Interview with Author/Blogger/Parent Cory Doctorow

Alas, readers, not my own interview with him. But Reason.TV caught up with Doctorow outside of some pub in London and asked him about many things, including his books (my older son LOVED “Little Brother”) and  boingboing (a site that brought early attention to this blog), and,  most saliently for us:  “The War on Kids.”

The problem, according to Doctorow? Fear. Fear OF kids and fear FOR kids. Of course that excessive fear FOR kids is  the kind I concentrate on. In fact, today I was at the supermarket and asked a mom why she had her son in one of those padded fabric shopping cart covers that have sprung up in the last few years. It’s to protect him, she said, from germs and also so he doesn’t bang his head too hard.

Were kids really banging their heads on shopping carts?

Hard?

Create a fear and you can sell its solution. It’s the American way, and it just keeps working.

Anyway: Enjoy Cory’s thoughts on kids today (and other stuff too, like technology). — Lenore [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLf3nldagXc]

55 Responses to Interview with Author/Blogger/Parent Cory Doctorow

  1. Waltz July 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    I love Cory Doctorow. My wife got to see him speak at a book signing recently and l was very impressed.

  2. Jenne July 20, 2010 at 11:58 pm #

    When my son was just beginning to sit up but too long for an infant carrier or one of those infant holders you get on some shopping carts, we propped him up with rolled baby blankets in the seat so he didn’t flop over and hit his head when he got tired. We couldn’t imagine actually *paying* for one of those covers, but if someone had given us one, we might have used it, especially when he was into mouthing everything. Who wants baby drool on the handle of their shopping cart?! Ew!

  3. Rich Wilson July 21, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    Couldn’t agree more the ‘war on kids’. Seems like we fear for them until they’re teens, then we fear them. I am stunned by some of the civil rights abuses I see of kids in school. If you’re under 18, you have minimal rights. Heck, I’ve met 13 year olds who could make a better informed vote than many adults. And that doesn’t mean vote I’d make, it means vote based on something other than lawn signs and sound bites.

  4. Rich Wilson July 21, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    We used one of those shopping cart covers a few times. Got it for nearly free at a yard sale or something. I think it probably makes the cart more comfy, and nothing WRONG with it, but you don’t NEED it. And it is a hassle to put on, towels or a shirt or something would work just as well and be a lot faster.

  5. Mika July 21, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    We used it _I confess I was worried about my kids getting sick – for lots of reasons…
    my doc said preemies that get a upper resp inf. in the first year have an 80% chance of developing asthma, so we were worried about that, but then sick kids became more of a worry for the expense and time off of work – our doc got dropped from our insurance last year and our insurance was so bad that we couldn’t find a doctor nearby that was on it, so we stayed with our pedi as cash-pay. We have since stopped using it, but sometimes there are other factors to why parents worry about kids getting sick.

  6. Eric July 21, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    lol. When me and my siblings were kids (6, 8 and 9), we just sat either at the bottom part of the cart (underneath the main basket), or the small basket just behind the push bar. No padding, no blankets, no roll bars, just as is. Not once did we bump our heads, caught our fingers in something, or fallen out. Kids aren’t porcelain dolls, they aren’t going to break that easily. Just another paranoia of some parents. THEIR own unsubstantiated paranoia.

    Not sure about Doctorow, but I personally think kids growing up in the 60s, 70s, and even 80s, had it far better than kids growing up today. Because we were allowed to live like kids should. The only plus side to growing up in this day and age, is the technology. I wish I had all the little gadgets kids have today back when I was growing up. lol

    And I think the interviewer is off when he says “kids are doing less drugs, having less sex”. I think there are more kids who are learning more at an early age. When I was growing up, the average age to start having sex was 16-17. Average these days is 13-14. Same with drugs. A lot of these kids are those insecure kids growing up. Looking for acceptance. But I do find that there are more kids, on the other spectrum. Confident about themselves. Confident enough to believe they can help make a difference, by volunteering, becoming more active in the community, taking steps to help causes.

