These tips from HealthyChildren.org for when a child can go to a public restroom are not just hilarious and ridiculous, they are also insane, starting with this one:
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children feels that children of any age should not be permitted to use public restrooms alone.
Any age? Why? Simply to keep Americans so scared of stranger danger that they keep supporting the Center? The website goes on to gift us with:
My Public Restroom Survival Guide
- Never send a child into a public restroom alone. Ask for assistance from a security guard or employee of the establishment, if needed. Don’t accept help from well-meaning strangers who offer it, often as they walk out of the restroom.
- Instruct your child to use a private bathroom stall rather than a urinal. Also, instruct them never to talk to a stranger in a bathroom. If some stranger talks to them, they should know to respond that they are not allowed to talk to strangers in bathrooms.
- Avoid restrooms with more than one entrance. You might need to go to a different area to find a smaller restroom with only one entrance. Then, try to make eye contact with anyone who enters the restroom while your child is inside.
- Stand in the door and talk to your child throughout their time in the bathroom. Call out things like, “Is anyone else in the bathroom?” “Remember, we don’t talk to strangers in bathrooms.” “Do you need help?” “Did you wash your hands?” “Can you reach the soap?”
Don’t be afraid that you might embarrass your child by talking to them at the doorway. At very least, your child won’t forget to wash their hands.
All of this is based on….what? Anything?
When I interviewed Amy Baxter, a pediatrician who did her fellowship in child sexual abuse, she estimated she’d seen seen about 500 victims, which is very sad. But how many of them were violated in a public restroom? “None,” she says. Dr. Baxter queried two close colleagues and found that one of them had indeed seen a single instance of this crime. Terrible. Another — a leader in the field — had not. Ever.
So it’s not that bathrooms are 100% safe. Nothing is. But since most child sex abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, the worst-case restroom scenario is rare indeed. And yet we are being urged to protect our kids from it like never before.
What’s more: While we’re desperately trying to make a very unlikely event very unlikely, we are doing something else that actually is harmful. We’re teaching our children that they are in constant danger.
What else is new?