Why We Believe the World Is Crawling with “Super-Predators”

Readers — This is a great Slate article summing up what the 24/7 news cycle is doing to us as people, parents and policy-demanders. It concentrates on the work of Mary McNaughton-Cassill, a professor at the University of Texas–San Antonio and “leading researcher on the connection between media consumption and stress.” When bad news rushes into the home with graphic images and breathless reports of horror day and night — and we tune in — we come to believe that things are completely terrible. So, writes reporter Jesse Singal:

[H]istory — even recent history — is rife with examples of society making bad choices because of pessimistic hysteria. One can make a convincing case that belief in the now-debunked notion of “super-predators”contributed to the rise of draconian sentencing laws, for example, or that the recent spate of parents being arrested for letting their children play unsupervised stems from the false but persistent idea, blown up by coverage of high-profile kidnapping cases, that the world is crawling with kid-snatching strangers. And then there’s the example that probably screams loudest in the liberal imagination: George W. Bush drummed up support for the war in Iraq,which at the time of the U.S. invasion sat at 75 percent, by painting a world in which Al Qaeda and its radical affiliates posed an existential threat to the Western world.

So when people overestimate the world’s awfulness, there do appear to be real consequences. And while, as has eternally been the case, there are certainly pockets of the planet that really are getting worse on a daily basis (Syria), on a broader level there’s solid evidence—perhaps gathered most comprehensively bySteven Pinker—that the world is in the midst of a decades-long trend of actually becoming better: safer and healthier and more humane. We just have the bad stuff shouted into our ears louder than ever before.

Yep yep yep. This is what we’re up against — a population literally brainwashed to believe that everyone (especially kids) is in constant danger, generally from strangers. The remedy for anyone wishing to feel less paranoid is to turn off the IV drip of terror known as “the media.” But how we can calm down those who believe the media is just giving us a slice of everyday life? I’m open to any and all suggestions, always. – L.

 

They're out to get our children!!

They’re out to get our children!!

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51 Responses to Why We Believe the World Is Crawling with “Super-Predators”

  1. Karen August 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    I think it would go a long way if we organized to lobby local mayors and city councils to instruct the local chief of police not to arrest parents without more definite evidence of danger or harm.

  2. David D August 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Like ‘meat-less’ Mondays, we can have ‘TV-less’ Tuesdays.

  3. forsythia August 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    This worldview has also turned police, who once were sworn to “protect and serve” to become a paramilitary force with extrajudical powers to murder with impunity. Because terrorists and bad guys, that’s why.

  4. Nadine August 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    South Carolina Mom Calls Cops On 15-Year-Old Son After Finding Porn
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/07/mom-finds-porn-on-tv_n_5659487.html

    Just this morning i read above article and wonderd if it was the result of the idea that any man is out to get your lil baby. Even if that young man is your own son.

  5. lollipoplover August 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    The remedy is for children to be granted freedom from anxiety-inducing adults who groom them to believe the world is too dangerous for them to play without fearing the boogieman

  6. Holly K August 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    It’s interesting that the article asserts that the reason parents get in trouble for letting their kids play at the park without adult supervision is because of the risk of them being kidnapped. If that’s so, it strikes me as another example of victim blaming (preemptive though it may be), akin to teaching females how not to get raped instead of teaching males not to rape. That’s not to say that kidnapping is as prevalent as rape, by the way.

  7. Jen August 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    i think we need to share more stories of free ranging gone right. So that parents can find likeminded adults who want to range happy, capable, responsible children. What if we were to post a story of capable kids doing normal kid-things for each story of something going wrong? What if we were to post 10 stories? 100 stories. . .eventually, we could turn the tide!

  8. Jamie August 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    My friend Erin is trying to get something very like Jen’s idea off the ground. Let the #sanemomrevolution commence!

  9. Joel R August 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    Your sentiment is well-taken, Jen, but the real solution would be to counter-program, if not completely replace, the fearmongering stories with free-range stories like the ones you recommend.

