Stunting Our Kids With “Safety”

Why do we treat our tweens like toddlers? Because the rules say we have to.

The other day my son had to leave middle school early for the big day: Getting his braces. I planned to meet him at the orthodontist near our home and wrote a note asking for him to be excused at 1 oc’lock. Naturally, I left phone numbers where the school could call me or my husband to confirm this wasn’t some scam on my son’s part, and I left my e-mail address, too.

My son brought the note to the principal’s office where he was promptly informed: No dice. Your mom, or dad, or babysitter (!) has to personally come fetch you.

So fetch my 12-year-old I did. But when I got to the school office, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why do you need me to escort him? You let him leave at the end of the school day by himself.”

At first the secretary laughed. “Tell me about it,” she said. “When my son needs to leave school early I have to go get him, too, and he’s 17. A football player! He should pick me up!”

We had a moment of solidarity and then I muttered, “What a ridiculous rule.” And something snapped. The secretary was no longer on my side.

“It’s for his safety,” she admonished me.

“Why is it safe when he leaves by himself at 3, but not at 1?”

“The school is responsible for him,” she clipped.

“Yes, but I’m willing to let him be responsible for himself. That’s why I wrote the note.”

“He could have forged it,” she said.

“That’s why I included my phone number.”


“He could have anyone answer the phone for him.”

“But I left my husband’s number, too,” said I. “And an email address.” Would any kid line up two adult voices willing to cover for him, even as he hacked into my e-mail? If he’s that smart, he doesn’t need school.

“Why you wouldn’t want to ensure your son’s safety, I don’t know,” the secretary said, now cold as a shrimp cocktail.

“But we were just talking about how this isn’t about safety! Like when you have to go pick up your 17-year-old football player!”

Actually, I left that last little bit un-exclaimed, because I had already turned an ally into an enemy, just by poking a bit behind this scrim of “safety” that really has very little to do with safety, and very much to do with schools not wanting to get sued.

Not that I blame the schools. If a kid leaves early and gets hit by a car on his way the orthodontist (who, by the way, only puts on braces during school hours in order to leave after-school hours for all the follow-up appointments), maybe some parents would sue, even if they had asked the school to let the kid leave on his own.

But that’s when we have to start thinking about changing everything we’re up against. A society that encourages and rewards crazy law suits. Schools that treat growing children like babies (even 17-year-old football players). And especially adults who use the word “safety” the way 2-year-olds use the word “No!”

It is a word that stops all rational conversation in its tracks. “Safety” brooks no give-and-take. It is the trump card we play when we don’t want to have to bother thinking a little harder about which rules really make sense, and what effect they’re having on our kids, whom we’d really like to see grow up and act responsibly already.

So my son and I headed off to the orthodontist together, but while he was within sight of his school he sprinted a full city block ahead of the middle-aged lady schlepping behind him. Seventh graders know they don’t need their moms to pick them up from school. It’s humiliating!

 Maybe someday the schools will figure that out, too.

48 Responses to Stunting Our Kids With “Safety”

  1. Annika December 5, 2008 at 3:46 am #

    That is RIDICULOUS. I don’t even treat my toddler like a toddler.

  2. allison December 5, 2008 at 4:08 am #

    Thanks for such a sensible site.

    When I was a teacher, so much of what happened was driven by CYA. I was taught that I could be held PERSONALLY responsible for a kid’s injury during class time. The fear this inspired in the whole school system was so detrimental to the classroom environment.

    I think it’s important to call CYA when you see it. Perhaps it could take the wind out of the “safety” trump card. (If you’ll permit me to mix my metaphors a bit :) If we were honest about which rules were actually for safety and which were for legal cover, then we could have a more honest conversation.

  3. Denise December 5, 2008 at 4:30 am #

    I am so with you on this one.

    My daughter has started middle school and they are no longer allowed to sit where they want.

    They have to stay with the kids in the period they were in just before lunch. They are not even allowed to sit next to each other, but must sit at least one seat away from another student.

    When asking the principal about these rules she has said that it was for “safety” in case they had to evacuate the school quickly, it would make it easier to figure out if they had everyone.

