Principal Writes: Your Children Must be Supervised at All Times

From the: “Don’t confuse me with the facts” dept. comes this note about a note:

Dear Free-Range Kids: Our weekly school newsletter contained a paragraph about supervising children at school events with the gem “Unfortunately, the world is not as it was many years ago.”

I responded with some objections, citing the various statistics about crime being a decline and such and this is what I got back.
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“I do not believe the statement to be inaccurate.  The world is not the same as it was many years ago.  Parents in times gone by  often turned their children loose expecting that they would be safe.  One reason crimes against children is declining is because parents and others are now more vigilant  in watching their children and not letting them roam without supervision.  However, it is too easy these days for some kids to get hold of marijuana, alcohol, etc. and share it with their friends.  Young people, for a variety of reasons,  are more likely to believe that sexual behavior outside of marriage is appropriate.  Parents sometimes appear to  believe their children to be safe from such influences just because they are at a parish event.  Unfortunately that is not true. It falls to all of us to keep our children close and safe by providing appropriate supervision.”
 
I don’t even know how to respond to this.
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Sigh.
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Thank you for your blog. It’s been a great resource and source of support and inspiration.
Okay, folks. Time to come up with some responses. Since this principal is talking about an event AT THE SCHOOL, it seems a little weird about all the drinking and drugs going on right there, on a night when parents AND kids are on premises. Beyond that, here are the facts about teen pregnancy of late: “TEEN PREGNANCY,  BIRTH &  ABORTION RATES AT HISTORIC LOWS.”  Drugs? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Check out this from the National Institute of Health:
2014’s Monitoring the Future survey of drug use and attitudes among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders continued to show encouraging news about youth drug use, including decreasing use of alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription pain relievers; no increase in use of marijuana; decreasing use of inhalants and synthetic drugs, including K2/Spice and bath salts; and a general decline over the last two decades in the use of illicit drugs.
So if the principal wants to fantasize about facts and enact school policy based on them, I guess that’s a prerogative of the job. But my new catchphrase for this is FANTASY AS POLICY.
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Once you start looking for that phenom, by the way, it’s everywhere.  – L
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Okay, selling THESE at the school plant sale would be a little much.

Okay, selling THESE at the school plant sale would be a little much.

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57 Responses to Principal Writes: Your Children Must be Supervised at All Times

  1. Emily April 12, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    So, if you don’t supervise your TEENAGERS in HIGH SCHOOL every second at the basketball game/school play/Christmas concert/whatever, then they’ll instantly run off and have sex and do drugs, while there are hundreds of other students, teachers, and parents around? Even if that was likely, the adult-to-student ratio at these events is higher, because not EVERY student attends, and many who do, bring their families. Also, on the flip side, what about students who do attend these events alone? Is that no longer allowed? What about events like school dances, where students aren’t meant to bring their parents in the first place? Are those going to be discontinued? This doesn’t seem very well thought-out.

    Another thing I don’t agree with is the mentality that, young people who dutifully march through the adult-approved parade of advanced classes and multiple extra-curricular activities in high school, and more of that in university, while Just Saying No to drugs and alcohol, are automatically destined for success, while anyone who deviates from that path is doomed to fail. It’s possible to do well in school, and graduate into a recession, and have to figure out something else you want to do after the fact (like me). It’s possible to get pregnant, or get someone pregnant, or embrace the stoner and/or drug-dealing lifestyle in your youth, but bounce back and succeed later on (like some of the people I went to school with). Life isn’t an after-school special, and nothing this principal can say, is going to make it one.

    The other thing is, lumping all undesirable behaviours together is disingenuous. Taking a hit of marijuana to see what it’s like, isn’t on par with building a meth lab in your garage, and making out (or even having protected sex–condom, Pill, diaphragm, or some combination thereof) with a high school boyfriend or girlfriend, isn’t the same as getting pregnant and dropping out of school. The craziest thing is, a lot of high schools (although maybe not this one, because it seems to be a Catholic school) provide students with information about safer sex, and links to Planned Parenthood or similar, and maybe even condom machines in the bathrooms like my school had…..and then they vilify students for actually using those resources, if it means they end up having sex before they graduate or turn eighteen. In my experience, universities take a much more sensible approach, by not demonizing sex, but providing information and resources on how to be safe. But, my point is, if you try to turn life into a black-and-white set of “do’s” and “don’t’s,” and act as if there’s a GRAVE PENALTY for doing any “don’t,” then kids aren’t going to take that seriously–they’re going to throw away your well-meaning advice like a Chick Tract on Halloween.

  2. Emily April 12, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    P.S., I forgot to mention the obvious double standard of sex, especially for teenagers. If a guy gets a girl pregnant, the girl often gets most (or all) of the blame, and she has to walk around with the massive scarlet letter that is a pregnant belly, while the guy gets to move on with his life as if nothing happened. As for promiscuity, if a girl has sex with a lot of guys, she’s a “slut” or a “whore,” but there’s no equivalent male term, because it’s not regarded as a bad thing for young men. Anyway, that’s always been an issue, but I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it, even though there’s just so much more that this principal said, that’s completely nuts.

  3. Abigail April 12, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Emily, well said!! A recent Huffpost article by a dad not parenting to the lowest “happiness” denominator, noted that he is parenting for the day when he is no longer around to parent. Our job isn’t to supervise until 18 and turn them loose.