    Unfortunately, there’s not much of a market for them. Can you imagine: “In tonight’s top story, a 10-year-old walked down the street to a park where he played with a number of other 10-yea-, 9-year, and 8-year-olds before heading back home for dinn- I’m sorry, we have breaking news… Reports are coming in that there was also a 7-year-old who apparently rode his bike to the same park and also engaged in constructive play with the older children. We’ll update you further as this story develops…”

  10. Warren August 8, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Ever heard of Judge Dredd?

    Arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced on the spot. In reality, how far are we from it?

  11. oncefallendotcom August 9, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    Interestingly enough, the term “super-predator” referred to kids growing up to be stone cold killers rather than sex offenders.

  12. no rest for the weary August 9, 2014 at 3:02 am #

    Unhooked myself from the IV drip years ago, never looked back.

    My 13-year-old son just remarked how creeped out he is going to his US grandparents’ house where they have CNN going all day long on the TV. “All those stories of people killing people, and stuff.” He said it makes him feel like things are very dangerous in the world. “That’s why I don’t watch the news,” I told him. “Because the goal of the news is to keep people scared, so they’ll feel worried, and want to watch more, to get more information. The news shows make money on advertising. It’s all to sell advertising. And then, all the while, the things that are actually dangerous to us have nothing to do with one person out to hurt someone else. They have to do with all of humanity collectively doing things that are harming the very life systems on the planet. But you don’t see much of that on the news, because it doesn’t sell advertising.”

    Here’s hoping he’s actually listening to me.

  13. no rest for the weary August 9, 2014 at 3:05 am #

    Also, I said, “It’s very unlikely anyone in the world means you harm. In fact, there are so many people rooting for you, wanting the best for you. People who love you. Focus on that.”

  14. Jen August 9, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    @ Jamie
    Brilliant idea. I am now following Erin and will definitely tweet often. my 8 year old is embarking on many new adventures. . .sadly not many of her friends are allowed that much freedom. I sweat it out (because i do read the news and absorb the fear whether i want to or not) but she seems to relish each new adventure and comes back happy, confident and bursting to try more new things.

  15. JP Merzetti August 9, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    Jane Jacobs referred to “eyes on the street.”
    Now, we seem to choose to define that as the “wrong” sort of eyes.

    Making childhood a kind of prison sentence is counter-productive, and where is the outrage against this?
    As if….as adults, we are powerless to deal with the kind of world we have created. Instead of fighting back against its stupidity.
    We treasure freedom – implicate it in the most basic of tenets of our national identity – yet we deny those basic tenets to children (and this used to not be the case.)
    Their freedom – in our free society, was one of the things we celebrated,championed.
    And now they are left out of the equation.

    The fact remains: children in societies far less free….have more basic freedoms. How can this be?
    One reason is that many of those societies do not have the blanket media messages constantly running their lives.
    They are not “rich” enough to financially support a constant nanny state.
    So they just get on with it….and children live children’s lives.

    In this way, our affluence becomes the shackle around small ankles.

    We have not designed our public domain to be child-friendly.
    We have done the exact oppostite….and now struggle to deal with those consequences, after the fact. Bad planning.

    And we have become far more fearful. Adult-sized imaginary bogeymen lurk in every corner and shadow of that fear.
    But is this not where the public realm becomes truly public?
    Any community has the combined force that no single household possesses.
    Yet somehow….it is as if we’ve forgotten that….forgotten our own strength as a people.
    And instead, become scattered, shattered and made impotent by an infotainment industry that plays upon us like a bad medicine show.

    And why so powerless to just switch off? The dial and the screen bring constant bad news. Overload.
    (Like Joni Mitchell’s “priest with a pornographic watch”) – we can’t look away.
    Yet indeed we must – and bring good judgement back into the picture.
    Otherwise, what sort of future generations do we raise?

