Posted on May 19th, 2013 by lskenazy
Readers — Please spread the word, especially to nervous parents: If 2013 keeps going the way it has BEEN going, crime-wise, we are about to experience the LOWEST MURDER RATE SINCE 1906. That’s according to Rick Nevin, an economic consultant and anti-lead activist. (See his chart, below.)
THE LOWEST MURDER RATE in OVER A CENTURY?
Yes indeed. That’s not just lower than when WE were kids. That’s lower than when our grannies and even great-grandparents were kids, and I am pretty sure their parents didn’t make them wear GPS watches to track them every second. Nor did their parents nervously drive them to the bus stop, or forbid them to play on the front lawn unsupervised. Nor were the cops picking them up when the walked to town at age 7, or 11. And yet they were in MORE DANGER of being MURDERED than our kids are today.
Note: The decline is not a result of helicopter parenting, as most murder victims are adults and we have not been helicoptering them. And we certainly weren’t helicoptering back in the ’40s and ’50s, when crime was also low. In other words: This is simply good crime news. Nevin believes it’s a result of lowering the amount of lead exposure, which has meant less brain-addling. I’ve heard other rationales, too, from more police to better drugs for treating the mental illnesses that can lead to criminality.
Whatever the cause(s), maybe this is a sign that we should start allowing out kids back out into the world, rather than “protecting” them from it. Or, as policy analyst Ben Miller of Common Good says: Maybe it’s “a sign that our priority should be promoting common sense, instead of letting fear of every conceivable risk take control of our laws and rules. While our communities grow safer, we keep thinking up new fears — and rules — that prevent us and our children from enjoying the benefits of our safety.”
Let’s not look this gift horse in the mouth. For one thing: Ick. All those teeth and horse breath. But also: A gift is to be appreciated. And what a lovely one to give our kids. – L.
Filed under: Breaking news, GOOD News, Miscellaneous | 19 Comments »
Posted on May 17th, 2013 by lskenazy
Readers: A note I got yesterday:
we have so called free rangers in our neighborhood. rude, inconsiderate, etc.-their parents do not have a clue where they are or how they act. neither do they care. maybe they got their lazy parenting ideas from your lovely book. hopefully none of your kids will wind up in the hands of predators-how sad that you excuse lazy parenting.
I wrote back explaining (through gritted fingers) that what he or she was describing was not Free-Range but negligence. That Free-Rangers believe in teaching our kids the basics they need to be safe, then gradually giving them more rope. And as for fearing predators, violent crime is down to the level it was before color TV. So our kids today are actually safer than we were.
Then frequent commenter Earth Lion came up with a great idea: “You know you’re a Free-Range Parent when…” Earth’s was this:
You know you’re a Free-Range Parent when you send you 12 year old daughter off to a sleepover despite not remembering the house number of our daughter’s friends house, and not feeling worried but had a good laugh about how if there was an emergency, we would have to go door knocking on every house in the street to see which house they lived in.
And now, let’s hear yours! Mine:”You know you’re a Free-Range Parent when you want everyone to take their kids to the park and leave them there tomorrow. – L
Dirt and Free-Range often go together.
Filed under: Miscellaneous | 146 Comments »
Posted on May 16th, 2013 by lskenazy
Readers — These studies discussed at Inhabitots seem to support what a lot of us feel in our guts: That outdoor play is probably very key, and taking it away in favor of more “safety” or more “education” has caused us a number of ills. Ironically, our kids are LESS safe (from depression, diabetes, obesity…) and LESS educated (about the natural world and all the things it makes you wonder about). So read this while you send your kids outside, perhaps this Saturday on Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day! - L
PLAYING IN THE GRASS MAY BE THE KEY TO EASING ADHD SYMPTOMS
by Jennifer Chait
Amazing but true, a new study, published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, shows that kids who regularly play in outdoor green spaces have milder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms than those who play regularly indoors or in built outdoor environments. This study back up previous studies that show how kids majorly benefit from green spaces; i.e. spaces with plenty of grass and trees. For example, research posted by The Morton Arboretum shows that ADHD symptoms in children are relieved after contact with nature, asthma symptoms are reduced, and kids who play outdoors have less stress. Specifically, as related to ADHD, past research shows that kids experiencing ADHD can concentrate better, complete tasks better, and follow directions better after playing in a natural green space. Plus, the greener the setting, the more symptom relief.
To calm down, kids need a hit of grass. (And trees. And flowers…)
Filed under: Miscellaneous, Parks, Playing and Playgrounds, Special needs | 43 Comments »
Posted on May 15th, 2013 by lskenazy
Yes folks, Saturday May 18 is international Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day, the Free-Range holiday that’s celebrated just the way it sounds: We all take our kids to our local park and, if they’re 7 or 8 or older, leave them there for a bit, starting at 10 a.m. That way, they meet up with other kids from the neighborhood — even ones that go to different schools.
