Outrage of the Week Demoted to Not-Quite-An-Outrage!

Hey, this is just terrific news! Eagle Place Townhomes in Colorado has lifted its ban that forbid ANY CHILD UNDER AGE 16 FROM PLAYING OUTSIDE WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION.

Let’s hear it for the power of the press!

An article in the Boulder Camera earlier this week highlighted the Townhomes’  bylaws that began, “While children bring such joy to our lives and we all love seeing them outside playing in their carefree world, we cannot have them unsupervised.” (Excuse me: Does that not sound EXACTLY like Dolores Umbrage in Harry Potter?)

Anyway, one a spotlight shone bright on the anti-kiddie complex, scholars (and TV news teams) started pointing out that  requiring parental supervision for all kids at all times is not even legal.  So now the complex is merely “suggesting” it.

Which, of course, is still insane. Still cover-your-you-know-what. Still a weird, sickening sign of the times — suggesting that every person under age 16 SHOULD have an adult by their side at all times. But it is LESS sickening than it was, which is why this Outrage of the Week has been demoted to, “Weird Sickening Sign of the Times of the Week.”  Woo hoo! — Lenore .

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25 Responses to Outrage of the Week Demoted to Not-Quite-An-Outrage!

  1. Jen August 7, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    Woo hoo indeed. I’m glad whoever runs EaglePlace Townhomes has pulled their head out of thier ass.

  2. LauraL August 7, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    Now we just need to get parents to take responsibility for the things their children *might* do (like get stuck in an a/c?) and own it. If my child does mess up, we own it – you won’t hear ‘not my preshush widdle angel!’ coming from me unless there’s some pretty strong evidence it wasn’t my kid.

    My kids are normal kids. They are curious, and then they try to cover it up if they mess up. I need to be the grown up and show them how to take responsibility if something does happen.

  3. De in D.C. August 7, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    It bothers me that the development management thought that kids couldn’t be trusted by themselves for anything, until they reach the magic age when they can operate a two-ton death machine by themselves. Because there’s nothing like getting your first taste of freedom while going 70mph down the road.

  4. Sierra August 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    This is so entirely a class issue. For middle-class parents, constraints like these are obnoxious, but for people without the means to follow their kids around all day long or enroll them in camps, classes and programs, they are simply oppressive.

  5. LaDonna August 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    That’s great news! When I was reading the initial post on this to my DH, he said, “That’s not legal! They can’t do that!” So glad to hear it was changed!

  6. bushidoka August 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    I didn’t think that was legal, but not being from the US I was not sure.

  7. Katie August 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Say, Lenore, next time there’s something that could do with bad press or outside pressure (like this one), could you post a phone number or email address where we, your readership, might be able to voice our outrage?

  8. David Veatch August 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    @De in D.C.: “Because there’s nothing like getting your first taste of freedom while going 70mph down the road.”

    What an excellent point! Experience, and only experience, bestows wisdom.

  9. Banshee August 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    OK, this is going to be completely off topic…

    Lenore, since you brought up Harry Potter, I’m curious if you have anything to say about the stink that was made right after the movie came out about the presense of alcohol in the movie. I saw an article about it and had to roll my eyes. I know it isn’t exactly a free range issue, but it pertains to kids and now I’m curious about your thoughts on it.

  10. MFA Grad August 7, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    Interestingly enough, my husband sent me a link to this article looking at a study of how the “tighter leash” mentality of modern parenting has led to wilder kids at home; http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20090805/sc_livescience/kidstodayontighterleashbutwildathome

    (sorry it’s not an active link, couldnt’ quite get it to work, so you’ll probably have to cut & paste).

    It’s more of a short overview on how the philosophy behind parenting has altered over the last century and it’s effects on child behavior – a bit cursory, but still interesting. The article itself even links to another study about “the importance of child-like free play to a cooperative society.”

    So the theory is that kids being given less autonomy outside the house are going to act up more at home because they have no other outlet to express said desire for autonomy? You don’t say…

    Lenore, love the Harry Potter/Dolores Umbridge comparison there. Brilliant.

  11. MFA Grad August 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    ok, apparently the link does work (if it isn’t obvious, I’m not much of a tech person here).

  12. neener August 7, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    AWESOME! Nice that they stopped inspecting their colons (code in our house for having their heads up their asses), even if it took the uncomfortable media glare to get it done.

    And…off-topic, but absolutely with De and David V: Experience bestows wisdom…SECONDED!

    The only way for children to learn is by doing…and sometimes failing, falling, scraping, breaking, not getting invited back, bruising a treasured friendship, breaking a rule and getting caught, getting a zero when homework is forgotten, spending the day shivering after insisting on not wearing a coat, cleaning up cat pee when the litterbox chore is ignored, saving for a new iPod when they lose the one that was a gift, and on and on.