  16. MichaelF August 9, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    It’s the old mantra of “if it bleeds, it leads”. Media is a business and if they don’t prey on your fears, how else are they going to get a majority of people to watch? The teasers of “see our top story X at 11:00!” usually means 11:20 so they get you to watch most of the news.

    Whenever I see super predator I think – SHARKNADO!!

    I’m just glad my boys are overcoming the hype, from last year when my 9 year old wouldn’t walk down 4 houses down the street because “something might happen” to last night when in a busy drive-in he brought his 4 year old brother to wash his hands in the bathroom and came back unharmed. No complaints, nothing, he just did as I asked. Mostly this comes from cutting the TV during the week, and I listen to radio news so he hears little of it, and when he does he at least asks about it.

    I’ve taken all the free range and just immersed the kids in their own independence and kept out the chaff, let them go at their own pace. Its always nice to see I am not the only one outside of my neighborhood doing this.

  17. Beth August 9, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    There’s a huge difference between the all-encompassing term “the media” and the 24/7 news cycle, and I don’t think it’s necessary to refer to all television as an IV drip, nor treat those who like television in general as stressed out fear-mongerers. Television is just as compelling a medium for storytelling as anything else, but most of that is not on CNN (except for their excellent series this summer, The Sixties), Fox News, Criminal Minds, or Law and Order SVU. I, for one, can watch The Andy Griffith Show on TVLand without once worrying about the safety of my children!

  18. SteveS August 9, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    I agree that the media’s obsession with sensational, violent news is a cause, but it is also the tendency of people to internalize every story and think that it could happen to them. While it could, the odds may be astronomical that it won’t. This seems to have always been the case. I don’t remember a time when “it bleeds it leads” wasn’t the case. What has changed, is the amount of news we get.

    I agree that people overestimate danger. The solution would seem to be doing research and finding out the facts, but I doubt most people will do this. I know a few people that won’t let their kids go over to another kid’s house if the parents own firearms. Never mind the fact that there are only a handful of these kinds of accidents every year. The same parents don’t question other parents about any of the other things (such as improperly stored chemicals) that cause more frequent injuries.

  19. gap.runner August 9, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    The reason that things like plane crashes and child abductions make the news is that they are so rare. We regular readers of this site know that it is much more dangerous to put your child in a car and drive somewhere than to let him walk to school. But even when a car accident makes the news, you generally don’t see interviews with distraught parents or neighbors along with photos and videos of the child. Those stories are made to tug at the heartstrings, and we tend to remember emotional events better than dry reports about a car crash on the highway. The nightly news leads with teasers about keeping a child safe from potential kidnappers but you never hear a teaser about a neighborhood car crash.

    I like the idea of positive stories mixed in with the ones about busybodies calling the police about a kid left in a car for 3 minutes. Lenore is a beacon of sanity, but it would be nice to see that she is not alone.

  20. Papilio August 9, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Can’t you people just read the newspaper (and skip the drama stories)? CNN sounds like a huge waste of time, kind of like watching commercials all day, mixed with Hollywood movie trailers (loosely based on reality, okay, I’ll give them that).
    I remember listening online to some show Lenore hosted (instead of the regular host) and happened to hear what I thought were commercials because of the sensationalist, enthusiastic tone, like a dog that found something disgusting to roll over in. (Since English is my second language, it’s very easy for me to just tune it out when it doesn’t sound worth listening to.) Then I heard the word ‘Syria’ and realized it was the news…

    @JP Merzetti: “children in societies far less free… have more basic freedoms”
    Could you name an example please? I’m not sure I get what you mean.

  21. no rest for the weary August 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    What he meant was, “Children in countries will a far lower per capital income enjoy more freedom.”