    Like I’ve always said, for the most part, children are the products of their upbringing and environment. Teach them fear, and they will only know fear as the norm. Teach them to be self sufficient, with trust, it’s skies the limit of what they can accomplish.

  7. Parenting Old School July 21, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    Nice! Thanks for this Lenore.

    Believe it or not I have never heard of this guy but he sounds like my kinda guy although I am thinking we might not see eye to eye on web access for kids.

    The mosquito thing is interesting. Around here it is just bad musac being played but he does have a point about doing the same thing along racial lines.

  8. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    We’ve used a cover like that when our kids are infants that can’t hold themselves up to sit. The belts in arts and highchairs seem to always be too loose, letting babies flop around. For us, it’s not been so much of safety issue as a comfort and convenience issue.

  9. Silver Fang July 21, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    There’s definitely a war on kids and youth. Do you ever see carloads of teens cruising the strip anymore, or kids riding bikes around town? Nope!

  10. Jarrod July 21, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=11533731
    This is why everyone should use a shopping cart cover! Or better yet, don’t use a shopping cart at all!

    Or maybe it’s sensationalist news stories about all of the dangers your child faces from the evil world outside that got us to this point of maximum paranoia.

  11. Matt July 21, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    Haven’t watched Cory yet (plan to), but I have to say – we have – and paid for – one of those shopping cart things (which btw doubles for use on restaurant high chairs) that we got when our daughter was too little to consistently sit up in the shopping cart but wanted out of the carseat – it provided some nice padding and support so we didn’t have to constantly stabilize her. Now she doesn’t need the support, but it still is comfy and helps minimize the transfer of dirt and goo. It also helps contain a toy or two on a long shopping trip!

    And really… isn’t this getting a little nitpicky as far as fearing for kids? We let our daughter do a lot of stuff other parents won’t let their kids do – and quite honestly I’d never considered the shopping cart cover as a major “protection” purchase – just a convenience one.

  12. dahlia July 21, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    when my daughter was about six months old i started putting her in the little seat and strapping the belt firmly just under her arms, which kept her sitting up. she loved being out of the baby bucket and able to look around. i don’t think there’s anything wrong with the padded seat, it just seemed like too much of a bother and just another thing to buy.

  13. Kimberly Doscher July 21, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    My boys both went through a phase of leaning forward or sideways, and gnawing on the metal edge of the cart. My cart seat cover kept the next unsuspecting shopper from touching their saliva, which I am sure they would appreciate if they knew. (Towels don’t stay in place nearly as well.)

    Also, they’re a good idea during flu season, esp. if your child is immune-compromised or cannot get the flu vaccine because of an egg allergy.

    I like the rest of this post, though. ^_^

  14. Kate July 21, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    Eric –

    Actually, he’s right. Teen risk-taking behaviors peaked in the late 80s and have tended to trend down since. Street drug use is down (http://www.drugabuse.gov/infofacts/hsyouthtrends.html) though more kids sneak from their parents medicine cabinets. Sexual promiscuity among teens has been trending down and the age of first sexual activity has been creeping up again. Rates of teen pregnancy have been dropping overall, noticeably enough that different groups have had a hay-day fighting over the credit.

  15. K July 21, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    Well, we didn’t have a shopping cart thing… but, my kids rode in a sling until they were old enough to sit up safely. No worries about them falling out, touching yuck, etc.

    I am all about free range as kids grow older, but was all attachment slinging, co-sleeping for my babies. (Is having a baby sleep loose in your bed helicoptering or free-range?).

    As they grew old enough to not be safe in our bed (or to disrupt our sleep), they slept on a matress on the floor of a gated room – no crib to climb out of. We added box springs and frame later, and lastly removed the gate.

  16. Eric July 21, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    @ Jarrod: I can almost be certain that those stats of injuries, are because the parent wasn’t keeping an eye on their kids. It’s bad enough putting an infant on the cart, but to leave them there as you turn away is just irresponsible. I’m all for letting kids be kids, but when they are THAT young, as to not even be able to sit up on their own just yet, or getting their mouths on everything, the parent(s) DO have to keep an eye out in this situation. Children don’t have any comprehension at this age. 4 and up, yes. Younger than not so much. It’s always a double standard for these parents. Like it’s only relevant if it’s convenient for them, not the child.