  4. Donna April 12, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    ALL violent crime is down, that includes crime against adults, indicating a downward trend in violence that has absolutely nothing to do with supervision. Further, free range kids exist, in substantial numbers in many areas, and they are not flying off the streets in large numbers as you would expect if there were really a bunch of criminals just sitting around waiting to pounce on unsupervised children.

    While it doesn’t specifically say, I assume based on the references to drugs and sex that this is a high school rather than elementary school. Actually the use of the word “parish” indicates that it is a catholic or episcopal school (or in Louisiana), so I guess that it could encompass all grades. Either way, when exactly is best for our children to start to put into practice the theories we’ve taught them about drugs and sex … when they are still in our home and we are in a position to hopefully intervene/provide guidance BEFORE they careen too far off track or after they move out and we are too far removed from situation to even know about it until they are in way too deep?

    The decisions and influences teens experience in high school just become more advanced as they age. A teen that has never had to confront these situations on the lower level and with a parent to back them up and pull them out if they get in over their head in high school is not going to be able to handle the more advanced skills needed in college and the rest of life. I am not sure why some think that people just magically know all the answers and all the boundaries and have the backbone and strength of character to resist pressure to do the the wrong thing when they turn 18. Do they think those things are conveyed with the high school diploma? We don’t trust your decision-making ability to leave you unsupervised at school for even a minute in April, but come August we’ll ship you to school 6 states away to hang out with 2,000 other people who have also never been unsupervised for a minute and expect you all to make all the right choices.

  5. CS April 12, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Hear, hear Emily! As a teenager in my last year of school you’re so right. It’s always the kids from the families that hover that seem more likely to get into trouble because they want to rebel against that constant surveillance.

    I talk to my mum about helicopter parenting quite a bit and she basically said this: “If you have to watch your teenager constantly, you’ve failed as a parent. Most of your parenting should be done by the time your child turns 16, 17 and then 18.” She’s right. As I’ve gotten older she’s allowed me more freedoms, which includes the freedom to screw up and learn from my experiences. Its’ really important that parents allow their children to do it and that schools don’t impede that important process like so many try to do.

    A funny thing is that in middle school I was told that in high school teachers wouldn’t be “holding [my] hand” when it comes to doing homework, getting it in on time, etc. That seems like utter rubbish now in high school. The teachers hover constantly and pester you about homework, giving you multiple chances to get it in because of the district’s no zero policy. It’s too much trouble for them to even assign homework that because little Johnny’s mum was mad that 16 year old Johnny didn’t tell her about getting homework and subsequently didn’t do it. Therefore, they hand out 0 homework. I’ve had less homework in high school than I did in middle school! I’m taking mostly online classes but in my English class this semester I’ve had exactly zero homework. This is getting a little ridiculous. I don’t mind not getting homework but since I’m going to university I’d appreciate at least a little prep.

  6. Reziac April 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    “Further, free range kids exist, in substantial numbers in many areas, and they are not flying off the streets in large numbers as you would expect if there were really a bunch of criminals just sitting around waiting to pounce on unsupervised children.”

    Indeed, come to farm country, where kids run around unsupervised most of the time, and crime rates are among the lowest in the U.S. If lack of supervision really equaled crimes against children, doncha think it’d be the reverse??

  7. Andrea April 12, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    “Young people, for a variety of reasons, are more likely to believe that sexual behavior outside of marriage is appropriate.”

    Responses? Nope. This dude/chick is a lost cause.

    This isn’t a helicopter “what if something bad happens” person. This is a “keep the kids locked up until they are married” or a “keep them away from that devil music” kind of person. I doubt any rational or logical response will make any difference.

    Also, if parents have to supervise their kids at all times at the age, there are bigger problems at this school.

  8. Dean Whinery April 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Said the principal, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

  9. Uly April 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    Lenore, I read your posts through a feedreader, and those images are huge. I just checked, and the one in this post is, when full-sized – as it always is via the reader – 3264 × 2448 pixels. That’s insane. Can you please start editing your jpegs before you post them? Not only do large images unreasonably stretch the page, but even when they’re resized via HTML (as they are on the post proper) they take a long time to load.

  10. Wow... April 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Uhhmm. my favourite part is the..’for a variety of reasons….sex outside marriage’ part. Couldn’t you just make just the same arguments about interracial relationships? And isn’t that a GOOD thing? I’m not saying that younger teens should have sex…just that the premarital sex argument is kind of…. odd.

  11. Wow... April 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Also, the irony of a Christian school deciding that abstinence-only would mean that they wouldn’t have to deal with pregnancy.

  12. Miriam April 12, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    Everyone that I have spoken with about being more free range, will agree the crime against kids is lower, but they will say it is because kids are supervised all the time and so……… I have no counter to that. My gut feeling is that it is a bad argument. It seems especially insane at a school function. Fear has been carefully sown for years, and we are now reaping the results.

  13. Papa Fred April 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    It does seem to be from a religious school due to the use of the term “parish,” the specific reference to sexual behavior, and the request for parental supervision at a school run event. I would also expect a public school administrator to be more hesitant to state in quite this manner, their concerns about student sex and the need for parental supervision at a school sponsored program,. However, parish is also used synonymously for a regional/county secular geographic/political area in Louisiana and perhaps elsewhere. Yet, there are worriers everywhere.