  22. no rest for the weary August 9, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    *per capita*

  23. Reziac August 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Know what makes kids grow up to lack those “pangs of conscience”?? (Assuming a more or less normal kid, not someone wired to be a sociopath)

    It’s real simple: Never having to take risks, make decisions, or suffer the consequences when they exercise poor judgment. If nothing bad ever happens to you, why not do anything that comes into your head??

    And I haven’t watched the TV news in about 15 years, and even then I was already quite tired of the hype. The news item that turned me off for good had to do with the crash of a commercial airliner:

    Tens of thousands of this particular model of commercial aircraft had been in service for over 40 years, yet in all those years and many millions of air miles, only EIGHT had crashed. That’s a stellar history for machinery of any sort, and is a safety record above average for any commercial aircraft.

    How did the TV news paint it?

    “THIS model of aircraft has a HISTORY of crashes!!”

    Yes, that’s how the new anchor emphasized it, as if this was a particularly unsafe aircraft. (This was on a major news station in Los Angeles, and as goes L.A. media, so goes the world.)

    And that’s when they proved to me beyond all doubt that it was all about selling my eyeballs to advertisers, and no trace of truthful journalism remained in the profession.

  24. Papilio August 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    @no rest for the weary: “What he meant was, “Children in countries with a far lower per capita income enjoy more freedom.””
    In other words, third world countries, where children can’t go to school because they have to work to support their family lest they all starve (if they have a family, that is)?
    In that case I feel the word ‘freedom’ is being overused here…

  25. Melinda Tripp August 9, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    You’re the Mama, stop the drama!
    Teach your kids the basics to keep them safe,
    Teach them your standards, values and the law,
    Make sure they have lots of concrete examples
    Of good an d bad behavior, and what to do when , not if they ever encounter it.
    Then…….let them be kids.

  26. JP Merzetti August 9, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    @Papilio,

    To clarify…..more “basic” freedoms:
    This means the basic freedom of independent mobility,
    the basic freedom to evolve and grow up as a human child, and not a psuedo-adult in the making,
    the basic freedom to not be commodified and value-added by predatory free enterprise non-government corporations, as well as some govenment agencies and bodies.

    …..in societies that are overall far less free:
    The Phillipines
    India
    Egypt
    Ecuador
    Brazil

    You will note that in all these societies mentioned, children of color have a disctinctly better chance of successfully attaining adulthood without punishment and incarceration at the hands of the state.
    But that is not the only measurement of freedom considered.

    no rest for the weary.
    Yes……….that too.

    Educational standards and enrolments are climbing in these countries all the time.
    Sadly, per capita wealth is becoming a dismal way to measure basic freedoms.
    It depends. Denmark? Yes.
    North America? Less so.
    For all our wealth – we do a lousy job.
    In North America, school suspensions are off the charts.
    In Denmark, they are relatively rare. Why?

  27. no rest for the weary August 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    Yes, school suspensions are rare in Denmark. So is the per capita incarceration rate.

    Very much related.

    Here in North America, we’ve subscribed to the idea that punishment will convince people to stop certain behaviours.

    How about instead of punishments, we just focus on what all of us value?

    If it’s safety for children, then let’s be sane about safety. Sometimes it’s safer to wait in the car than to get out of the car. This is just truth. Punishing people for leaving children in cars does not make any child safer.

    Then again, we have a for-profit corrections system in North America. No wonder there was a war on drugs! And now we have a war on parents.

    Follow the money.

  28. SKL August 10, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    My anecdote for the day is a lady on the internet who heaved a huge sigh of relief when she heard that her 12yo stood up to her granny. Granny was going to leave 4 kids, ages 3 to 12, in the car while she ran into a store. She said she’d be right back, but the granddaughter refused to stay in the car, because it was against her mom’s rules to ever stay in the car for even one minute. Granny later explained to the mom that she didn’t want to go to the trouble of unhooking 3yo from his car seat.