    I prefer those shoulder bags/straps for infants. Your hands are free, you child is secure and won’t fall out of a cart, and you have that much more room for groceries. It’s really all about common sense.

  17. Anna July 21, 2010 at 2:05 am #

    It isn’t only moms who fear the germs on grocery carts. Thanks to numerous media reports of the bacteria-laden grocery carts, public awareness is quite high, so stores have started providing anti-bacterial wipes at the cart corrals near the entrance doors to stores (I guess it’s impractical to periodically wash the carts). I see seniors especially, using the wipes on the cart handles, in addition to many middle-aged folks (and of course, moms to infants and toddlers in carts).

    I don’t bother with wiping the cart handle unless it is sticky from a previous sugar-slobbering toddler, though I am mindful not to go touching my mouth, nose, or eyes with my hands without washing with soap and hot water first. First and foremost, my efforts to stay healthy include a good diet of Real Food (not the Sterile SAD, aka Machine Cuisine), good sleep habits, keeping my Vit D into the middle-upper range, and keeping my gut microbiota happy (much of the immune system is located in the gut and depends on a beneficial balance of microbes).

    Avoiding common germs is a flawed approach, as a healthy immune system should be able to handle a wide range of common bacteria (in fact, like strong muscles, a healthy immune system demands “exercise” or else it becomes weakened). I do realize that impaired immune systems are so common these days (and it’s the primary approach of allopathic medicine) that avoidance of germs might seem like the best approach, but it really misses the mark in so many ways.

  18. Eric July 21, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    @ K: SLINGS! Thank you. I was trying to figure out the name of that. lol

    @ Kate: That’s interesting. But that 0.x % difference isn’t all too encouraging. Although it’s a slight decline in those categories, to me an actual relevant decline would be say at least 5 – 10%. But hey, better than nothing.

    I’ve worked in fields that have involved interacting with teens (12-17), still do. Weed use hasn’t changed in my city. Sexual interaction has become more noticeable with younger teens. But kids are better informed now, which can explain the slight decline in teen pregnancy, and even hard drub use. There’s this new “drug” that kids are doing called Salvia Divinorum. It’s plant based and there is no regulation for it, so it’s legal to buy, and is available online. There’s also a new thing called iDoser (idoser.com), in which you listen to an audio recording that will activate the same chemicals that give you that “high” feeling.

    The stuff I hear from these kids are slightly alarming. Especially their knowledge of legalities and loop holes. What’s even more surprising, is tha a lot of these kids are good kids. Not violent, not strung out and doing really stupid things. Guess it’s this generation of “experimenting”.

  19. Jenne July 21, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    At one point in the last decade, the rate of teen pregnancy (pregnancy under 20) hit it’s lowest point since they’ve been collecting statistics. They started collecting statistics in 1939, when it was still acceptable to be pregnant (if married) at 18 or 19.

  20. ebohlman July 21, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    Eric: Everything I’ve seen indicates that the median age for first sex is still around 16.5 in both the US and the UK. There are some regional variations and I can believe that in some (rather poor) communities it might be as low as 14, but those are outliers. Keep in mind that you can see large relative increases in a fairly rare phenomenon even while the phenomenon remains rare (related example: Did you know that only 1 out of 10 jobs in the next few decades is going to require having studied math beyond Algebra 1? Haven’t we all been told that the fastest-growing jobs are going to require tons of math? Well it turns out that both statements are true. It turns out that the fastest growing jobs are still, even after they grow, going to account for a very small part of the job market). Again, last time I checked only about 25% of kids were sexually active before their 15th birthdays.

    Salvia is banned or heavily regulated in several states, my own state of Illinois included. Neurologist Steve Novella has completely debunked the “e-drugs” panic at his blog (all binaural beats do is create a false perception of an additional beat; they don’t alter brain function in any meaningful way).