    Um. yeah. The teacher isn’t there…and you just know all the kids are going to stay with their class in an emergency.

    Holy cow, the kids aren’t even allowed to wear their coats to class or carry a backpack…because of safety.

    Give me a break. CYA at it’s finest.

  4. carol December 5, 2008 at 5:02 am #

    My son rides a city bus to school. It’s a five minute bike ride to the bus stop, a 20 min bus ride, and a 5-10 min bike ride to the school from the bus stop he gets off at. I don’t have a car. If I had to pick him up when he didn’t feel well it would take me an hour or so to get there counting everything. He’s in high school. They just have to hear me say “yeah, send him home.” on the phone and they send him home. Thank goodness.

  5. clarkbeast December 5, 2008 at 6:43 am #

    I’ve really been enjoying your blog since a friend directed me here a few weeks ago.

    Rules like that one are made to be challenged. I’d be interested in what you might be told if you went higher up the ladder of authority than the secretary.

    And I’m also curious what the rule is in the school where I teach. I may have to do some digging.

  6. Tari December 5, 2008 at 7:06 am #

    Gee and we couldn’t wait unti lwe were seniors in HS so we could sign ourselves out (no notes required) and leave campus for lunch or during a free period. In a car usually driven by some other non-adult classmate. I rode a bike to school throughout most of HS. I wonder if I’ll even be allowed to check my kid out when she’s old enough for school?

  7. Jennifer December 5, 2008 at 8:12 am #

    That is really amazing. Reading this post jogged my memory, taking me all the way back to first grade. I recall that all of us kids were instructed to tell our teacher at the beginning of the day if we were staying in school for lunch or going home. On days we went home for lunch, we could just WALK home on our own and were trusted to return. I was 7 years old. My how things have changed – and I wouldn’t say for the better!

  8. Tieg December 5, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    Today I watched you dr phil episode. I think this is great I am 17 years old and raised myself. My mother was a drug attic and my father worked overtime. I wa completly capable of doing anything that was a necicity in my life by the age of six. why i dont feel all kids should be able to do this I feel you child should be able to do what izzy can by the age is 8 and if not then your child is maturly behind. given a perfectly normal child. I was given all the trust and free range possible at six and never did i ever feel threatend. I feel I have more thngs to worrry about now at 17 then I did at 6. I think it is time america stops hovering over their kids and give them some freedom like other countries. This year I visited belize and not one child that I saw was incapable of caring for themselves.

  9. kherbert December 5, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    In my district Middle, JH, and HS students that can provide their own transportation (walk, bike, or drive) to where they are going can be released on their own.

    I teach in Richmond Texas – there is NO public transportation. There are a bunch of TK’s that walk to my elementary school from the Middle, JH, and HS after school to ride home with their parents. They have each also walked over to meet their parent to go to Dr. appointments and such.

    Since they live out of zone or would have to cross a 6 lane interstate and walk about 10 miles to get home, walking home isn’t an option. (We are somewhat rural and our HS has a HUGE catchment zone)

  10. Angeline Piotrowski December 5, 2008 at 9:10 pm #

    My son attends preschool on an elementary school campus. Twice a day 2 days a week I pass through the school to convey him in and out of the classroom. One day a person stopped me and said that I needed to start checking in every time at the office to pick up a “Visitor” sticker. I went to the office and asked if they had some kind of permanent pass that I could keep (as that makes good common sense) instead of signing in on an unsupervised clipboard and drawing one of a hundred blank, unpersonalized stickers out of a basket twice a day. “No,” they said. You have to check in at the office.

    The next time I arrived at school I went into the office. Nobody was there. I wrote “Fusilli Pasta” on the sign in sheet and selected a blank “Visitor” sticker from the basket and put it on. When I passed back through the school I went back into the office and pointed out that the sign-in sheet is unsupervised, I can obviously write any name I choose on the sign-in sheet, and I can reuse, pass-on, or lose my pass outside the school for any stranger to find and use. So there appears to be little point to this security sham except to create an inconvenience for the parents of the school.