    So of course most of the other readers on the internet were all kudos for teaching the kids “safety rules” so well. I mean, anything could have happened. In those few minutes, any number of weirdos seeking to steal a carload of kids could have happened by. It happens all the time! A few people did admit that it can be a pain to get a 3yo in and out of a car for a short trip, and one person even asked why the 12yo couldn’t help with that task.

    Oh, and the other day there was a VBS class that had only one teacher. Several people stated that no church should ever allow a class to have less than 2 security-screened adults with the kids at all times. If you leave the kids with just 1 adult, they could be abused. You just never know. Several people said they would never leave their kids in a situation where there was only one adult (regardless of the number of kids in the class). Safety first!

  29. Mary August 10, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    I’m frustrated because I don’t buy the media hype, the fear mongering, etc. But if my neighbor does they’ll call the cops, I’ll be arrested, my kids thrown in foster care, and then maybe after a long and expensive legal battle everything will go back to normal, minus the kids college funds.

    It’s great to have this philosophy but it seems dangerous to actually practice it, ironically not because of traditional predators, but because of the new breed. Those that prey on what they perceive as my parenting faults to boost their own self esteem when they see me dully punished for having non draconian beliefs.

  30. SKL August 10, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    Oh, and in the VBS story, one mom expressed concern that the teacher would allow her (the mom of a kid in the class) to join her kid in the class. I mean, she didn’t know her from Adam, and she’s letting her in the room with all those vulnerable preschoolers! What kind of person allows an unscreened mom to accompany her kid into a room full of other kids? What’s this world coming to? Some other people said their church has rules against that “for safety reasons.”

  31. SKL August 10, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    Yes, when I vented about having the cops called on me for running into FedEx while my kids sat in the car for < 3 minutes, several people said "I would have called the police if I saw that too." Knowing my kids were second-graders and it was sunset, not hot out. Is it that people don't think, or is it that they do think and they are really that ruthless?

  32. no rest for the weary August 10, 2014 at 2:33 am #

    Most people seem to lack a sense of purpose.

    Perhaps calling the cops gives them the thrill of imagining they’re connected to purpose.

    Tragically, they are slaughtering many other things they value on the alter of power and purpose. Better to derive those things in ways that don’t throw others under the bus, right?

  33. BL August 10, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    @SKL
    “Several people stated that no church should ever allow a class to have less than 2 security-screened adults with the kids at all times.”

    Why on earth are people reluctant to trust their own neighbors and friends but so willing to trust some bureaucratic, pro forma, anonymous process of “screening”?

  34. Beth August 10, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    @SKL “Several people said they would never leave their kids in a situation where there was only one adult”

    Do these people all homeschool? Because, unless things have really really changed since my kids were young, there is rarely if ever more than one adult in a classroom.

  35. Dhewco August 10, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Yeah, screening only weeds out those that have been caught. How many of those teachers that have been arrested for molesting their students went through a background check and passed?

  36. Glen August 10, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    I’m a cop and have seen firsthand how society has forgotten self reliance. Self reliance is taught by parents to children and focuses on problem solving. Sadly, citizens are trained to rely on government and to call 911 for every conceivable problem and to tattle on their neighbors. I have taught my kids strangers are people we don’t know, not good or bad, but if they see certain flags, it’s ok to be assertive – solve the problem. I give them freedom to roam and insist my wife doesn’t force them to check in via cell phone.

  37. Jill August 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    The people who call the police when they see children sitting alone in cars do so because they’re been programmed to think kid alone in car = certain death. They also get off on the idea that they’ll be hailed as the hero who saved a child, and be interviewed on TV.

    Also, there are some people who simply like feeling superior, and ratting someone out to the police, even if it’s just someone who went into the dry cleaner for five minutes while their children waited right outside, in the car, makes them feel good about themselves.

  38. sumitha August 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that article, Jenn!