  14. Alex April 12, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    While I do get annoyed at hearing “the world is not as it was many years ago”, I also get just a little bit annoyed every time someone replies with statistics without mentioning how people keeping their kids locked up contributes to those statistics looking at least a little better than they otherwise would be.

    What follows are not actual statistics but theoretical example statistics and an explanation of how such statistics can be misleading.

    Suppose there are 10,000,000 13-year-olds in a country. Of those 10,000,000, suppose that only 500,000 of them are allowed to walk several blocks outside on their own. Now suppose that 25 of these kids are kidnapped during such a walk (for one reason or another) at some point during the year. Then a statistic that might be quoted is that only 25 out of 10,000,000 (or 0.00025%) of 13-year-olds are kidnapped each year while walking alone. Such a low statistic could be a great argument that walking alone is almost always okay and could look even better than statistics on similar things in the past.

    But if parents follow that advice and then suddenly 5,000,000 13-year-olds are allowed to walk several blocks outside on their own, then maybe 125 of these kids would be kidnapped while walking and hence the statistic would rise to 125 out of 10,000,000 (or 0.00125%). It’s still a very low percentage chance and still makes for a great argument, but it’s not *quite* as good as the initial statistic appeared to be. And I just wish people arguing against “the world is not as it was many years ago” with statistics would acknowledge this point more readily in conversation.

  15. Donna April 12, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    Alex – Why exactly should we argue your point if it is not salient? There is absolutely no basis in the belief that more children walking around alone would lead to more children being abducted. There are already millions of children walking alone who are not abducted. I’m not sure what you expect to change by adding more product to any already overcrowded market, so to speak.

    The number of people with the unique interest and mindset that would allow for such a crime is simply extremely limited. That number doesn’t grow just because you have more children available. Nor is that number reduced by reducing the number of children available on the streets as from-the-home abductions of Elizabeth Smart, Danielle Van Damm, Polly Klaus, Jessica Lunceford, etc. prove. Yes, if more children were out and about, you may have more children killed by just happening to be the person who comes into the path of a random killer, but those crimes – random violent acts with absolutely no purpose whatsoever – are so extremely rare as to be statistically unimportant.

  16. Emily April 12, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    >>Also, the irony of a Christian school deciding that abstinence-only would mean that they wouldn’t have to deal with pregnancy.<<

    Good point. I mean, what if the school takes all these precautions, and everyone co-operates with them, and then there's another Immaculate Conception?

  17. JKP April 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    Alex, I think the argument that Donna made is a good one. All crime is down, which refutes the argument that kids are safer because they’re constantly supervised.

  18. Ron Skurat April 12, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    This may be counterproductive, but it seems to me that we need to begin to call out idiots like this, in the strongest terms. If you sent a note calling him a delusional moron, adding that you’ll supervise your kid to the extent you determine to be appropriate, what sort of retaliation is he really capable of?

    I’ve heard people say, in effect, that confrontation “isn’t nice,” but telling someone how to parent isn’t nice either. First they infantilize teenagers, then they infantilize their parents. When teenagers push back they’re delinquents, but when parents push back we’re merely ‘difficult,’ so it’s on us.

  19. Emily April 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    @Ron Skurat–I think one form of “acceptable” push-back that might be effective, would be if people simply stopped attending school events. I mean, I can see that happening anyway, because it’s hard enough for a lot of families to attend school events in the first place, given parents’ work schedules, kids’ activity schedules (especially if there’s more than one child in the family, and/or the kids are involved in more than one activity each), and the “everyday” things that need to be accomplished–dinner, homework, chores, baths (for younger siblings), et cetera. So, adding in the edict that teenagers have to be supervised 100% of the time while attending school events, might prevent several families from attending. All of a sudden, after-school and evening practices, games, meetings, rehearsals, plays, concerts, et cetera, can’t happen, because young men and women, 12-18 years of age (accounting for late and early birthday kids) can’t be trusted to wait for a pick-up or a city bus home after they’re finished playing in a basketball game, or acting in the school musical, or even wait backstage for their parent, who’s taking the younger sibs for a bathroom run after the play, before going home.

    So, if people can’t meet the principal’s (unreasonable) expectation that high school students be supervised constantly at school events, there won’t BE any more school events, which would mean the school’s extra-curricular programs would suffer, which would ironically result in a lot more teenagers with a lot more free time to engage in sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, since they no longer have their after-school activities……unless the principal expects the parents to do what they did in elementary school, and sit in a ridiculous car line for after-school pick-up, as each student is signed out individually, and then shuttle their kids from swimming, to Scouts, to soccer, to piano, to dance, and so on, and so forth. Even if that was logistically feasible, it would absolutely kill school spirit. I mean, a lot of the fun of high school comes from people coming out to support the SCHOOL sports teams, or the SCHOOL band, or the SCHOOL drama club’s production of, let’s say, Peter Pan (my school actually did that when I was in grade ten, and they actually rigged up cables to make Peter Pan fly). I’d hate to see all of that come to an end, just because the principal has decided that the students at St. Blahblah’s High School should never, ever, ever grow up, or at least not until they graduate (see what I did there?)