  21. spacefall July 21, 2010 at 3:47 am #

    So I guess standing on the end of the cart and holding onto the sides is probably right out, hey?

  22. LInda July 21, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    Each of my kids managed to bump their heads (not when they were infants).

    It taught them to be careful.

    You know how I kept my climber IN the basket? I tied his shoe laces together.

    I am the worst parent ever, obviously, since I did not shell out hundreds of dollars to “protect” my children (from learning something).

  23. Rich Wilson July 21, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    So I guess standing on the end of the cart and holding onto the sides is probably right out, hey?

    My son did that and the whole cart tipped over on him. No major injuries, but it did scare him enough to be more careful.

    Actually, side of cart, not end.

  24. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    I don’t always agree with Lenore, but I almost always enjoy and/or am educated by what she posts. However, sometimes her posts, and often the comments, reveal a stupefying irony that at least some of the commenters are completely oblivious to. While highlighting the fear mongering, hysterics, and judgmentalism of MSM and a frightening number of parents, these commenters end up engaging in the same. Instead of tsk-tsking parents for letting them be “free range” (however you wish to define that), they’re haranguing folks for allegedly hovering and smothering their children.

    Does nobody else see how the pendulum can swing to the opposite, and equally wrong, extreme? Trying to keep kids in some kind of super-safe, PC bubble Utopia is ludicrous and unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean letting kids do any damn fool thing they want to do, when they want to do it, however they want to do it is right. Parents aren’t detached sociologists just observing their kids, after all. IIRC, Lenore has even made that point. Why hasn’t it sunk into more commenters’ heads?

    I’m all for letting kids make mistakes and get bumps and bruises within reason, but I’ll thank you kindly to not imply helicopter tendencies in those of us who choose to employ modest means of keeping our kids happy, healthy, and safe.

  25. tommynomad July 21, 2010 at 4:35 am #

    I am a sociologist, and there’s nothing detatched about me or my field of inquiry.

    I had to do a google search for “padded fabric shopping cart covers” as I’ve never seen or heard of them. I guess they’re an interesting idea, but it occurs to me they’re rooted in car culture. I walk to the supermarket, either wearing my baby (in which case I can push a cart, or pushing him in his stroller (which I then use as a substitute cart).

    I’m pretty sure the metal and plastic carts are made of are pretty poor hosts for virii and bacteria, though Anna makes the most important point that avoiding contact with those germs is a fool’s game. The point is to have an immune system that actually works, and will kill off anything it comes into contact with.

  26. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 4:45 am #

    To clarify in specific reference to this topic, I agree that the anti-microbial obsession is asinine. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a parent to use a cloth thingamajig to keep their kinds from wobbling around in the cart, though. BTW, I often carry my kids in a Snugli, too, but it’s not always feasible. Once they get really grabby, I have to put them in the cart, because they reach for and risk knocking over shelved items in front of me when I get close enough to examine or pick up something.

  27. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 4:47 am #

    @tommynomad By “detached”, I meant that carefully controlled studies require objective observation and minimal interference with behaviors of interest. Parenting is a great deal more subjective and interactive. 😉

  28. JR July 21, 2010 at 4:56 am #

    Well, dunno about the shopping-cart things (do we have them in Canada? I don’t think I’ve seen what’s being described here), but how’s this for over-the-top (literally)?

    http://www.thudguard.com/

  29. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    RE: Thudguard

    Un.Freaking. Believable.

    Maybe some people should just avoid having or caring for kids. 😉

  30. pentamom July 21, 2010 at 5:10 am #

    If I didn’t already think the Thudgard was a silly idea, the fact that they couldn’t get anyone to write ad copy who didn’t know better than to use the expression “heart-rendering” speaks pretty badly. (Rendering is a process of cooking something down. RENDING is tearing something.)

    No, I don’t judge people by the perfection of their language, but ad copy is different. You ARE trying to project an image by what you right, and I reserve the right to judge whether you project the image that “you know what you’re talking about” by whether you know what the words you use actually mean.