    Studies in positive psychology seem to indicate that we need to have a positivity/negativity ratio of at least 3:1 (“losada ratio”) to maintain a reasonably happy life. With the way the news media keep blaring out negative stories, the only way I see to maintain a healthy ratio of my information consumption is to tune out the TV. I get my news from the Internet, once a day, where I can decide which articles to read. It keeps me informed about what’s going in the the world, without being bombarded by all the negativity!

  39. lollipoplover August 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    The “just to be on the safe side” phone calls to police are destroying good families and have virtually eliminated our ability to be civil and get involved if concerned.

    If you see kids in the car and have a concern, how hard is it to wait until the parent surfaces from their quick errand? We have become trigger happy at using our cellphones. Can’t anyone have a conversation anymore?
    I leave my kids in the car for errands. Thank heavens for tinted windows.

  40. Papilio August 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

    @JP Merzetti: AFAIK the people in the countries you mention are (mostly) poor, so their children don’t have much choice but to do what they do, regardless of whether their American peers are allowed to do the same things or not. To me, that has nothing to do with freedom, after all these kids and their parents can’t choose not to.
    That an American 9yo is treated like a baby isn’t ideal, of course, but neither is an Indian 9yo who has no choice but act/live like an adult. Neither one of them is free to be a 9-year-old child.

  41. hineata August 10, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    @Nadine – I might be mean but I laughed when I read that story. I think the only thing that went wrong was that it appears the 15 year old brat didn’t get a dressing-down by the police. I have been tempted to ring the cops on one of my kids when I was at my wits end, and a night in jail supposedly helped Winston Churchill develop a lifelong respect for authority, though that might be apocryphal…Really, with teenagers, sometimes you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t :-).

  42. Jennifer August 10, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/investigations/2014/08/08/grady-judd-sex-stings/13785165/

    CRAP LIKE THESE IS WHY WE ALL LIVE IN FEAR POLICE NO LONGER PROTECTION AND SERVE THEY CREATE CRIMES.

  43. Dirk August 11, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Finally some good reporting…

  44. Dirk August 11, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    I find the solution(s) offered in the article interesting…

    “It’s also useful to see the bigger pictures, of course. Consciously focus yourself on the evidence around you that the news is picking out the extremes and the bad things,” McNaughton-Cassill said. In other words, understand that you’re seeing a lot of bad news not because the world is an inherently evil place, but because news outlets—not to mention individual Twitter and Facebook users—have lots of incentives to broadcast explosively negative news stories.

    Overall, of course, it’s both unrealistic and undesirable to construct bubbles that keep out the world’s bad news. But there’s a difference between being informed and being obsessive, and it’s a line that’s very easy to accidentally slide across in an age when there’s so much information zipping around”

    I think it applies to us, this site, too…because this site is building a hysteria that parents get arrested and so forth. That rarely ever happens (I know this to be true because people leave their 10 year olds alone at home every day…EVERY DAY…and nothing bad happens). “Consciously focus yourself on the evidence around you that the news is picking out the extremes and the bad things…” The blog entries on this site are the extreme minority of happenings. Parents do not regularly get arrested for leaving their kids home alone or letting them go to the playground. It is so rare it virtually never happens. You could find more articles online about kids getting killed each day with handguns than parents getting arrested for letting a 10 year spend a few hours at home alone. Doesn’t mean the world isn’t safe and it doesn’t mean parents get arrested all the time. You, I, we should all be careful to not replace one sense of extremism with another (don’t replace the false idea that the world is an unsafe place with another false idea that the world is persecuting you.) Follow the last advice of the journalism linked in the blog article. “Overall, of course, it’s both unrealistic and undesirable to construct bubbles that keep out the world’s bad news. But there’s a difference between being informed and being obsessive, and it’s a line that’s very easy to accidentally slide across in an age when there’s so much information zipping around,” Parents free range or not…believe this…the world is safe and you are not being persecuted.

  45. Omer Golan-Joel August 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Nothing builds tyranny faster than fear of an imaginary enemy. Predators are lurking behind each and every corner! So we need more cops, stricter laws, and police-state enforcement.