    I suppose the activities could still run, even if the principal required each student to be signed out by a parent, but of course, that’d still be impractical (because of work schedules and other siblings), and it’d also be infantilizing. I mean, imagine you’re seventeen years old, and you’re the president of the student council at St. Blahblah’s. It’s been an amazing year, as you and your team have organized and run dances for each major holiday, a spirit week with themed dress-up days and special activities, you raised a few thousand dollars for United Way (or your charity of choice), and because of you, student morale is at an all-time high……but you can’t leave the student council meeting until your Mommy or Daddy comes and signs you out. Or, imagine you’re one of those kids who doesn’t get involved with things, because you figure that there’s no point, because the adults at your school treat you like a helpless baby, so nothing you could do would make any difference.

  20. bsolar April 12, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    You should not be distracted by the principal talking about “young people”: I’m sure his ideology doesn’t stop with young people, but it’s more acceptable to propose it in the context of children.

    His ideology is actually the old medieval idea of universal ordered society, with the division between sheep (the normal population), shepherds (the clergy) and guard dogs (secular power). The sheep need constant guidance and protection, the clergy provide guidance and the guard dogs keep the flock in line according to the shepherd’s wishes and provide protection (be it from external or internal threats).

    This is why the principal’s idea is completely anacronistic: children today should be educated into independence, critical thinking and individual responsibility. If you try to educate them into being sheep in today’s society you are doing them a disservice.

    But I guess old ideologies are hard to let go and typically when facts happen to go against the ideology of choice it’s the facts which get ignored.

  21. Papilio April 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    “The craziest thing is, a lot of high schools (although maybe not this one, because it seems to be a Catholic school) provide students with information about safer sex, and links to Planned Parenthood or similar, and maybe even condom machines in the bathrooms like my school had…..and then they vilify students for actually using those resources, if it means they end up having sex before they graduate or turn eighteen. In my experience, universities take a much more sensible approach, by not demonizing sex, but providing information and resources on how to be safe.”
    That probably goes a long way to explain why the teen pregnany rate in the USA is so astronomically high. Okay, maybe it’s not high for the USA, but it certainly is compared to the rest of the first world.
    It’s *unsafe* sex you should be vilifying, it’s casual sex you should be discouraging – not sex itself.

    “Young people, for a variety of reasons, are more likely to believe that sexual behavior outside of marriage is appropriate.”
    LOL. I know multiple happy, stable, longterm couples who had children looong before they married (if at all).

    By the way, if the writer thinks sex outside of marriage is inappropriate, surely s/he is pro gay marriage? 😛

  22. sigh April 12, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    I was a latchkey kid, and forced to raise myself in many ways starting around age 7.

    I became hyper-responsible.

    A different kid might have gone off the rails and become self-destructive, doing drugs, engaging in risky sexual behaviours, etc.

    But it didn’t happen to me, because I am who I am… pretty sensible. And somehow, the combination of being trusted to supervise myself at a young age and that sensible nature resulted in a VERY mature young person who went off to university at age 16.

    Unsupervised.

    Some of the “best supervised” kids will rebel and become self-destructive, and some of the kids who are given lots of carefully-considered freedom might do the same. The world is what it is, and kids have to learn to deal with it, preferably without parents at their side.

    Be there when your kids come home, is what I would advise. Be there to receive them, to help them process what goes on when they are without you. But don’t accompany them. You’ll only get in the way of their learning.

  23. C.J. April 12, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    Yes because premarital sex and drugs are new things, they didn’t happen many years ago. That’s why my great grandmother got pregnant out of weadlock at 14 in the 1930’s. It is also why my mom’s cousin has major health problems from the damage he did to his body taking drugs 35 years ago. It has been proven over and over again that educating children protects them, not trying to shield them from everything.

  24. Donald April 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    I disagree with this principal that hovering is the answer.

    It’s true times have changed. Drugs and booze are easier to get. 14 year olds and sex is another issue. This is all the more reason for children to LEARN moral behavior. This can’t be learned by locking them in a cage. (Hence the term Free Range) In fact, caging them is often what makes them chase after immoral acts in the first place!

    Actions have consequences. Some of the consequences can be very bad indeed. That’s why kids should start learning this at a young age. It’s better that they learn this when they’re 6 and cold because they couldn’t be bothered to bring a coat than for them to start learning this when teenage pregnancy is an issue.

  25. Donald April 12, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    I enjoy having my kids coming to me for advice. This wouldn’t happen if I locked them up and they spent all of their time thinking up ways to get away from me.

  26. Sneeje April 12, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I guess, one response I would start with is asking for research or evidence that “One reason crimes against children is declining is because parents and others are now more vigilant in watching their children and not letting them roam without supervision. ”

    I suspect that is an unfounded assertion on his part.

  27. BL April 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    @Donald
    “It’s true times have changed. Drugs and booze are easier to get.”

    Easier than in the 1960s and 1970s? Really? I’d like to see some sort of evidence.

  28. Gary April 12, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

    “Young people, for a variety of reasons, are more likely to believe that sexual behavior outside of marriage is appropriate. Parents sometimes appear to believe their children to be safe from such influences just because they are at a parish event.”

    So…who else caught this.