  31. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 5:13 am #

    “You ARE trying to project an image by what you right, and I reserve the right to judge whether you project the image that ‘you know what you’re talking about’ by whether you know what the words you use actually mean.”

    Teehee. 😉

  32. pentamom July 21, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    The other problem with the logic of the Thudgard ad copy is that kids who can’t walk steadily yet don’t have far to fall and aren’t moving with much momentum. Yes, 1 in what, maybe 10 million times a toddler hits his head hard enough to cause actual permanent injury in the course of normal learning to walk. But that’s the same argument for wrapping them in bubble wrap. Or for keeping us all in helmets, all the time.

  33. pentamom July 21, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    Teehee! Got me! But I’m not selling anything, and nobody’s paying me — that was my real point.

  34. Eric Williams July 21, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    It wasn’t really meant to be a serious gotcha. The irony just made me chuckle. I hope you chuckled, too. :)

  35. Ben July 21, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    “Whoa! E-books outselling hardcovers! http://nyti.ms/9tjGd1 … Which reminds me, my book is on Kindle! http://amzn.to/cC0dUX 5 hours ago”

    You act like it’s a miracle, Lenore. I’m not surprised. With the bad economy, people save money even more than they usually do, and ebooks are a lot cheaper because the lack of storage space; hence people avoiding buying the expensive heavy edition of a book…

  36. MikeB July 21, 2010 at 6:21 am #

    I gueessssssss I can see that it’s possible for a kid to get injured falling from a shopping cart, maybe. But germs?? I never thought of a shopping cart as a germ-mobile. I wonder if that woman washes off her canned good before putting them in the pantry…..

  37. kherbert July 21, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    Free Range Children Sighting –
    I’ve writen about Harris County, Texas Library System’s great policy about unattendent children. (Basically they are entitled to use the library as long as they behave. Police will be called if children are stranded at closing.)

    I just got back from the library. It was full and a bunch of kids were volunteering. The youngest was probably about 9. Well I was in the hold shelves looking for my books and DVD’s (They had e-mailed me they were ready).

    [Background – Holds are put in an interoffice envelope and Card with your name is put in a slot on the front. You can pull your own holds and check them out at the auto check outs. They will only check out for the person they are reserved for, so people can’t snag your holds]

    One volunteer was showing another volunteer how to shelve the holds. I mentioned I couldn’t find some of the items that I had been e-mailed about. The trainer went to check another cart for me. The trainie took an evelope off the cart and tried to shelve it.

    He looked at me and said, “I guess I didn’t understand”
    I showed him how the tag worked, and where to shelve that envelope. Alpha order and if you have 2 or more envelopes, you file the newer ones behind the older holds.

    I also pointed out that the font they use can be hard to read. I explained that you needed to look carefully at the name and not depend on the cart being alphabetized correctly. I explained that 1/2 the times I find my stuff filed under Hebert instead of Herbert. The font they use kind of makes the r merge with the b making it hard to read.

    The other volunteer came back with my envelopes.

    As I walked to the check out station, a librarian stopped me. She thanked me for helping the young man. She also apologized for my stuff being misfiled. I did explain that I had noticed when there were a bunch of envelopes for people with the last name Hebert I was more likely to find my stuff under Hebert. It is an easy mistake to make when working quickly.

  38. Shannon July 21, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    I am normally very “free range” with my 3 kids, however, the “shopping cart cover” story jarred my memory.
    When my third child was 3 months old, he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a very rare form of childhood liver cancer. By the time he was sitting in shopping carts, he had had major surgery and 4 rounds of chemotherapy. His immune system was compromised for about a year and if he became sick, I had to immediately take him to the ER to prevent potentially fatal sepsis (infection in the blood stream). I faithfully used a shopping cart cover the few times I actually took him out to a grocery store during that year (if he wasn’t in a sling).
    Now when I see one of those shopping cart covers, I try to remember that sometimes people have a good reason to be scared of germs!
    Thankfully my little one is now 3 and doing well physically–I don’t worry about germs anymore, but will always be more sensitive because of our experience!