    The next day I, and all preschool parents, received lanyards with numbered, permanent passes attached. I now have a pre-approved, unique safety pass that can wear every time I go to school. It makes so much more sense.

  11. Cynthia December 5, 2008 at 9:28 pm #

    The school system thinks they own people’s kids once they are enrolled. When I was in HS (about 10 years ago), my parents had to provide a reason for checking me out, and if the school didn’t like the reason, it was “unexcused”. Sure there are bad parents, but in my opinion, a parent has the final say on what is a good reason for taking his or her child out to school, and shouldn’t have to give reasons to the school, much less submit them for approval.

  12. MadWoman December 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm #

    That’s just ridiculous! I would think he’d be MORE likely to get into trouble or get hurt when he leaves at 3 than any earlier in the day. After all, there’s 10 times the people milling around at that time of day. Just silly.

    I was walking back and forth to school on my own by the time I was 6, and yet now find myself living in a society that shelters our 12 year olds like this.

    Can I have a time machine?

  13. Naomi December 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

    I’ve been teaching since 1989, many grades/cities/public and private…and can name a dozen parents who would blame the school if their kid skinned his knee on the way to the orthodontist. Parents expect the schools to deal with rude phone calls their middle school kids receive from other students in the evenings or cyber-bullying that happens from home computers. Crazy overprotective parents have caused these ridiculous rules… and these parents are why I don’t want to teach anymore.

  14. Janni December 5, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    Safety is used as a cover for all sorts of ridiculousness. I was complaining about the silliness of having antibacterial wipes available for supermarket carts, and the cashier laughed, but then sobered and said, “But when you think about it, it makes sense, for safety,” and like you say–there was no arguing beyond that; no talking about relative risk or whether we really need protecting in this particular case.

    And yet–we’re a society that’s afraid to eat broccoli and tomatoes for safety. But we get behind the seat of a car every day, and are perfectly comfortable with much higher risks.

    We worry about safety, but we do it with this odd sense of blinders on, or don’t do the math on it or understand statistics and relative risk, or something.

  15. Elizabeth Fuller December 6, 2008 at 12:33 am #

    How’s this for ridiculous “safety”: My son started kindergarten this year, and the kids at his public school are not allowed to run on the playground (even the kindergartners). If they do, they get a time out. Sorry, but when I was a kid, playgrounds were specifically for running around. Am I missing something here?

  16. Peter December 6, 2008 at 12:47 am #

    I lived about 13 miles west of my high school, and I had a track meet after school at a school about 20 miles west of my school (yes, I lived closer to the opposing school than to my school). To travel between the schools, the bus drove *right by my house*. So I asked if the bus could drop me off at my house on the way home. No dice, said the bus driver. District policy said nobody was allowed to be dropped off anywhere – what if I was dropped off in the wrong place? What if I was lying? What if I went missing? The school would be responsible.

    So I glumly watched my house go by after the track meet, and my parents had to drive to my high school to pick me up (I was in high school, but not yet old enough to drive). Needless to say, we were all annoyed. So stupid…

    And by the way, this was over twenty years ago!

  17. Invisible Flan December 6, 2008 at 1:02 am #

    Great post! I love it!

    I guess I’ll share my story too…

    I’m currently a college sophomore, and I was raised practically in complete seclusion until last year, when I began college.

    Thanks to my parent’s desire to exercise “safety” for seventeen years (I love them dearly, but by god, the situation was ridiculous), I had no idea how to do anything. I could barely buy things for myself, I had no idea how to take a city bus, I was frightened to death to walk down a street by myself in broad daylight, thanks to the rapist/murder/hoodlum spheel my mom gave me all those years, and so on.

    Thankfully, with a little freedom, I’ve gotten past those hurdles and I’d say I’m almost to the level of my peers by now.

  18. Myrna December 6, 2008 at 1:16 am #

    2 of my 13 yo son’s friends just got suspended for leaving school – AFTER school WITH a note from their parents. They went to a parent-approved store, got something to eat, came BACK to school. The rules at the schools are based on them not wanting liability AT ALL. I am happy to say at my daughter’s school, all I have to do is write a note saying she has to go to an ortho appointment during the day and she turns it in, hops on her bike, goes to her appointment and back to school. That’s the way it should be.

