Readers: If you take a look at the 300+ comments on the Anderson Live Facebook page about my “I Won’t Supervise Your Kids” class in Central Park — the one where I invite kids ages 8-18 to gather and figure out how to play (a lost skill!) while I go sip a latte — you get a pretty stark look at the way many Americans think about the world today. I.e., kids are never safe. Parents should never let their kids be on their own for a second because they are surrounded by danger. And if it’s not a pedophile or a murderer out to get them, why then the kids will break their arms or legs or skulls in a playground accident and no one — no one else on the planet — will help them. Not even if they’re in Central Park, surrounded by literally tens of thousands of people.
What never ceases to stun me is how bleak this conviction is. It’s like the country’s basic belief in humanity was swiped in the night — and no one even noticed! What a heist! All our optimism about our kids and our communities has been replaced by a twisted, vile vision of helplessness, anger and depravity. Come to think of it, that must be why Good Morning America started its piece about the same topic — unsupervised play — with a clip from Lord of the Flies. Nowadays it isn’t even considered odd to make the leap from “children playing outside together” to “children murdering each other.”
God forbid they showed a clip of kids playing hopscotch.
I keep trying to think of an apt analogy. What if every time someone on a talk show said something like, “Air travel is safe,” the show rolled footage of 9-11 and the host said, “Oh yeah, REAL safe.” And the audience clapped and cheered because THEY care about safety, and clearly those people on those planes were NOT safe, which just proves that anyone who says people CAN be safe in any similar situation is WRONG. Danger anywhere, anytime is proof that danger is everywhere ALL the time.
It’s an absolute distortion, but it is seen as the truth, as these rabid comments about my class suggest. (And here is a piece about how incredibly SAFE America is at the moment — safer than when we parents were playing outside as kids, unsupervised.) I cribbed the rabid comments below from the first page of Anderson Live that loaded.
Interestingly: Anderson himself seemed to be very much on the SIDE of Free-Range Kids. But of course his show had to “balance” me with someone convinced that kids are under siege, and the siren song of fear was too strong for the audience (or at least these commenters) to resist.
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* How come folks like this are not being charged for child endagerment and negligence?
* She should be locked away.
* Children should be supervised or watched after at all times. There’s too many bad things happening to children nowadays.
* Who is going to call Child Protective Services??????????
* Let’s all call!!
* I’d rather call the police after I whooped her ass, sorry about the violent thought, but the kids need to be safe, whatever it takes!!!
* This is an open invitation to all pedophiles and potential kidnappers. Why not just throw up an ad on craigs list, free for all in the park with unsuspecting kids!
* Plus, what is an 8 year old and their friends going to do when little Bobby falls and breaks his arm and needs to be rushed to the hospital. Or little Sally wanders off when she sees another friend from school. I am sure Lenore isnt going to be so confident when she arrives to one less child!
* Never ever ever leave kids out of your reach. This woman should be arrested. Do you know how many pervs, sex offenders, murderers, gov want kids…. Never let them go until they are ready to graduate college. Literally never ever let them go.