WALKING IS LESS DANGEROUS THAN NOT WALKING by Michael Lewyn.As readers of this blog know, children who walk more than a foot or two from their parents risk being detained by police, and even prompting a visit from Child Protective Services..Big Brother justifies these extraordinary actions in the name of safety. Bureaucrats claim that if children are on their own, they will be hunted down by sexual predators. In fact, the risk of children being attacked by such strangers is extremely low. But this reality changes few minds: plenty of people say that any risk is too much risk..To counter this argument, it’s time to start pointing out that the opposite is also true: Imprisoning children in their parents’ vehicles creates its own risks, both to children and society as a whole..One obvious harm, of course, is to children’s health. The less children walk, the less exercise they get. One recent study of Toronto children showed that children who were allowed to go places by themselves were 20 percent more physically active than other children. Less exercise often means less healthy. So American children’s failure to walk may be one contributor to obesity and the other health problems related to a sedentary lifestyle..Second, parents who drive their children expose them to the risk of injury and death from car crashes. An American child is far more likely to die from a car crash than from an abduction by a stranger. Over 600 children die each year in car crashes and hundreds of thousands more are injured. By contrast, 100 children per year are abducted by strangers. Of those, 90% come home..Third, it is not even clear to me that unsupervised children are at greater risk of criminal victimization than heavily supervised children, because children risk becoming victims even when they’re with their parents. After all, most American violent crime is committed against adults — only 4.6 percent involves children. This should not be surprising. Since robberies are more likely to be committed by strangers than any other violent crime, and since adults carry more money than children, adults are far more tempting targets. So if any risk to a child is too much risk, children should stay away from their parents. Yes, this is obviously preposterous. But that’s my point. Try to avoid all dangers, even the least likely, and you end up a little crazy..The possible intervention by Child Protective Services (CPS) creates a fourth risk for children. Suppose CPS discovers that Mom and Dad allowed Junior to escape one time too many, and dispatch him to foster care. What a disaster! Children are twice as likely to die of abuse in foster care as in the general population. But even when CPS and criminal investigations do not lead to family breakup, the investigation itself may be traumatic. [Lenore here: To prevent this, support the Family Defense Center in Illinois. They are doing great work fighting CPS overreach!].Finally, society as a whole suffers when children are driven everywhere. Every mile logged by parents creates air pollution, and air pollution itself creates health risks for adults and children. Children living near freeways are 30 to 40 percent more likely to suffer from asthma..We all want to reduce the risks our children face. But reducing them when they are already minimal can lead to the kind of unintended consequences that actually make kids — and families — less safe. Let’s embrace rationality and send our kids outside again. It’s not perfectly safe, but it beats keeping them immobile. – M.L.