    Throw all the facts at the principal you wish, ain’t gonna change a thing, all your facts are UNGAWDLY!!!!!

  29. Warren April 12, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

    I have had the discussion of crime being down, and had people say it is because of helicoptering parenting. They never do get back to me when I point out that all crime is down. That I highly doubt being overprotective of our kids has caused a drop in armed robbery, break ins, fraud and other such crimes.

  30. JLM April 13, 2015 at 2:09 am #

    You know, sometimes I think these blanket supervision statements are made to try and target the irresponsible non-supervisors, who use events like these to actually ignore their children entirely, and expect others to be responsible for their discipline.

    I see it at functions all the time – kid with no boundaries at home terrorises property/people because mum is having a chat with her friends. Ironically, when others do discipline kid with no boundaries, mum cries foul.

    There is a difference between free-range parenting, and parental insouciance. The former is considered and carefully monitored (even though it looks otherwise!); the latter is just lazy parenting.

    Schools just need a buzz line to make it seem like they are doing it with the children’s best interests in mind 😉

  31. Warren April 13, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    JLM,
    What it really comes down to is school administrators and staff being lazy. Instead of dealing on an case by case basis, for whatever the issue, they just make out blanket/zero tolerance crap.

    Why go to the bother of having to deal with individuals, when you can just put out a memo to condemn them all.

  32. sexhysteria April 13, 2015 at 3:18 am #

    “Young people, for a variety of reasons, are more likely to believe that sexual behavior outside of marriage is appropriate.”

    That is certainly NOT the case today. The mass hysteria over child sex abuse has led to many parents terrorizing their children about sex. The same parents who enjoyed casual sex play when they were young now wring their hands because a classmate or same-age peer might talk about sex (sexual “harassment”) and thereby frustrate the parents and teachers” attempts to mentally castrate children.

  33. JJ April 13, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    Sexhysteria, take a deep breath. You are conflating different issues. Sexual abuse of children which always happened but now is being more widely recognized ( sexual abuse is a bad thing and wider recognition is a good thing) and the phenomenon of a peer talking about sex being labelled as sexual harassment (is that really a thing? If it is a thing I agree its a bad thing) are two very different things. And I can’t see how either one relates at all to “young people thinking it’s ok to have sex outside of marriage”.

  34. MichaelF April 13, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    “providing appropriate supervision”

    All I will say here is – What is appropriate for my child is not what is appropriate for yours.

  35. Wow... April 13, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    @Sexhysteria…Uhh….yes, it is true. Because sex outside of marriage is …. it’s not really a disgrace anymore. That’s all there is to the premartial sex stuff. Just like a lot more people approve of interracial marriage now. Society marches on is all there is to it.

    The actual genuine paedophilia hysteria thing is a different issue.

  36. Richard April 13, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Yup. I saw a stat this weekend that something around half of all kids are born out of wedlock. Maybe one of these days we can stop pretending that sex out of marriage is something unusual and weird?

  37. Michelle April 13, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Alex, the problem with your argument is the assumption that kidnappings, molestations, and such crimes against children are random, happening just because they happened to cross the path of a predator. But the people who commit these crimes are intentional. Usually they victimize children known to them, grooming them. But if they want to grab a kid off the street, you think they can’t figure out where to go? The inner city is full of unsupervised children whose parents are too overwhelmed with simply getting by to conform to the unreasonable demands of overprotection. If we were really causing crimes against children to drop by hovering, why aren’t those criminals just moving to better hunting grounds?

    Ron, if it’s a private school, they could kick you out. In that case, simply telling the principal off might not work out so well (unless you’re someone really important, I guess). You’d have to get enough other parents on your side, or find another school.

    If it’s a public school, I’d be reminding the principal that I graduated years ago, and he has no control over me.

  38. Eric S April 13, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Yes, the world is a much different place now. Because people have allowed themselves to become even more fearful and paranoid, than any other generation. It’s all about human psychology. Because of technology, media, and social media, many people have become the “monkey see, monkey do” people. A very simple experiment to test this on your own. Next time your in a conference or lecture, at the end or points were you feel you agree with, have one or two more friends join you in a standing ovation. You’ll find that almost everyone will follow suit. And most of those people won’t even know why. If you ask them why they stood up, they’ll say the same thing as most, “because I saw everyone else do it”.

    This is the mentality of parents and adults today. Add to that, fear of litigation, sanctimony, and abuse of authority, now you have the world we live in. The world hasn’t gotten worse, people just think the worse more often, and on a much higher degree. A perpetual cycle that makes things worse and worse the more it goes back and forth. The human mind is a very complex and fragile piece of equipment. It can make people believe and do the most inexplicable things. And most people will never be able to truly explain, definitively, “why”. Sheeples.

  39. hineata April 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm #

    Personally, as I have stated before, I don’t believe in sex outside of marriage (wow, when I typed that the auto-correct wanted to put Ebay instead of marriage. …anyone know how sex INSIDE Ebay would work?😊). So I sympathize with a principal of a parish/Christian of some form school wanting to do his best to see it doesn’t occur. However, I fail to see how over- supervising teens at a school event would help. If they don’t have the moral understanding or desire to abstain, they’ll just get to it later.