    Two things we’re HUGE on in my house are “natural consequences” and our mantra of “Own it!” Owning what you do, things you say, who you are, what you like/dislike, choices you make, whether you follow or lead or go your own way instead, and of course the repercussions of all the above, both good and bad. And my daughter absolutely knows that “Own it!” applies to everyone in the house – the blame game has no place in our family. I’ve told her that grownups call it “integrity”, and it’s sadly lacking nowadays.
    /derail

  13. Kris August 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm #

    Regarding alcohol in Harry Potter, there’s a decent summary of British drinking laws here: http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/3356.

    Presumably, the teachers at Hogwarts are acting in loco parentis and thus can legally offer a small amount of celebratory alcohol to their 16-year-old students (although the fictional teacher in question is not known for good judgment, admittedly.) Furthermore, Brits and Europeans in general are much less uptight about “underage” alcohol (and seem to have less faith than Americans that reaching a specific birthday instantly conveys responsibility with one’s drinking habits), so I suspect the whole thing is a non-issue except in the U.S.

  14. Banshee August 7, 2009 at 11:32 pm #

    @Kris

    Yea, I’m pretty sure the article I read was from a US news outlet. Personally I feel that the way this country treats subjects like alcohol is ridiculous and counterproductive. Kids get bombarded all through school about how alcohol is something they shouldn’t touch and it’s only for adults and it can cause all sorts of horrible things to happen, so what do you think they’re going to do when they finally get a chance to try it? It doesn’t matter if they’re underage when they first try it or if they’ve actually reached the legal age before trying it, when something is made that big a deal of kids see it as this huge thing and they overdo it when they get access. If the mentality were more relaxed here there would be less instances of teenagers getting DUIs and getting into wrecks because they were driving drunk. Stuff like that happens because you get a 16 year old at a party with booze and they have the mentality of “I shouldn’t be doing this, so I’ll do it as much as possible right now while I have access”, then their curfew rolls around and they start thinking “Oh crap, Mom and Dad will kill me if I don’t get home on time.” So they get in the car to go home and then get pulled over or into a collision. And it amazes me that more people don’t seem to understand this…

  15. Socialwrkr24/7 August 7, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Ha! Dolores Umbridge EXACTLY!

  16. neener August 8, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Banshee: Me, too! My mom was a bartender for most of my childhood, and although she rarely drank, there was ALWAYS liquor in the house, right out in the open. I was told early on that if I wanted a drink, she’d make me all I wanted and I could stay at home and enjoy it. (I didn’t enjoy it – it was “totally grody” to my young palate.) But by not forbidding it/hiding it/locking it up, it took the mystique right out of it. So when I hit my teen years and friends were having “drinking parties” when parents were out of town, I was the one who didn’t drink, or had a minimal amount, wasn’t passed out on the lawn, and got home just fine. Because it had never been built up to be the Ultimate Teenage Experience. It was just something I could choose to do or not do, and heck…I could do it at home if I wanted, so how was getting drunk really all that cool? All teens know that if your parents allow you to do something, that something just can’t be “cool”! LOL

    I am doing the same with my 9yo. She asked what beer tasted like so I gave her one. She took a swig and was predictably disgusted. Heh. :-)

  17. leah e. August 8, 2009 at 12:11 am #

    @Banshee:

    Haha!!! I also rolled my eyes down the street too about the alcohol brouhaha.

  18. MFA Grad August 8, 2009 at 1:08 am #

    Kris –

    Good point about the attitude towards “underage” alcohol. My parents usually let us have a small celebratory glass of wine on special occasions when we were kids (Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, etc.). The first time I tried whiskey was when I was 9 – I saw my dad drinking it, asked if I could try a sip, and of course it was AWFUL. I don’t think a child’s tastebuds are meant to handle hard liquor. I wouldn’t touch whiskey/scotch again until well into my 20s, which I suspect was my dad’s original goal in letting me try it that young in the first place.

    Alcohol was never a forbidden subject in the house – we knew we weren’t allowed to drink it unless given permission (and we did get in HUGE trouble the once or twice we broke that rule), but it wasn’t absolutely verboten. I was allowed to sit with my dad when his wine club friends came by, and even occasionally allowed a tiny sample sip here and there so I could understand what my dad was talking about “oakwood barrel undertones” and “hints of orange and spice” (I blame him for my wine snob attitude as an adult), and it was an everyday ritual for me to mix him his evening martini that he sipped while playing the piano before dinner. The attitude they imparted made a huge difference when I got up to high school and kids were bragging about sneaking into Mom & Dad’s liquor cabinet at parties, getting drunk, etc – I had no desire to engage in that sort of rule-breaking behavior because for me, drinking had never expressly been against the rules, so getting sick and getting grounded (or god forbid, into an accident) seemed stupid prices to pay for something that I had never looked at as forbidden to begin with.

    Someone brought up the point that we suddenly expect kids to magically morph into trustworthy adults when they’re legally old enough to handle a several ton metal death-on-wheels machine, but still not old enough to trust with alcohol. One has to wonder how much difference it would make if maybe the age limits were reversed, or teens at least had the chance to learn how to drink responsibly and what their limits were before they were legally allowed to drive a car. I’m not saying that this SHOULD be the case, but I think it’s a point worth considering.

