Most of us parents have had that shouted at us at some point — often when we’re letting our kids do something that is, statistically, not very dangerous at all, like letting a 3 year old nap in the car while we pay for the gas, or letting our 7-year-old walk to the park.
Writer Heather Head came up with this lovely counterpoint. She’s mom to three boys, 7-14. Frustrated with over-protective neighbors and police trying to frighten her children into staying in the house, she researched and wrote this list of better things to be afraid of. You can follow her on Twitter @HHeadWrites.
YOU KNOW WHAT’S DANGEROUS?Putting your kid in the car and driving somewhere. This is the leading cause of death among children in the United States.(Source: The CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/Ä¶/child_passenger_safÄ¶/cps-factsheet.html)You know what else is dangerous?Swimming pools. In states where swimming pools are common (Florida, for instance), this cause of childhood death surpasses automobile accidents.(Source: The CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.htmlYou know what else is dangerous?Depression. In children ages 10-14, suicide is the third leading cause of death, following accidents (auto accidents and drowning are lumped together in this list) and cancer.(Source: The CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2012-a.pdf)You know what else is dangerous?Sending your kid to Grandma’s house. 200,000 children per year in the U.S. are abducted, and 199,885 of them are taken by family members, including grandparents, non-custodial parents (who often take them from a grandparent’s house), and close family friends.You know what else is dangerous?Letting your kids meet anyone at all. 90% of sexual offenders are close family members, camp counselors, and other people known well by the family and the child.(Source: Child Safe. http://www.childsafeeducation.com/statistics.html)You know what else is dangerous?Lack of exercise. Believe it or not, heart disease is the 5th leading cause of death among children, following behind homicide. (Source: The CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2012-a.pdf).Speaking of homicide, you know what else is dangerous?Letting Dad watch the kids. Or Mom. Or, anyone actually. Roughly 63% of child homicides are perpetrated at the hands of a parent, and another 27% by friends.
(Source: Canadian Children’s Rights Council–my apologies–if someone has the U.S. reference for this, please share–the numbers are very similar, but I can’t find my source right now.
http://www.canadiancrc.com/Ä¶/Canada-Child_Youth_Homicide_MuÄ¶)YOU KNOW WHAT’S NOT DANGEROUS?Letting your kid walk to the park, stand on the street, or go to the store alone in a normal, reasonably safe American neighborhood. Stranger abductions account for fewer than 150 incidents per year. When spread across all the children in the United States, this means that my son, statistically speaking, would have to stand on the street corner alone for upwards of 600,000 years in order to be abducted.(Source: Lenore’s book: Free-Range Kids!)You want to ban something? Ban cars. Ban swimming pools. Ban Grandma’s house. Don’t prosecute good, responsible parents who are training their children to navigate this world by teaching them to navigate the world.My heart is sick when I read of parents investigated for giving their kids some independence.http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-county-neglect-inquiry-shines-spotlight-on-free-range-parenting/2015/01/17/352d4b30-9d99-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html – H. H.