    @Richard – no, not unusual or weird, just wrong. By many, maybe most, of the world’s moral codes, not just Catholic or Christian. Anyone stop to think about how many of the world’s problems would be solved if we waited for sex until we married, then stayed married to the same person for life? I confess to being quite jaded – I see the economic and emotional results of parents not coupling, uncoupling and recoupling with monotonous regularity in my area. I think if parents have money or social status the economic results might be different, who knows, but certainly emotionally it’s tough on kids to be caught between parents etc.

    I like sex, but it’s hardly on the same level as eating or breathing as a human needs level. I think we would survive as a species if we didn’t engage in it until we were in a lifetime relationship 😊.

    @Papilio – hmm. ..😊. No comment this time, already said my fill on this thread 😀. But out of interest and sort of OTT, is Corrie ten Boom still known of in the Netherlands?

  40. anonymous mom April 13, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    I’m assuming this is much more about liability than safety–as is the case with most of these policies. The administration is afraid that unsupervised teens will engage in behaviors that will get the school in trouble. (And, it’s not like it hasn’t happened. Your kid gets drunk or has sex on school grounds, and parent sues the school.) So, they will not let them be unsupervised. But, instead of being honest, that this is about financial and legal liability, they say it’s about the safety of the teens, because who can argue with that?

  41. anonymous mom April 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    @Alex, Europe has seen drops in crime–including crimes against children–more dramatic than the drops we’ve seen in the U.S. And yet their children are allowed significantly more freedom (and they lock up significantly fewer people).

  42. Kim April 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    The clue was in the note. Stop going to “parish events” and the problem will be solved.

  43. Jason April 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    If more people started leaving their front doors unlocked, I would expect to see a rise in break-ins. Many crimes, including sexual assaults, are spontaneous crimes of opportunity. I’m guessing there are many more people who would grope a child in the street than would break in and kidnap a child from his/her bed.

    A few years ago, I asked my friend rhetorically why there was an apparently disproportionate number of news stories about young Latinas being chased, fondled, propositioned, etc. while walking somewhere. A week or so later, we were driving through a certain community and noticed how many kids were walking places. Of course, their parents are in many cases unlicensed and/or have no access to a car, so the kids have to walk whether they want to or not.

    More kids out and about means more kids to grab if the urge strikes you. Now, these areas also tend to have more adults hanging out with nothing to do and nowhere to go. But, does this mean more people likely to grab a kid or more witnesses to deter said grabbing? Judging by the news reports, I would say the former.

  44. Warren April 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

    Jason,
    Please try to stay on point.

    The drop in crime is across the board, property, to violent, to sex crimes are all down.
    If it was just crimes against kids, I would concede and say yes the overprotective nature of parents is the cause. But that cannot explain the drop in fraud, the drop in robberies, car theft, rape, murder and all the rest. It is evolution and progress.

    We all strived to create a safer world for our kids………………………..WELL DUDE IT IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. anonymous mom April 13, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    @Jason, as others have noted, sexual assault is generally not perpetrated by strangers. Is it a crime of opportunity? Yes, but the opportunity tends to arise within established relationships. The streets are not filled with strangers eager to fondle a passing child.

  46. bsolar April 14, 2015 at 4:30 am #

    @Jason, “A few years ago, I asked my friend rhetorically why there was an apparently disproportionate number of news stories about young Latinas being chased, fondled, propositioned, etc. while walking somewhere. A week or so later, we were driving through a certain community and noticed how many kids were walking places. Of course, their parents are in many cases unlicensed and/or have no access to a car, so the kids have to walk whether they want to or not.”

    If the reason were lack of supervision the harrassments would stop once in a safe environment. Let’s get some facts: http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/existeayuda/tools/pdf/factsheet_eng.pdf

    > “Latina girls reported that they were likely to stop attending school activities and sports to avoid sexual harassment (American Association of University Women, 2001).”

    > “According to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (2009), 77 percent of the Latinas surveyed said that sexual harassment was a major problem in the workplace.”

    > “Immigrant Latina domestic workers are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation because they depend on their employers for their livelihood, live in constant fear of being deported, suffer social isolation, and are vulnerable to their employer’s demands (Vellos, 1997).”

    > “Campesinas or female farmworkers are 10 times more vulnerable than others to sexual assault and ha- rassment at work; among all the burdens they bear, these are often the heaviest (Lopez-Treviño, 1995).”

    TL;DR: Get your facts straight. Latina girls and women are more likely to get harrassed across the board, even in supposedly supervised and safe environments like at school or work. This means lack of supervision is not the problem.

  47. Emily April 14, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    >>We all strived to create a safer world for our kids………………………..WELL DUDE IT IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<<

    Warren, that's true, but I have to wonder if anyone thought about what they wanted that "safer world" to look like. A world where kids can walk to school, the park, the library, the swimming pool, et cetera, without an adult? Fair enough, but that can't happen, because look, another child in another state/province got kidnapped, and it was on the news last night……or, it's the anniversary of another missing child. So, up with security measures, up with minimum ages for basic childhood rites of passage, until we feel "safe enough," except that's never going to happen, because the much more common headline of "Child walked to and from school alone, AND NOTHING HAPPENED" isn't going to make the news. So, with our increased access to skewed, sensationalist information through the media, even when we aren't specifically looking for it (articles in the newspaper, teasers for the news on TV and on the radio, "click-bait" articles on the Internet, news stories shared on friends' Facebook pages, et cetera), people aren't going to feel safe until nothing ever goes wrong, ever, and that's an unrealistic standard to set. So, children are signed in and out of school, religious education, and extra-curricular activities like checked baggage, all men are treated like pedophiles, and volunteering at the YMCA requires a security detail, all in the name of "creating a safer world for our children." The paranoia feeds on itself in a perpetual cycle, with nobody really feeling "safe," so the powers-that-be keep upping the ante.