  19. NJMom December 6, 2008 at 2:30 am #

    A few years ago, here in NJ, a school district was sued because a child–a walker–was dismissed after school (it was a half day) and was hit by a car while walking home alone. The parents sued because they claimed they didn’t know about the half day and if they had they would have been at the school to meet the child and prevent the accident, etc., etc.

    Since then, NJ schools must have extremely clear and precise dismissal procedures with signed waivers, etc. for every student. It’s the above sort of incident, plus all the other stories in the media, which fuel the many ineffective and even silly safety rules. And I have a feeling that despite the signed waivers and written plans, if a bus fell into a gorge or a child was badly hurt while walking home from school, those documents wouldn’t stand up in court. But at least it makes the schools and parents feel better.

    Schools simply can’t protect all children from all dangerous, unhealthy, or unhappy situations before, during, and after school, even though parents want them to. It is time for school districts to take a stand about and clearly define the role they should play in nurturing our children. At the moment public schools are asked to feed, babysit, counsel, build the character of, develop self-esteem for, prevent all bad things from happening to, and, oh yeah, educate our children. It is time for public school districts to unite against our lawsuit loving culture and simply do their common sense best. And parents, get a clue.

  20. prfx December 6, 2008 at 2:54 am #

    Lawyers fault. Normal people are scared to death of litigation.
    It’s a sad truth in our culture.

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  22. lwayswright December 6, 2008 at 3:40 am #

    I agree with your post in some regards. I have an 18 year old senior in highschool who I still have to sign permission slips for in order for her to watch a PG movie in the classroom, however at her IEP meetings she is “legally responsible” for her own education and is the one who decides if I even attend the meetings, and signs all the paperwork herself.
    On the other hand, I have another child who is irresponsible and I can hardly trust to be let out of my sight a lot of times. I constantly worry he won’t be making responsible choices if left to his own devices. When kids reach a certain age, and have driver’s licenses then yes they should be allowed to sign themselves out of school during the day for appointments etc. I, however, have never heard of a school that allows kids in middle school, or even some highschools, sign themselves out without a parent or guardian…especially middle school. I do see both sides of the coin here. The same goes for open and closed campus during lunch. Here in PHoenix most campus’ are now closed till the end of the school day because of all the teen car accidents that were happening with kids racing to lunch and trying to be back in a 20 minute time span. That is safety! And it has saved lives here! So, that’s my two cents worth. Better safe then sorry I guess!

  23. alyson December 6, 2008 at 3:54 am #

    I was going to say it’s all Ferris Beuller’s fault (Bueller?), but then I remembered that the also managed to masquerade as the girl’s father…

  24. Kim December 6, 2008 at 8:27 am #

    Here is the stupidest “safety rule” I’ve ever heard. My son, who is 12 and in grade 7, came home with a notice from school today informing the parents of all gr. 7 & 8 students that hugging is no longer permitted on school grounds — only for gr. 7 & 8 students. They are to observe an “elbow room” rule from now on meaning students are not allowed to be closer in proximtiy to each other than their “elbow distance”. Students in these grades are also not permitted to congregate in “groups”. The only reason given for this stupidity is that “when students form groups like this, it indicates that troube is afoot”.

    I am astounded by this and hope that I’m not the only parent who feels this way. This means that if my son sees another student who is upset or sad, he cannot comfort them with a hug without being given detention or worse. If he sees a student who is injured he cannot console them with a hug & must locate a teacher to take care of it. What is this world coming to when our children are not permitted to show compassion & love in the most kindest way in their own school??!! I’m furious and intend to contact the principal on Monday morning. I’m sure my attempts won’t get this rule changed but feel very strongly that I have to let the school know how I feel.

    I told my son to do what HE thinks is right. If he feels a hug is exactly what someone needs then go for it and to hell with the consequences.

