header image


Readers — When kids are going through their scared-of-the-dark phase, they see the chair and think it’s a monster. And when adults are going through their “Everyone is out to get our children” phase —  (From The Daily Mirror.)

Children were evacuated from a swimming pool amid fears of a pervert in the changing rooms – only to discover the alarm was caused by a false leg.

Staff spotted a foot sticking out from under a cubicle as primary school pupils got changed after a swimming lesson.

… But when [teachers] opened the changing room door they saw the suspected pervert was a prosthetic leg innocently left by a disabled man while he went for a swim. 

[The head of the school said,] “One of the members of staff had seen it, and we quickly moved the children out, and everything was dealt with in accordance with school policy.”

Best comments (from this site, which picked up the story):

“…everything was dealt with in accordance with school policy.” They have a school policy that says if you find a prosthetic leg you should assume it is really a paedophile and evacuate the pool?!

If I saw someone’s leg sticking out from a cubicle my first thought would be to see if they were alright, they might have collapsed.

Typical “Knee-jerk” (sorry) reaction that is happening too often today. In the past, the pool staff would have checked the foot before getting the kids out!

Not the actual suspicious leg. But you get the idea. (Photo from Clints Work)

Not the suspicious limb in question. But you get the idea. (Photo from Clints Work)

Readers — This note comes to us from Nathalie Delage up north, where “Canadian Tire” apparently sells paranoia, too! – L.

Dear Free Range Kids: Have you seen these baby carseat videocameras?  They stream live video from the backseat to a monitor you attach to your windshield like a GPS.  I wonder what exactly a parent needs to worry about while their child is 2 feet behind them? I especially love the tag line: ”Watch. Concentrate. Smile, you and the people around you are safe!”

This thing normally retails at $169.99, but can be yours this week at Canadian Tire for the great price of $99.99.  Wow!  I just watched the video testimonial from a mom. She actually says: “I can see her at all times.  And it’s so much safer.”

Really? Safer than what? The mirror they used previously that was just as unnecessary?

“It’s hard to keep track if she’s sleeping or if she’s playing with her toys.”

And you need to know this because…?

It truly is  insane that parents live by this new “Keep your eyes on your kids at ALL times” ideal.  I work in a doctor’s office and last week a mom came in with her newborn in his “bucket” seat.  After her appointment she asked me to come and watch him because she had to go to the front and get her boots.  That’s about 30 feet!  I could see her the whole way.  There was NOBODY else in the entire office except her, me and the doctor.  BUT inside our office there is a door that connects directly into the drugstore next door (very convenient for patients).  She couldn’t leave her sleeping baby there for 4 seconds because, as she said, “I know, but someone could come in from the drugstore and kidnap my baby.  You have to be careful nowadays, it happens.”

Can you imagine what the odds are that the planets could have aligned in almost every galaxy out there in order for that to happen?  A kidnapper/pedophile would have to be at that EXACT drugstore at that EXACT moment at the EXACT spot where the door is and stumble upon a baby unattended for 4 seconds, notice this, run in, grab the seat and run through a drugstore with said seat in hand to escape? To his waiting car? And get away?

Maybe I’ll invent a portable camera that you can attach to whatever the baby is in or on, with a monitor that goes around the parent’s waist so they can then feel safe to go to the closet and get their boots. Eureka, I’m rich! - Natalie


Dateline: Montreal — and talk about scary: A middle-aged woman was seen offering a 13-year-old girl a lift. But wait! It gets worse. Possibly the SAME woman also recently offered a ride to a 10-year-old.  Can you believe it? How brazen! As if she’s just some nice lady and it’s cold outside!  She didn’t drag the kids into the car or insist they get in, but still — isn’t it pretty obvious she’s a pedophile on the loose, or part of the white slave trade? Why ELSE would any adult ever be nice to a child?

I wish I could embed the video news report (because this sure IS news), but I can’t, so here’s the link. It explains that warnings have been sent out to all the schools, day care centers and stores in the neighborhood where this would-be unspeakable tragedy occurred.

That’s good, but I still don’t recommend watching this story right before bed, or you will have nightmares. (Especially if, like me, you are a middle-aged lady who likes to be nice to strangers. Even young ones.) – L.

The possible perp drives a grey car, and you know how scary those are!

Hi readers — I thought this was a fantastic post by a dad mistaken for a pedophile. My blood was boiling on his behalf.  BUT…wait’ll you get to the guy’s conclusion. It does not sit well with me. Wonder if it makes you squirm, too. – L.

P.S. This story got sent to me last week, though now I see it’s from about a year ago. Anyway, still curious as to your reaction.

Yikes! Is that a male with a female child !?!

Yikes! Is that a grown male with a female child?!?


