Readers — After we questioned the wisdom of a TV talk show psychologist who told Boston viewers to only let kids out in “short spurts” and then only once they reach age 11, the aggrieved psychologist posted a link to this blog, which I hadn’t seen before. I’ll give you just a taste:
Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids book and website spawned the fad of letting kids roam around on their own with little, if any, parental oversight. It’s stunning that this even needs to be said, but here’s just a little glimpse of what can happen to kids without adult supervision:
A 3-year-old boy in Philadelphia died after becoming entangled in a bush in the family’s backyard while playing alone. A branch somehow choked him and he wasn’t strong enough to push it away – and nobody was around to save him. But it didn’t make his mother question the freedom she still gives her other sons…
And even after her negligence cost her one child, she still blithely lets her other sons roam freely. That’s the parental mindset that gets kids killed.
A 4-year-old girl drowned in a backyard pool during a birthday party in Ohio. Dozens of party-goers had been distracted while singing Happy Birthday to a 1-year-old. She had been wearing a “float vest” earlier in the pool but – unsupervised – reentered the pool without the vest. Police said no one was inattentive or negligent.
Hmm… “no one was inattentive or negligent?” Really? The police opt for mercy on the parents in such tragedies and don’t charge them with child negligence/endangerment. The truth is that children can never be trusted alone.
It goes on and on — and on — making no distinction between actual negligence and Free-Ranging, and it was a great way to see all the ammo that must get used against us all the time. The “argument” here jumbles dangerous situations, freak accidents, natural disasters, crime, rationality, irrationality, caring parents and bona fide dangers into a bubbling stew of rage and fear, spiced with ad hominem attacks:
Do Free-Range Kids Taste Better?
The label of “free-range” for kids is a take-off on the free-range chickens and free-range cattle marketing terms. At first it seems to have a rousing and proudly independent ring to it – but ends up screeching when you consider the vast difference between raising animals and raising human children.
I’ll type this s-l-o-w-l-y for the slow learners: free-range wandering might be good for farm and ranch animals, but human children don’t graze in herds or peck feed off the ground to get fattened up for slaughter. Kids are in NO way anything like free-range animals.
Also, there are few, if any, perverted sex fiends prowling around farms and ranches hoping to kidnap, rape, and possibly kill animals. But there are countless thousands of perverted sex fiends prowling around our societies and hunting for vulnerable children.
I don’t think it makes sense to inundate this guy’s blog with comments. But it does make sense for us here to come up with empathic responses to all this fear, as well as to the hard fact that he’s right: Free-Range Kids cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. Of course, no human, idea or “parenting plan” can either. Life is just not completely controllable.
But as long as people can believe it is, they will blame and hate anyone who says we must soldier on despite the fact that we are never the total masters of our fates. Or our kids’ fates, even. – L