  25. Kim December 6, 2008 at 8:29 am #

    sorry, that sentence at the end of the first paragraph should read “trouble is afoot”

  26. Amy December 6, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    This is just ridiculous. I love your website, and I have since you first started this project. I encounter people every day who gasp at the fact that I allow my son (11, in 7th grade) to walk home alone from school, to walk several blocks to various parks and basketball courts and pools, and go to the movies alone, etc. We live in Chicago, but in a relatively safe area (though quite congested with lots of traffic) and I trust that he knows what to do and when to ask for help (he has a cell phone he carries with him, and I work from home).

    I think back about my own childhood — I would walk three blocks and across a busy street when I was FIVE to get milk and bread for my mother, and I was babysitting my brother and sister when I was ten (they were 2.5 and 4.5 years younger). And walking home from school? When I was six and seven, I walked *two miles* home and no one thought anything of it. And I’m not even that old (35), so this is the 70s and 80s we’re talking about — not the stone age.

    This overprotectiveness hurts our kids more than it helps them. I think children who grow up in urban environments learning how to be independent and self-sufficient will be much better off in life than those who are overprotected in the name of “safety”.

  27. Crystal December 6, 2008 at 11:54 pm #

    I was waiting for a bus the other day. I was on one side of the street and my 10 and 8 year olds were on the other. I waited until there was no traffic and then called to them to cross. The family with me at the bus stop attacked for being a horrible mother. They said I should die and the wife threatened to beat me up. They proceeded to tell everyone on the bus what I had done. They wanted to report me to DSS for not going across the street to hold their hands and cross them. What a world!

  28. Uly December 7, 2008 at 2:18 am #

    “and the cashier laughed, but then sobered and said, “But when you think about it, it makes sense, for safety,” ”

    You mean the safety that comes when we breed antibiotic-resistant germs? That safety?

    “Here in PHoenix most campus’ are now closed till the end of the school day because of all the teen car accidents that were happening with kids racing to lunch and trying to be back in a 20 minute time span. That is safety! And it has saved lives here!”

    Sounds to me like what they *really* needed was a longer lunch break. 20 minutes? C’mon!

    “They wanted to report me to DSS for not going across the street to hold their hands and cross them.”

    Let them. DSS is gonna laugh in their faces. I’m amazed you crossed them at all! I’d’ve left them to determine for themselves when it was safe or not, really.

  29. Dick Tschingadero December 8, 2008 at 12:37 am #

    In an odd twist to this tale…..

    A few years back when my son was in HS, he decided he did not want to stand for the pledge of allegiance anymore — he didn’t believe in it. A silly thing to me, but to him it was important. He needed a signed permission from from me and I told him I’d write him one if he wrote me a 500 essay on why he felt he shouldn’t have to do it. He wrote a very well thought out and cogent essay. I wrote him a permission slip.

    About 5 weeks into the following semester (fall) I got a call from the school saying my son had been suspended. Apparently he had “caused a disturbance in the class” by not standing for the pledge (and the teacher giving him a hard time about it.) I asked to speak to him and the school official informed me that they had sent him home.

    I was livid. A kid has to have a signed permission slip to not say the pledge, but they suspend him and send him home without notifying anyone. What if he had been suicidal? What if I was the type of parent who would beat the kid for getting kicked out? And, he already had a signed permission slip.

    As it stands, I was not concerned about them sending him home unattended, but was baffled by the overall logic.

    When we met with the team of principals, and I asked them about the whole permission slip thing — reminding them that they had one on file from the previous year — they said I had to do a new one each year. In answer to why I had to have one at all, they said “because some students may come back later and say we didn’t afford them to opportunity to say it and could sue us.” (??!!!!!!)

    They referred me to the district website for the complete rules. These stated that no child should be coerced into saying the pledge and said nothing about a permission slip.

    So they were more worried about a student suing them for infringement of rights than a parent suing them for releasing a child without permission.

  30. Wendy December 9, 2008 at 7:34 am #

    My son’s (age 11) school has a rule that a parent has to walk up to the sidewalk and escort their child across the parking lot. I have refused. I was talking to my son the other day, explaining that I totally trust his ability to navigate the parking lot.

