let parents out alone….at least in the water. Did I mention shipping lanes?

  65. James Pollock June 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

    “If his criteria is based on ability to fend off an attacker no one should be able to go outside without an armed bodyguard”

    But… what if the bodyguard turns on you? You’ll need another bodyguard to protect you from the first bodyguard.

  66. SKL June 18, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    Just wondering what LeBron James looked like when he was 15, and how often he was abducted, tortured, and left for dead ….

    Completely unrelated to anything, of course….

    But seriously, almost all boys and half of the girls I know have towered over their mom before they were 16.

  67. Kristen Yates June 19, 2016 at 12:26 am #

    So a person is supposed to learn in two years (between 16th and 18th birthdays) how to function as an independent adult? To go from not being allowed to cross the street without supervision to being eligible for juries, military service, binding contracts, etc?

    I could say even more about driver’s licenses, which are normally granted at age 16. The very first time I let my child outside unaccompanied, it should be behind the wheel of a car?

    That’s insane. I want my child to have many years of practice navigating the world unaccompanied before they leave for college.

    I suggest 6, instead, although that’s a general rule, not a hard limit.

  68. Earth.W June 19, 2016 at 3:10 am #

    There’s nothing like being scared of every pebble.

  69. Chris Mallory June 19, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    So nice to see the New Albany PD is allowing a special needs adult to pretend to be a police chief. But is letting him make public pronouncements really a good idea?

  70. pentamom June 19, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    I’ll tell you right now I couldn’t fend off an attacker. That’s one reason I depend on the police and courts to maintain a safe society — not to patrol the streets and catch every bad guy before he gets to me, but to help create a society where the bad guys are more under control than in, say, Somalia. That won’t absolutely prevent me from being attacked and harmed, but it reduces my risk, which is what it’s all about. This guy’s standard is wrong.

    I’m wondering if this statement is on the up and up, or is sarcastic, or if something else is going on here.

    Or else the guy is just an idiot.

  71. pentamom June 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm #

    hineata — I can so relate. We went on an overnight canoe trip just this weekend (first time in my life doing more than paddling around a small lake), and I was definitely the one who had to keep reassuring myself that between Dad, the kids (15-23), the guide, and the other experienced trekkers, I’d be pulled to safety should anything bad happen.

    Nothing did, though.

  72. Donald June 19, 2016 at 6:28 pm #

    This hyper safety stuff isn’t limited to kids. This story seems off topic at first but you will see at the end how insulting it can get for adults to be treated this way as well. It happens because people can become so focused on worst first thinking that logic and rational thinking is completely disregarded.

    I design human sundials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoW-Kl_kaxw

    I have also painted a temporary one on grass by using spray paint. It will last until the lawn is mowed. I do this for demonstration purposes. I have also drawn a sundial using colored chalk. However sometimes this is considered as too dangerous and I’m required to have 10 million in liability insurance before I’m allowed. Sometimes this isn’t even enough as supervisors are *too afraid (sort of) to grant approval.

    What if I get spray paint in my eyes? What if I get sick from the fumes? What if I step on a piece of chalk and trip? Also we can’t encourage children outside because they may get skin cancer! I’M NOT KIDDING! THIS WAS A REAL ARGUMENT!

    http://content.screencast.com/users/dchristensen777/folders/grass%20sundial/media/77550198-b3af-4233-bc1a-5a4ae24d5d86/painted%20and%20cropped.jpg

    http://content.screencast.com/users/dchristensen777/folders/sundials%20for%20learning/media/7770fae5-556b-4a52-a091-48a0e394092c/chalk%20dial%20roma%20st%202.jpg

    *They are not afraid. However for decades they have been taught to always follow procedures. Unless they do, they are taking a huge risk. However if they see something new, there are not established approval/procedures. Therefore you should reject it. This becomes so automatic that they reject anything new without even thinking. It becomes a habit like nail biting.

  73. lollipoplover June 19, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

    @hineata- I am laughing so hard at your story. My manly man husband (who is an accomplished athlete and has run 100 mile ultrathons) cannot paddleboard to save his life. We watched and died laughing as he fell off and couldn’t get back up, and then got help (from the kids) and proceeded to fall off again. Thank heavens for helpful children because I wasn’t getting off my board!

    As for this ageism nonsense, I am glad this is not my town. My oldest just turned 15 and he wouldn’t have been able to start 4 businesses or become a volunteer firefighter or a lifeguard. He’s not 16 yet but has trained to actually save lives, not exist like his own is forever in jeopardy. At 6’3, it doesn’t even cross my mind that he will be abducted.

    You know what worries me with all of this unfounded paranoia over abduction? We lose sight of real risks to our kids: their mental health. Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
    Why do so many young people, in the prime of their lives, not have anything to live for? Maybe they haven’t been allowed to experience what this world has to offer or find their passions because parents and chiefs of police don’t think their safe outside of their parent’s watchful grasp. How depressing.

  74. DMK June 20, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    Of course it does make it easier for the police to do their job if no one is comes outside. Maybe that was his goal all along.

    I think removal of the the police chief in New Albany would be the first thing on my agenda. Before he gets it into his head that everyone in the town is out to get him.

  75. C. S. P. Schofield June 20, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    Mandy;

    Forget fired. This man needs to be medicated.

  76. Papilio June 20, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    Ha, that reminds me of a 12-year-old boy I once knew. His last name was actually, translated, “the Giant”, which went perfectly with his height of around 6 foot 3…

  77. Mr. Ed June 20, 2016 at 4:04 pm #

    Keep in mind folks, that fear is far, far more persuasive than reasonable caution. Law enforcement officials and others in positions of authority love to scare people into submission. This brings to mind a classic comment from none other than erstwhile VP, Dick “Dick” Cheney who, while commenting on why he and W blew up Iraq, said that he was adopting the “One Percent Doctrine”: If there is a 1% chance of another terrorist attack, we treat it as a certainty”. There you have it, folks. Coming from the very top, down. Everyone needs to be terrified of everything all the time and look to someone else to protect us from the tsunami of boogie-men waiting to abduct our kids, rape our buffalo and otherwise destroy our safe, peaceful lives. America: Land of the Free, Home of the Craven.

  78. Where are my rights? June 20, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    I’ve also heard from man others, including ohions themselves, that ohio is the state of despair. The most boring state. See a relation?

  79. Me June 20, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

    So a kid turns 16 and hits several major milestones.

    First, they’re allowed to walk to the store or play in the park without adult supervision.

    Second, they get their learner’s permit and start driving a two ton vehicle around at 60 km/hr on public roads.

    Third, in many states, they reach the age of consent, and can legally have sex with adults.

    Which one of these doesn’t match the others?

    This, I think, is one of the biggest practical dangers of hyper-protectiveness of children and adolescents. They never get to practice risk and responsibility on low-stakes issues. Then, suddenly, over-protected childhood hits up against legal adulthood, and they are expected to gauge risks and make sensible decisions with no experience.

  80. hineata June 21, 2016 at 3:14 am #

    @Pentamom and Lollipop – glad to give you a laugh ☺. But on a slightly more serious note, it got me thinking about going bush etc. If one of the family fell over and injured themselves while we’re out in the bush, it would be the teens I would expect to walk out and get help ( provided they weren’t the injured party). They’re fitter and faster than us oldies. And obviously they have basic bushcraft.

    What’s the point of having teens if you can’t make use of some of their superior qualities (fitness, speed) when necessary? ☺. And you can’t do so if you baby them….

  81. Bob English June 21, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

    I hope that worst-first police chief never encounters a kid carrying a toy gun.