  19. MFA Grad August 8, 2009 at 1:10 am #

    Banshee & neener – good points too (your posts came up while I was writing my comment).

  20. ebohlman August 8, 2009 at 5:08 am #

    One of the big advantages of learning to drink under supervision is that if it’s done right, you develop a really good sense of how it takes time to feel the full effects of what you drank. In the absence of such learning, kids (counting people in their 20s here) will drink steadily until they’ve reached their desired level of buzz. The problem is that at that point they aren’t yet feeling any of the effects of the last few drinks they had, and so they wind up getting really drunk and then hung over the next day.

    In countries with rational attitudes toward drinking, though, a kid’s first experiences with feeling the effects of alcohol will involve the person supplying him cutting him off just as he’s starting to feel the effects. And he’ll learn that the buzz doesn’t suddenly go away; instead it keeps building. The result is less of an inclination to binge, because they learn exactly how much and how fast they need to drink to maintain a pleasant, but not drunken, feeling.

    The standard public-health mantra is that studies show that kids who start drinking before 14 are far more likely to end up as alcoholics than those who don’t, so it’s not safe for kids to consume even a drop. The problem there is that all the subjects in the studies, as you might have guessed, were engaging in unsupervised binge drinking as kids. One of the cardinal rules for conducting and interpreting research is that you can’t extrapolate beyond your range of observations. In this case, you can’t derive *any* conclusion about the effects of supervised limited drinking from those results. From what I gather (I haven’t looked into it real closely), there’s little relationship between the prevalence of alcoholism in a society and the age at which kids are allowed to drink, but societies that allow supervised drinking have fewer problems with drunken behavior committed by non-alcohol-dependent people (this is consistent with the notion that susceptibility to alcoholism is a personal biological trait).

  21. sara August 9, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    hmmm…not a lot of facts and figures on the attitudes toward alcohol discussion just a lot of antecdotes – I’ll add mine just for variety..I grew up in a home with no alcohol and was never around it, and never drank in high school, did not go crazy when I got to college, and now drink occassionally and responsibly. My friend who grew up in a house similar to those described above in other comments just started attending AA. I think there are an incredible number of factors that come into play when it comes to addiction and the ways that teens view and use alcohol – too complex to make blanket statements IMO.

  22. Rich Wilson August 10, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    Something occurred to me about this story, but I never got around to posting it. The housing community in question was ‘affordable housing’. I wonder how that impacted the dynamic. I would think the families would be just a little less willing to raise a fuss, since they depend on being able to live their at a reduced rate. And the management is probably used to compliant tenants.

    I dunno, just my opinion, but I find there’s already a power gap between landlords and tenants. And the ‘affordable’ aspect in my experience increases that, and opens the door for more abuse of power.

  23. wendyayn August 10, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    I think what annoys me the most is the schools teaching the kids about the evils of alcohol to the point where my child comes home parroting about the evilness of it. She also got a little self righteous with me and told me that I was breaking the law when I allowed her o20 year old brother to have a beer. Now my son had just returned from Paris Island (boot camp in the marine corp) and asked for a beer with dinner. I had to sit down and talk to her about the differences between letting her brother and his friends have a kegger at my house with underage kids and drinking one beer. I was offended.

  24. kherbert August 12, 2009 at 7:47 am #

    Wendyayn –
    I love our Kids and Cops program for just this reason. They draw clear lines between legal and illegal behavior.

    It is legal for adults to drink responsibly

    It is illegal for children to drink under most circumstances but there are times it is legal for a child to have a sip of wine/water down wine.(He focuses on mainly religious services. In Texas it would be legal for you to hand your 20 yo a beer in your house – but he doesn’t get into that very deeply with 10 yo)

    It is legal to take medication the way the doctor says – but we should tell our doctor or adults if the medication makes us feel funny or bad. It is not unusual for him to get questions about pain management. There is usually a couple of kids who know someone that has cancer, recovering from an injury, has other illness that requires pain management. I think he does a good job.

    It is illegal to take medication the doctor gave another person or to sell medication the doctor gives us.

    It is illegal to buy/sell drugs.

    Several years ago we didn’t like the deputy assigned to us – and said so at the end of the program. His CO came and met with us. Our complaints

    – Used inappropriate language that the children or a teacher would be written up for

    – Was to buddy buddy including helping kids get around a class rule

    – Did not practice proper gun safety. Namely turning cartwheels, doing flips, jumping off swings in a playground full of kids with a loaded weapon. (at one point it fell out his holster) There were 4 teachers complaining 3, including me, are gun owners.

    He was removed from our campus and given further training. The current deputy is great.

  25. paxemilia August 15, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    I’m a bit late to this thread, having just discovered this blog, but I did want to reply to Rich Wilson above who asked if there could be class issues involved. I would hardly be surprised if this were the case. Until recently I lived in Boulder, CO. Lafayette is a small town just outside Boulder (or was, rather- now it’s getting caught up in the sprawl between Boulder and Denver). A lot of people live there because they can’t afford to buy in Boulder, and there’s a large Latino population. I do see an element of “‘those people’ can’t/won’t control their children” at play here.