  48. Justin April 14, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    Our society is filled with politically correct cowards. This principal is just one of thousands of them. The best way to combat their insidious fear and control-based tactics is to ignore them completely. If you don’t give them any airtime, they cannot get their precious control they crave like zombies crave human brains. Ben Franklin warned us about this…. you trade liberty for security and you wind up losing both. Also – the world is no MORE or LESS safe than it was in the Bronze Age. That whole argument is fallacious BS and only a whimpering simp of a moron would believe it. But that’s what political correctness does – it warps your thoughts and clouds your mind. To all my parents out there: raise your kids how you want to raise them. If you want them to go sledding in the winter, let them. Stand up to any PC bully or fear-monger who would try to put you down. It’s about time we took the national discourse back from these a$$holes. They ruled the 1990s and early 2000s. Are we going to let them have the whole century?

  49. Elizabeth April 14, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    There is one aspect of the principal’s statement I have to agree with “supervise your children at all times”. Not for the reasons he states but because far too many parents are simply NOT doing their jobs and their kids cannot behave properly in public.

    They’re not teaching their children manners, respect, self worth, self discipline or self control.

    What few people today, yes, FEW people today either understand or accept is that you cannot legislate morality. You have to train your children in the way that they should go. But the moment I use the word “train”, I get a lot of self righteous, indignant responses telling me that “children aren’t animals” and they shouldn’t be “trained” etc.

    Well. Yes. They are animals, they aren’t born knowing right from wrong and how to behave and must be trained in order to grow up to be productive citizens. The Free Range parents are doing just that: training their children up in the way they should go.

    I don’t blame the cops for what they did exactly…just the manner in which they did it. I will cut them some slack, very little. They are conditioned to see young children all alone as abandoned and neglected because, let’s face it, that’s the case 99.9 % of the time.

    Free Range parenting used to be the norm, now it’s the exception.

  50. Alex April 14, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    I know I’m late getting back to you guys regarding my earlier post, but I only check this site 1-2 times per week (sometimes not even that).

    First I’d like to note (in case some didn’t observe it) that in my hypothetical statistics the population of kids increased by a factor of 10 (from 500,000 to 5,000,000) while the number of kids that were kidnapped while walking increased by only a factor of 5 (from 25 to 125). This demonstrates that I recognized there is not just a fixed probability that a kid gets kidnapped no matter how many kids are walking; it shows I recognize there is not a linear relationship between the number of kids walking outside and the number of those kids who are kidnapped. As for the comments about kids being kidnapped by family, yes, of course that’s more common and should be an issue of more attention than kids kidnapped by strangers (especially relative to the amount of attention each usually gets in the media, schools, and communities right now), but it’s not the focus of my post. (Technically, I didn’t even say the people who hypothetically kidnapped these kids while walking were strangers.)

    Now maybe the ratio of my increase factors 5 and 10 is still too high. Perhaps with 10 times as many kids on the street there wouldn’t be 5 times as many kidnappings of walking kids. Maybe there would only be 2 times as many kidnappings of walking kids. Maybe it would only be a mere 6% increase. Yes, the population of people around who would commit stranger kidnapping crimes (and even non-stranger kidnapping of walking kids that they couldn’t otherwise kidnap if the kids weren’t given that freedom) is limited. But still, I don’t think literally all of them are already enacting kidnappings. I do think that with more kids on the street there would be SOME increase in the overall number of kidnappings. And the theoretical existence of such an increase is why I believe the current low kidnapping statistics in the US sound just a little better (and by better I mean lower) than they would actually be if the US were more free-range.

    Now since I still think the statistics would be greatly in favor of (semi-)free-range even after the proper adjustment is made, acknowledging my point in conversations with anti-free-range people could go one of two ways (or maybe more than two ways). (1) They are more receptive to believing the statistics would still be good because they see that I recognize they wouldn’t be quite as good as they are now. (2) They don’t pay attention to my message well and they mistake it as evidence they should keep their kids indoors.. though it would be as stupid as someone deciding not to claim a prize because they learned the prize value decreased from $200 to $100, I could definitely see someone reacting in way #2, unfortunately.

    So I’m willing to concede that I’m not actually good at swaying people to my side. But I continue to believe (rightly, imo) that the kidnapping rate per child would increase slightly if more of those children were given more freedom. I just believe that even after that increase it’s still generally better to give kids more freedom than they have now.

  51. JKP April 15, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    Alex – I understand the point you’re trying to make, but I still think the logic behind your statistical evaluation is flawed.

    If we were examining a chemical reaction instead. Say you had enzymes breaking down a certain substance. If you have already maxed out the capacity of the enzymes, it doesn’t matter how much more of the original substance you add, the number of enzymes you have is still the limiting factor and the output will still be the same.