After we wave goodbye, the kids will come up with something to do, as kids always have. And by the time they’re done — half an hour, or even half a day later — chances are they’ll want to do it again. So Sunday becomes unofficial “Our kids are going to the park on their own day,” as do most days thereafter. Suddenly, the empty parks are full of kids again!
If you’ve got younger children, you can participate, too. Go to the nearest park and watch what your kids will be able to do in only a few years. Meantime, you’re sitting on the bench, creating the kind of community that reassures the parents leaving their older kids there.
“BUT TIMES HAVE CHANGED!”
This simple, old-fashioned idea will, of course, seem radical to some. They will say they loved playing on their own when they were kids, but now it’s too dangerous. Please show them this just-released Pew study on gun violence that states: “Firearm homicide rates in the late 2000s were equal to those not seen since the early 1960s.” That’s right — gun crime is down to the level it was BEFORE COLOR TV.
Meantime, diabetes and obesity — the twin scourges of sitting inside — are up. What’s more, it is SAFER for kids to play than not to play. Here are some studies to wave around, if any of your friends are skeptical:
Kids NEED “adult-free play in diverse environments,” says this book review in Psychology Today, noting that a “growing body of scientific evidence confirming a direct relationship between play, evolution and brain growth.” Kids get SMART BY PLAYING.
Is it dangerous? More kids go to hospital for falling out of bed than trees. Moreover: Girls who play in dirt are healthier.
And yet: 1 in 4 kids, ages 6 to 12, NEVER goes outside without a parent. The outdoors is treated like yard time at prison.
Fight the misplaced fear that has kept kids indoors or only in supervised programs. Go forth to Facebook and Twitter and the PTA to spread the word about Take Our Children to the Park… and Leave Them There Day!
And tell us how it goes! – L
At last!! Playing in the park just like mom and dad did!
Filed under: Miscellaneous | 30 Comments »
Posted on May 14th, 2013 by lskenazy
Sorry Readers — I’m all riled up today. Too many things are annoying me, and one of them is the story I just heard from a friend. On Friday, in honor of Mother’s Day, her first grade daughter’s class was having a tea. So, in the foyer, waiting to go into the classroom, were a bunch of other moms milling around. When my friend got to the front door of the school, which was locked, she motioned for someone to please open it.
None of the moms would.
One of them pantomimed for her to press a buzzer, which would alert the office, which would then officially allow her in. But — these were the other first grade moms! Some had been to my friend’s house! There is a difference between caution and obtuseness, between real safety and “following orders.” It’s a difference they chose to ignore.
Do they really think their children are in danger from a mom coming to tea?
If so, shouldn’t they hire an official taster? After all, what if one of the parents poisoned the scones? - L.
Halt there, you sneaking, scheming enemy until proven otherwise!
Filed under: Crazy Parents, Miscellaneous, School and Zero Tolerance and Bullies, Uber Safety | 106 Comments »
- Safety Second (Or Maybe Even Third)
Hi Folks! Here’s new wisdom from Michigan’s Heather Shumaker, author of It’s OK Not to Share…And Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids . She’s a speaker, blogger and advocate for free play and no homework for young children. Hey — so am I! L. Safety Second – 3 Risks Young Kids Need by Heather Shumaker Sometimes [...]
- “Nothing Bad Happened When Son with Autism…”
Hi Readers! You have been sending in fantastic, “Nothing Bad Happened When My Kid…” stories that show how nice and normal life can be when we quit worrying about extremely unlikely tragedies every time we consider letting our kids out of our sight. The note below one is a reminder that special needs kids need [...]
- Happy Mothers Day News: Kidnappings Like Cleveland Less Likely than Ever
Hi Readers — especially, today, moms! While you eat your burnt toast and funky eggs in bed (something, by the way, my kids never did for me), here’s news to brighten your day and life, from a Washington Post article: “Five Myths About Missing Children.” It’s by David Finkelhor, who was an extremely helpful and [...]
- American Girl Dolls Are Helicoptered, Too!
Readers — Here’s a phenom unbeknownst to me (a mom of boys): the de-adventuring of American Girl dolls. Once marketed as pint-size players in America’s great sweep of history, now they go to the spa. According to Amy Schiller in The Atlantic: With a greater focus on appearance, increasingly mild character development, and innocuous political [...]
- Presenting: A Short Free-Range Kids Film!
Hi Folks! This is a documentary done by Carla Reid and Franny Plumridge, two university students who were raised in the country 16,000 kilometres apart (Carla in Australia, Franny in Canada), but both encouraged by their parents to actively explore and experience their world. Their rural Free-Range upbringing and shared passion for filmmaking inspired them to [...]