Hi Readers — As you know, I don’t jump on every study that comes along (in part because that would require an inordinate amount of jumping). But this one, out today, I found interesting: Cyberbullying Only Rarely the Sole Factor Identified in Teen Suicides.
You can figure out the topic from the title, obviously, but you may be wondering: How is this relevant to Free-Range Kids? The answer is not that we are here to endorse cyberbullying. (Surprise!) It’s that in the past year or two, the cyberbullying-suicide connection has achieved almost “stranger-danger” status: a very rare but very awful thing so focused on in the media and the schools that it starts to seem common. And if it really WERE common, of course it would warrant us worrying about our kids’ safety and sanity all the time, and instituting drastic safeguards.
When we react that way to unlikely dangers (not NON-EXISTENT dangers, just unlikely ones), we change childhood. We treat kids as if they were exceedingly vulnerable, and technology as if it were inherently evil. We assume the burden of constantly protecting our kids, rather than letting them, for the most part, work things out themselves. We fear that too much is on the line to give them any leash at all. We swoop in.
Swooping has become the order of the day when it comes to everything from making friends to choosing snacks to allowing our kids to get themselves to school. So when along comes official word that there is one big-time kid-safety issue that is actually LESS fraught than we’d been told, that’s reason to exhale.
Which is what I’m doing right now. Not saying, “Everything is perfect.” Just….exhaling. – L.
Maybe this isn’t the same as a loaded gun.