  46. EricS August 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    People just need to start thinking for themselves again. It’s really no different to what we were doing before the internet. We still read the papers, listened to the radio, and watched the news. But we knew when to shut them off, and not let it consume our lives. Because we had lives that we put in priority above the gossip, and media. We consciously or subconsciously did not allow ourselves to be consumed by all the negative media. To us, back then, there were far more important things to worry about.

    All of this “getting glued to our mobiles and screens” is a conditioning. People have LEARNED to be this way. If you can learn, you can unlearn. It’s the same process. But I guess, humans in general really do prefer the negative over the positives. The pessimism over the optimism. IMO, this is a sign of weak wills, and great insecurity. Where the simplest solutions, seem to be always the hardest to accomplish. Why? Because many feel they will miss out on the band wagon. They are too selfish to think of the bigger picture, so concentrate only on their wants. Or they just aren’t intelligent enough to know when they are being “had” or “manipulated”. And fear and laziness makes it easier to submit, than take a stand.

  47. EricS August 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    @Dirk: I understand your logic in “extremes”. But you have to remember, the things “Free Range Kids” supports, and stands their ground on, are things that we all used to do. What generations upon generations of parents and society have always done. Until now. Many have veered away from that way of thinking because of the reconditioning of people’s minds, based on what media tells us.

    Media has gone to extremes more and more as technology advances. And all for profit. In a sense, they “shocked” society to thinking the way they do today. And the only way for things to revert back to how things were, society needs to be “shocked” in the other direction. Fear is a great motivator. Especially for the ignorant. Why not fight fire with fire. Force people to start using common sense and logic again. Force them to think before speaking. Just like we were all taught as children.

    Sure, we make big issues about parents getting arrested for leaving their kids unattended. While you are right, many kids are left unattended with no consequence to them or the parents. But trying to emphasize on small things that are for the better, is better than trying to emphasize small things that only make things worse.

    Which is more acceptable to you? Making a big deal about parents getting arrested for leaving their kids alone for a few minutes in a car. Or making a big deal how children are in constant danger if the they are left alone even for one second. Those are the sides of the spectrum we are faced with. And it’s a choice we all need to make. The question is, what choice will they make. And how will they come to that choice?

  48. Dirk August 12, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Two things.

    1) I don’t believe that everything was as you say it was. When I ask my father about growing up in the 60s/70s he says yeah kids could go to the park or rec center alone at 7. If it was across the street from their home. He also pointed out that both the park and rec center by him as a kid had a full time attendant and very often a cop nearby. I think experiences varied by location and demographics as it still does today. The history of US childhood is not exactly what some think it is…

    2) I think there is a middle ground. Moving to a polar opposite extremism because it is closer to the truth but not exactly truthful isn’t right either. The truth is closer to the middle. Lying weakens the position.

  49. Donna August 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    Dirk –

    Yes, there were varying levels of overprotectiveness even in the 60/70s.

    I was actually 7 in the 70s and I was turned loose in the neighborhood and told to be home when the street lights came on. We had certain parameters that we could travel, but they never involved staying within eyesight, or even yelling distance, of home. Not only that, our house was on a LAKE and there was a second lake in the neighborhood. And we played in and around it all the time. All my white, middle class friends were likewise free to roam. Those that lived in my neighborhood and others. Nobody thought this odd or lacking in supervision.

  50. Donna August 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    It still sounds familiar for where I live (more where I work than the city where I live). I just filed a motion to get permission for my 9 year old client to be able to hunt. He’s been doing it as long as he’s been able to hold a gun, but CPS rules prohibit it. Nobody batted an eye. It was approved without a hearing. In fact, the Clerk’s response when I filed the motion was “we need to get this scheduled soon if we need a hearing so he doesn’t miss hunting season.”

    It was definitely not the norm for my childhood, but I grew up in suburban New Jersey.