    We both laughed when I said “if you get hit by a car, so be it.” We laughed, because we were on the same page, understanding that I meant if it were meant it to happen, it would happen if I were there or not.

    Having already lost one child to cancer, ppl oftentimes ask if I am overprotective of my remaining son. Quite the opposite. What are the odds that tragedy could strike twice?

  31. Pam December 9, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I taped the Dr. Phil that you were on just got to watch & as a teacher, I have to say I AM SO GLAD THAT THERE ARE SOME NORMAL PARENTS LEFT!! Thank you for your blog & for being REAL about letting kids grow up!

  32. TransitionGirl December 9, 2008 at 3:35 pm #

    Like my mom always said. “You gotta let them go, than they’ll come back. The more you try and control them and hold them closer, the more they’ll fight to leave.”

  33. Anna December 10, 2008 at 1:40 am #

    I love your website! I agree with you too, some of these “rules” just don’t make practical sense. I have encountered a similar situation with my daughter who is also in middle school. We also live in a large city and often use the bus or subway. But because of the same rule, my daughter has to be personally picked up, signed out by me to use the same bus route she would otherwise be taking home without me if she were leaving school 30 minutes later when the school day ends. When I was her age, I remember being allowed to walk home from school to meet my mother or father who would be taking me to my appointments as long as the school got a phone call or note from one of them. My parents taught me about personal safety, being observant of my surroundings, and good common sense. I rode my bike or walked alone to and from nearby friends’ homes, afterschool music practice, etc…all in the days before cell phones. When I went away to college in a larger city where I initially knew no one, I felt very comfortable living independently. I knew how to find a safe place to live, travel around the city safely, knew where to go for assistance whether it was about classes, getting a car repaired, finding healthcare, etc. I have my parents to thank for that, teaching me how to be independent kept me safer as both a child and adult than chauffeuring me everywhere or being a personal bodyguard for me ever would have. Protecting our children also means teaching them about personal safety, learning to be independent, not holding their hands everywhere they go until they are 18. Sheltering a child too much just creates an adult without the life skills to function as an adult.

  34. Jamie | WiredParentPad December 10, 2008 at 6:17 am #

    There’s safety and then there’s paranoia. In a society where the major media outlets feed our fears with more and more negativity, it’s really not surprising at all that we have all of these silly rules and guidelines. The schools our kids are in are pretty good, though they do get a little wacky sometimes.

  35. stacey smith December 10, 2008 at 7:05 am #

    i guess i find this a bit annoying because i feel like your asking the school to do extra work for you. it is their rule. if you left all these numbers and emails, then i guess they should call around and find you to make an exception to the rules. is it really that upsetting? are we suppose to be so overly concerned about a 7th grader being humiliated by their parents? their 13, their humiliated by their parents all the time.
    i no longer teach since i am a stay at home mom, but i’m just thinking of the woman who worked in the school office. they had a million things to do every day. i imagine this note coming in being nothing other then extra work for a parent that doesn’t want to have to come pick their kids up. maybe your child is really responsible, but they have to base rules on all the children there. so if some can’t be trusted to leave alone, it wouldn’t be fair to let the responsible children do it.

  36. Wally Glutton December 12, 2008 at 5:42 am #

    Recently there was an article in a local (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) paper about some parents who were upset that their children had to use public transport to get to their shops classes once or twice a week. I though I would share a letter to the editor written by a 12-year-old student in response to this situation:

    “I am a 12-year-old-girl who, for the first time, has shop class. Every Day 4 on the school cycle I take the bus with my friends to get there. When I read the article in which parents thought their kids should be taken on a school bus to shop class, I laughed. I can see where they’re coming from but it doesn’t make sense. Yes, I’m sure they care about their kids’ safety and they have the concern that some kids will skip class, but you have to trust your kid to do the right thing. If you don’t think your kids can make it on a bus by themselves, you are basically telling them you don’t trust them and you don’t think they can handle doing things themselves. Sure, there are bad people out there, but they are everywhere.