  39. pentamom July 21, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Eric Williams — I did chuckle. I deserved it, anyway.

  40. Kacey July 21, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    I proudly put my 10 month old in the shopping cart without a cover. I take my grandfather’s advice that a child needs to eat a peck of dirt before they turn one. I don’t fret too much about any of the germ stuff, I think it’s good for her immune system. But, my real reason for not using the covers is that it’s just one more piece of crap to carry around & remember to take into the store. I am often overwhelmed by all of this stuff!! After reading these comments, I will remember not to look down my nose at others using them, they may indeed have reason to use them. It’s good to check oneself for self-righteousness every once in a while.

  41. Uly July 21, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    You know how I kept my climber IN the basket? I tied his shoe laces together.

    Brilliant.

    Re: Thudgard: What really gets me about that is that it’s not even new. They’re just a modern version of a pudding cap. (Similarly, those walking wings, or whatever they’re called, are really just leading strings.)

  42. Parenting Old School July 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    I have yet to see one of these contraptions people are talking about but it is one of those things that makes going out with the kids just that more cumbersome the forget it.

    as @Kacey said every kid needs a peck of dirt down their gullet. As for self righteousness of looking down on others, yes I can see it if there is a medical reason but out side of that whatever.

    Kids need germs

  43. Ross July 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Cory Doctorow is a very important voice to the emerging generation. My father in law gave Little Brother to my son for Christmas (my son was 10 at the time) and it really made an impact on his life, especially the way he conducts himself online. I love the quote in the video where he describes technology as being a disruptive force now, but that it will swing to be an enabling force in the near future. This is the sort of thing that we need to be talking to our kids about over dinner!! We are in the midst of an information revolution, no different than the advent of the printing press 400 years ago, and our kids will be on the front lines of the restructuring of most of what we currently know. Exciting times!

  44. DirtyHooker July 22, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    One of my favorite things in the world was standing on the edge of the cart while my father pushed me around the supermarket. We did this until I got too heavy and nearly upended the wagon. That was a sad day.

  45. Hazel July 22, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    Re: Thudguard

    I was developmentally delayed and had such incredibly poor balance and never protected my face with my hands when I fell, that the Appliances department at the hospital actually made me a helmet probably very like that.

    By the time it was made, and got right (they had a few goes at it) I had improved and wasn’t considered, by the hospital, to need it. This was even though I was still falling over every few steps. My legs took a beating – my knees are still heavily scarred from that time.

    I was bad, really bad, and even I didn’t need it!

  46. Eric July 22, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    @ebohlman: Interesting stats. I agree that stats are dependent on area. It’s subjective. In my community, and the kids I’ve spoken with, most are from middle to low income families living in government housing or just on the outskirts. But there are those that are well to do as well, doing the same things.

    @Eric Williams: There are those who oppose the helicopter parenting style, but do over do it on the Free-Range parenting. Most likely due being fearful of stifling their kids. This can an issue as well. But most here that believe in free-range parenting know the balance. We don’t let our kids do whatever they want, when they want, that’s just completely irresponsible. They still need to be structured and educated, so that they know what they are getting themselves into. In my case, if my nephew wanted to do something and I felt that it was too risky for him right now, ie. climbing a 50 foot rock face, I wouldn’t let him do it. I would explain the situation, and give him alternatives, ie. little monkey bars in the park. Then let him off on his merry way.

    Free-Range parenting isn’t about letting your kids do whatever they want. It’s about being a smart parent, teaching your kids to use their heads in everyday life situations. So that they know the pitfalls, consequences, and benefits of their actions, and they will be able to handle themselves when a situation arises. Without needing you there by their side every single moment. It’s also about the parent teaching themselves too, that they can’t always be their for their children and being paranoid doesn’t benefit them or their child.

  47. Alex July 22, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    The fear *of* kids is one big difference I see between the US and the UK. I don’t understand why, but it seems the British are terrified of kids from about age 11 on. Shop owners have come up with various schemes to keep kids away from their shops (eg ultrasonic sirens). Local councils have installed “youth repelling” outdoor lights, removed benches and hang-out spots, and implemented curfews. This goes far beyond the anti-skateboarding harassment kids get in public in the US.

