Why I Can’t Watch the News

Hi Readers — Here’s a “news” story that goes on for over three minutes (a lifetime in TV!) about a 5-year-old who was dropped off by the school bus at the wrong time, with no one to pick her up.  I’m very sorry it happened but I’m almost sorrier that this is what passes for news: Oh my God! Something went wrong and a child was involved and it was confusing and annoying!  How can we LIVE in a world like that? Alert the media! 

Me, I’m glad to live in a time that is SO SAFE that a story where nothing terrible happens (but could have) is considered news. And I’m also glad to have readers like you, who provide me with material AND brilliant commentary. So here goes! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I  think you’ve run stories like this before, about a kid dropped at the wrong bus stop or at the wrong time.  Here’s another.  The twist is that it’s happened to the same kid two times.

While this sort of thing certainly shouldn’t happen, I have to say I don’t much care for the tone of this whole story.

1: The first question they ask the mom: “What do you think could have happened to her?”  Sure, there are a million awful things that could conceivably happen.  But none of them are particularly likely.  What’s the point of listing them all, except to stoke up irrational panic?

2:  The second time this happened, the girl approached a stranger for help.  The story reacts as if this was a terrible thing, but it was exactly the right thing for the girl to have done under the circumstances.  What are the odds that a passing stranger picked at random is going to be a monster?  Vanishingly small, that’s what.  So small, it makes getting hit by lightning seem like a clear and present danger.  If a stranger had approached her (as happened the first time), the risks are greater, though still small.

I’m reminded of another story about a lost child who had been so indoctrinated with stranger-danger fear that he hid from the people searching for him.  He was lost for days.

3:  The whole story acts like it’s some kind of miracle that the girl survived this ordeal.  Not once, but twice!  In fact, her getting home unharmed is exactly the expected outcome. – Reader Ron

Lenore here: Yup. I wish I could embed the video here, but it doesn’t have the embed code, so you have to go watch it to hear the tone of the reporter’s voice. It is brimming with shock, anger and a sense that it’s only sheer luck that the girl is still among the living.

Girl let off at the bus stop by mistake!

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