    You can’t hold your kids’ hands every minute of their life — they have to learn to do things themselves. If you don’t think your child can figure out when to get off a bus, print them a map that says where to go. They probably have friends who have ridden the bus and maybe they can sit beside them and tell them how it’s done. It’s really not that hard. I do it almost once every week and I have to get a transfer. I haven’t gotten lost yet. If you’re with a bunch of people, one of them must know where he or she going, so follow that person.”

  37. Tracee Sioux December 12, 2008 at 11:36 am #


  38. Molly December 13, 2008 at 1:32 am #

    What’s sad is that most of the cases that actually win are completely legitimate cases of negligence; famous cases like the McDonald’s hot-coffee case, for instance. It *sounds* frivolous, but in fact the woman was horribly burned and only sued for the cost of her medical treatment, and the coffee was scorching hot because McD’s had decided they’d rather save a few pennies that way than make fresh pots more often, *even though people had been horribly burned in the past and they knew all about it.* It was terrific, horrible negligence.

    Yet the real problem is that lots of companies can’t afford to defend against frivolous suits even if they’re sure to win, so they have to be overcautious (like this)—and many companies can afford to lose, so they keep doing incredibly negligent things.

    So, if you ask me, the problem is the costs of litigation—including defense—not the simplistic “the problem is lawyers,” as someone said above. Everyone hates us until they need us. And let’s not forget that “lawyers” were behind Brown v. Board of Education, and Lawrence v. Texas, and Loving v. Virginia. Lawyers have done a lot of good in the world.

  39. Brigit December 13, 2008 at 7:26 am #

    The McDonald’s lawsuit was overturned by a higher court.

  40. Molly December 13, 2008 at 8:23 am #

    The extremely high punitive damages awarded by the jury were overturned; the medical bills, decision, and a lower set of punitive damages were allowed.

    Juries aren’t, if you ask me, the best people to be choosing numbers.

  41. Janni December 15, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    so if some can’t be trusted to leave alone, it wouldn’t be fair to let the responsible children do it

    It would totally be fair–let the responsible children be responsible, assume all children are responsible until they prove otherwise, and if they do, impose restrictions only on the specific irresponsible ones.

    Makes perfect sense to me–more sense than holding everyone back to the level of the least responsible child in the class. Of course being responsible should be respected and rewarded, and one shouldn’t be punished because of the behavior of a few others.

  42. madwaxer December 23, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    schools should have legal documents detailing what services they offer and clearly state they do not cover any extra services not requested by parents. that way parents who want their 17yr olds to be supervised in walking to be bus can pay for it. it’d end a lot of frivolous lawsuits and make parents who request it think hard when they get the bills especially now that costs are going crazy everywhere. when i was a kid in high school in French class i was being an ass my French teacher would walk about talking as usual like nothing was wrong then launch a fast finger-tip tap onto the top of my head. it was a painful way to remind us of her rule she wrote on the board at the beginning of each semester. yes i know that is not allowed in most schools in the US but it kept all students in check. . maybe the lack of discipline and an upgrade to the teaching syllabus is long overdue.

  43. 3Princesses1Frog February 15, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    I’m so glad I’ve found your blog; OMG, it’s like you’ve been reading my mind! I have this discussion ALL the time with my friends, as I’m the most “lenient” of parents I know.

    Let your child walk to school by HERSELF? You bring on the glares and stares of parents who you know will be talking about you behind your back. You let them have a sleepover in the BACK YARD? Well, I could go on and on…and will enjoy reading your entries!

    It’s so true what you say about the schools; ditto for the school bus drivers in our area. Our bus driver refused to let my second grader off the bus if I wasn’t standing there, so I had to call and pitch a fit at the bus company to let them know that she knows her way home!

  44. Bethann Moran May 1, 2009 at 1:00 am #

    I need a little help. Our Home and School Association would like to install a fence around our play ground. We are a small (134 student) private school, in a small town and we are located outside the city in a very quiet area. I need some research support to debunk the notion that a fence will keep our children safe! If anyone has information on this please send it my way. Thank you, Bethann


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