Hey Folks! Encouraging news in our war on predator panic! Over in Australia, on Virgin, a man named Johnny McGirr, 33, was seated next to two unaccompanied boys, aged about 8 and 10. The stewardess made him move because that’s the airline’s policy: Women can sit next to kids, men are apparently just too likely to pounce.

McGirr — a fireman — was understandably embarrassed. He blogged about it and now he’s everywhere in the Australian media today, saying: ”[The attitude of the airline] is ‘we respect you but as soon as you board a Virgin airline you are a potential paedophile’, and that strips away all the good that any male does regardless of his standing in society, his profession or his moral attitudes.”

He also had a new suggestion for Virgin, to keep people safe:

No male should sit next to anyone. A spare seat will be allocated next to any male at any time to ensure the safety of women and children.

Virgin — Jeez what a name for this story — is now reconsidering its policy, the way British Airways did a few years back. (Remember this incident? And its outcome?) But perhaps even better is that the Sydney Morning Herald reports more than 44,000 readers nationwide responded to an online poll about  the policy, and 87 % agreed it’s  ‘‘sexist and suggests all men are potential pedophiles.”

They sound like Free-Rangers!  - L

Maybe all children are not in danger from all men at all times?

Hi Folks — Here’s another little story that reminds us how  Worst-First thinking has become de rigeur when it comes to kids in the company of adults: A young Teach for America teacher took a student out for a hamburger and was immediately reprimanded by the school.

Yes, rules are rules, and he probably should have signed a lot of forms first, but sometimes — weirdly enough — a moment comes up that is not pre-scheduled and pre-approved and pre-notarized. It’s what we used to call “spontaneity.” (Now we call it “actionable.”) So off he and the kid went, got burgers and came right back.

The child’s mom sounds livid. As reported in the Houston Chronicle, she said, “He walked right out the front door with my child…This was not a role model.”

A better role model would NOT take an interest in her son?

I GET that we are terrified of adults grooming our kids into Sandusky  submission. The Miramonte stories shake me, too. But do we really want to treat every teacher-child interaction as prelude to perversion? My mentor, social studies teacher Genevieve MacDougall, took me out of high school for a few days, with my parents’ permission. She wanted me to drive her from Chicago down to Southern Illinois to check out a one-room school house she was thinking of buying. She paid for my meals and my room at a little hotel, and it is still one of the fondest memories of my life. I dedicated my Free-Range Kids book to her!

I doubt she’d be allowed to do that today. As the teacher in the hamburger story was quoted as saying:

“I care for my students and am trying to make a difference in their lives,” he said. “I try to build positive relationships with my students, and in that effort, I bought a student in my class a hamburger for lunch that we ate back at the school with others. I regret this mistake, but I am proud of YES Prep, and the work that I do there. I am glad that Yes Prep investigated the situation and found no reason that I should not continue to teach my students.”

As parents, we must (I say it every time this topic comes up) teach our kids to recognize, resist and report abuse. But we can NOT treat every teacher who dotes on our darlings as dangerous. Let’s bring that pendulum back to the middle, where it belongs. — L.

Dear Readers:  As the new year begins, I’m looking back on things I meant to comment on and here’s a piece from November that gets my goat. It’s an essay by a mom who declares she would like to be more of a Free-Range parent, but she simply cannot. How come? Because she recently heard the story of an elementary school principal in some city not her own, who secretly videotaped boys using the bathroom.

Now, this sounds like a disturbed and disturbing guy. Yecch. But the mom strikes me as disturbed as well. She seems to be saying that since sometimes some people in the world are bad to children, she simply MUST assume the worst first. And hence she will never be “Free-Range.” As if…Free-Range parents posit there are no bad people in the world?

That is not our position at all. In fact, our position is that since there ARE rotten people and situations — always were and always will be — the best thing we can do is prepare our kids to be street-wise, confident and self-reliant.

The other thing the writer seems to believe is that one single incident is enough to indict the entire human race. That’s a problem I encounter all the time:  The belief that ANY travesty, ANYWHERE in the world means that all bets are off EVERYWHERE, for EVERMORE, for THEIR kids. It is overreacting in the extreme and somewhat self-absorbed, too because it boils down to: I don’t care if the odds are a million to one. If something is going to happen to anyone in the world, surely it will happen to MY child and therefore it is MY job to be constantly on guard duty. (It also confers superhero status on the parent.)

Finally, while I think the principal sounds like an absolute creep, the essayist’s description of his crime seems to be that he videotaped the boys, period.  This is an invasion of privacy and certainly revolting. But let’s not conflate it with molesting or rape.

Yes, let us teach our children to recognize, resist and report abuse. But no, let’s not look at every adult as a probable pervert, and every moment as quite possibly our children’s last. Free-Range parents don’t clip terrible stories from the newspaper as proof that our kids need our constant supervision.  We figure that if those terrible stories make the paper, they must be  rare enough to be noteworthy. In other words, we try to keep things in perspective. That is indeed a Free-Range trait. — Lenore