    The assumption in your statistical evaluation is that the number of available children is the limiting factor. But that is just not true. There are plenty of available children for a predator who really wants to abduct one. They’ll even abduct a supervised child by waiting until the parent looks away or taking them from their bed in their own home while they sleep.

    The limiting factor is that there just aren’t that many predators who want to hurt a child, and even fewer of those who would act on that desire. So you can add more input in the form of more unsupervised children, and like an enzymatic reaction, the result is still limited by the number of active predators, not the number of children.

  52. L. Mitaro April 17, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    One reason crimes against children is declining is because parents and others are now more vigilant in watching their children and not letting them roam without supervision.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAA!!! Sounds like he’s parroting the nonsense the NCMEC spews 24/7 just to get renewed funding.

  53. Warren April 17, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    If it were only crimes against children were the ones declining to levels not seen in decades, then sure we could concede that it is due to vigilant parents. That would make sense.

    This is just not the case. All crime is declining. All crime is at levels lower than ever. This is not because of parents, it is the evolution of society, and technology.

    Every generation that has gone before us has wanted to make a safer world for their kids. Well guess what, we are doing it. It is here. So why is it so hard for people to accept?

    It is easier to live in fear of the same boogeyman that scared our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, than it is to swallow that inbred fear and kick open the door. When you have generations of people telling you the horror stories of the past, and for the most part they are not even real stories, it is hard for those with limited courage, and little conviction to stand up and say “Enough. I know you think it is a scary world, but it is not.”

  54. Amanda Matthews April 18, 2015 at 1:06 am #

    “I am withdrawing my child from your school as I do not wish for him/her to attend a school where the principal pushes his beliefs about marijuana, alcohol, and premarital sex onto the students.”

  55. JP Merzetti April 18, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    I wanna put on my best Cagney accent.
    “Children”, eh?
    How about robot bodyguards for all. Robocops. Flak jackets.

    lord, how we butcher the hell outa language.
    How about every breathing American citizen remaining a designated “child” until they’re old enough to make their first million, preferrably gained from some fantastic Wall Street derivative, which produces no jobs and invests in no future. (except designated “child’s”)

    Constant supervision. Enhanced by technology. Orwellian adventures. Roll over Huxley, and give Stalin the news. I know I’m barking up the same old tree, but I’ll say it once again. What kind of society claims freedom for some, and not for all?
    “Yeah….you’re free, kid. As long as you’re supervised to death.”
    Supervised……as if you’ve been de-camped straight into Federal detention.
    Long ago and far away Elvis sang about suspicious minds. We all knew what he was talking about, then.
    That song was rather popular – made some bucks.
    Nothing like the paranoia now being milked from a supercow of fantastic productivity. The milk of human stupidity.
    Moo, baby.

    In 1968, as a teenager-at-risk, I recall hearing John Lennon’s take on the Cultural Revolution which at the time, was ripping the guts out of what was left of China’s common sense. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, it resonated…..
    “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
    You ain’t gonna make it with anyone, anyhow….”

    Right on, John.

    Same old question: Where are the adults in the picture?
    Where, indeed.
    The same old deflationary process hauls kids backward by the collarbone. 18 is the new 6. Welcome to the brave new future. The whole notion of freedom purchased with common sense. Sense has now become uncommon? (or purchased with high-priced currency)

    When I was 16, I was free. I had no-one over me. I was answerable to myself. I stayed drink, drug and smoke-free until I turned 22. Bully for me. It was no struggle. The reason was simple. I was raised that way. I was NOT uncommon.

    Do kids now raise themselves? Have we propagated some new kind of human animal that resembles a barnyard livestock bovine kind of mindless and senseless dependent non-thinking helpless creature?
    Trained like a showdog, corrected like a lab rat?

    Who are the helpless in this picture? Those in positions of supposed authority reigned and chained by policy.
    The “dopes” walk among us unfettered.
    Dead eyes – with no vision. That do not see anymore. Dead hearts that cannot feel what so obviously is the most human and natural yearning for elbow room, a little bit of free air to breathe. A little bit of respect.

    So play with the numbers. Until they’re all 100% perfect, small minds will play upon the national hysteria for guarantees, wrarantees, securities – dreaming of utopia.
    Late-breaking news: a teenager is not a child. Teach, parent, and guide accordingly.

  56. Wow... April 24, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Dear Principal

    While we’re discussing unlikely-but-could-maybe-happen risks, I think you have missed one factor in your careful planning. I think you should hold parenting classes, even if you don’t agree with teens having sex. It’s irrelevant whether they have sex or not – a Virgin Birth could happen, right?

    Thank you,

    A concerned reader

  57. Claudia April 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    In my experience, it’s the kids who are constantly hovered over by their parents who are the first to cut loose for the sex and drugs the moment they’re off the leash (such as at university) because they’ve not been trusted to make the right decisions on their own, and then they make the wrong ones as there’s finally no one to stop them.

    Remember, your kids will have to be independent some time, and the sooner you do that, the more likely it is they’ll be able to start making choices in a context with less drugs/sex/alcohol or whatever you’re worried about and the more likely they can approach those things in a mature and measured fashion when they’re ready, rather than ‘YES! Now I can get high/laid/drunk because no one’s watching!’