    We’re talking about a society with far less violent crime than the US, which nonetheless seems to feel they are under siege by drunken, hoodie-wearing, knife-wielding youths. The same youths are apparently so vulnerable in their earlier years that their lives would be ruined if their school pageant was videoed.

    Does anyone have any idea why kids are so scary to Brits?

  48. Hazel July 22, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    Some shops in the UK do not allow groups of young people over a certain number. I only know of two in my city but I live in a very small city.

    I’ve never heard of curfews imposed by the council, but maybe larger cities have them. It’s a seriously awful thing if councils are removing benches and hang-out spots – where are the kids meant to go exactly? I remember as a teen it was wonderful to have our own spaces, free from adults, where we could hang out.

    I’m 26. Youths frighten me sometimes. I mean, when they sprawl across steps in groups and won’t move for anybody and they will mock you if you ask them politely. You have to pick your way through them. They are the unfriendly groups – they love to stick out an unseen foot and watch you frantically grab for balance, laughing at you in sneering tones. Extremely immature. They’re just bored, but it’s really not nice.

    Then there are the groups who hang out on street corners near my home, with their bicycles. They always say hello to me and are extremely lovely, will help an old lady who drops her shopping and blow their cigarette smoke in the other direction when they’re talking to you.

    Both groups look exactly the same from a distance. You don’t know until you get up close, and the herd mentality of the first group is frightening – if they decide they want to hurt you, they might all join in. I definitely don’t fear being stabbed, not in York – the anxiety is fear of being harmed in other ways – falling badly, having my things stolen or being punched or kicked. It does happen, not isolated incidents either, and I’m afraid it is often these bored youths who do these things rather than adults, probably because adults have more ways to keep themselves busy and are less likely to want to steal somebody’s coat so they can set fire to it, as one example of something that happened to my brother recently. No reason at all, they were just idle and bored.

  49. pentamom July 22, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    I’m not sure if I see the “mosquito” as being all THAT creepy. I don’t like the parallel to “what if it was something only black people can hear” because I think the reality is that it’s not so much that they don’t want “kids” congregating in groups but wouldn’t mind adults — they don’t want “people” congregating in groups, and kids just happen to be the ones who do it. So it makes sense to have something that only works on the people who ACTUALLY do the thing you don’t want done — not because you don’t want “those people” to do it, but because nobody else *does* do it.

    Having said that, I’m not a fan of the thing. I just don’t think it’s so much that people “hate kids” but don’t mind other people. I think business owners just don’t want mobs of people hanging around — it blocks the entrances, and might intimidate potential customers — and kids are the ones who do it.

  50. Peter Brülls July 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    I have to say that I find the „Fear is bad“-angle (while I agree with it) immensely funny after Mr. Doctorow justified 10 times the price of a normal fan because of his kid’s fingers.

  51. BobB July 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    I remeber I first came to my senses regarding overprotectiveness when I received one of those baby safety catalogs. More than half of the equipment was so absurd that it baecame a favorite unintentional comedy piece.

  52. Susan C July 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    The other day I saw a couple using one of those shopping cart covers–but after they put their child in, they realized that they apparently put the cover on upside down. So they lifted the kid up and flipped the cover over–presumably transferring all those nasty germs to the side their child would be inhabiting!

  53. Kie July 29, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    While I don’t plan on using the cart-cover for germs (please, my kid goes to daycare and gets MORE than his fair share of germs at his ripe old age of 5 months), I do plan on using one for the facts that:

    1 – my kid leans forward to chew on EVERYTHING. Getting germs or not, that’s disgusting to do to a shopping cart.

    2 – He is sitting up on his own, but alas, he does fall over. And even if the hit isn’t going to be a hard one, I would rather not have a screaming child in the middle of the supermarket because he hit his head.

    3 – It’s my money, I should be able to waste it on what I want!

  54. Petrol Leaf Blower : October 31, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

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