“Better Safe Than Sorry” is Wrong


This perspective brought to us by psychologist Sarah Heavin in Tacoma, WA.

Better fnnbznniin
Safe Than Sorry? Not if you care about fostering healthy child development, by Sarah Heavin

As a forensic child psychologist, I am often hired to evaluate a child for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after an injury. Think: Car accidents, plane crashes, dog bites, ceilings caving in, and medical malpractice.

I’m the mom of two young children, so these injuries haunt me. See that elevator? It could crash. That hillside could collapse. Open bodies of water? Don’t get me started. But despite this, my kids are encouraged to take risks. Why?

Because kids need to take risks to learn to how be safe. A “Better safe than sorry” mentality doesn’t promote child development, and hovering might not even keep your kids safe anyway. (As I’ve seen!) The goods news is that even kids who face trauma are often happy and healthy, despite it all.

So, why should you let your children explore, take risks, and practice independence?

1. It’s good for attachment. John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, described attachment as the process of maintaining an emotional bond with parents and caregivers. A healthy parent-child relationship is measured by a child’s ability to explore and trust that the world around them is a good place. Encouraging exploration demonstrates that you believe your relationship is an adequate foundation for your child to navigate the world.

 2. It’s part of forming a healthy identity. Psychologist Erik Erikson is the father of “identity formation.” He explained that children should develop just enough shame to allow themselves to be guided by others, but enough autonomy to keep from relying on others for protection. A toddler should learn to act with confidence. Erikson likely would have seen “helicopter parents” as fostering doubt and reliance, which hurts identity.

3. Kids can handle it. One UK study examined the lifetime prevalence of PTSD by looking at more than 6,000 people. While 36% had experienced a trauma, only 2% developed PTSD. That means most people who have had a bad thing happen to them are okay. We are resilient. Research also shows that healthy attachment and secure identity promotes resilience after trauma.

 4. The search for safety is illusory. The road to safety doesn’t always make you safer. Research shows that safety upgrades on playgrounds aren’t necessarily productive, because kids learn that others will keep them safe, rather than learning to take charge of their own safety.

In one of my earliest cases as a child psychologist, I interviewed the children of a mother who had died tragically. I expected these children to be broken. They weren’t. They were happy. Their mom had created kids who were securely attached. Who could cope with her absence. Who could withstand trauma. What an amazing gift.

Saying “Better safe than sorry” suggests there are two choices: total safety or perilous disaster. But the cut is never that clean. Good parents let their kids explore, knowing that if something goes wrong, their kids will be resilient. So even though I see that hillside falling down in my mind’s eye, my kid gets to climb.


If we do this, does our kid end up shaped like that???

If we do this, does our kid end up shaped like that???



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63 Responses to “Better Safe Than Sorry” is Wrong

  1. Emily Morris August 4, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    Now this is an article to share!

    I once saw a forum comment where a mother said she would prefer an emotionally unhealthy kid if that’s what it took to.keep him safe.

  2. Warren August 4, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Better safe than sorry has never been about the kids. It is about the parents.

  3. Anna August 4, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Great article. I think “better safe than sorry” is actually a terrible maxim in almost every area of life, not just child-rearing. E.g., doctors who over-treat and over-test “just to be on the safe side.” Or all those overly restrictive rules currently imposed on pregnant women – 10 cups of coffee a day may be bad for the baby? We’d better advise them to have no caffeine and certainly not more than one coffee a day then, just to be on the safe side.

  4. JB August 4, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    “I once saw a forum comment where a mother said she would prefer an emotionally unhealthy kid if that’s what it took to.keep him safe.”

    That depends entirely on what “safe” is.

    If 90% of everyone is going to die by age 16, and the remaining 10% live til they’re 90, then it’s worth getting your child into the 10% even at the risk of emotional unhealthiness. Outside of an extreme case like that, it is absurd to privilege other forms of being OK above emotional health.

  5. SKL August 4, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    A few weeks ago, my kids and I went parasailing (our first time). My 8yo daughters went up together. While they were in the air, the assistant pulled out a big wooden prop shaped like scissors and said, would you like to take a photo of me pretending to cut the line? My kids had no warning of this and thought for a moment that maybe, just maybe, they were actually being cut loose. When they came down I asked them about it. They said yeah, it was a little scary, but they dealt with it by discussing how they could save themselves if they were cut loose and drifted down to the water. I have to say I was proud of them for believing in themselves. 🙂

    The other day we went to an old amusement park that has a truly scary, old, rickety rollercoaster. My kids went on it for the first time, taking the last seat. They found it very scary, but they went on it again; my littlest went on it 3 times before she’d had enough. Each time she was so scared she scrunched down in her seat. My friend (who won’t even go on a baby rollercoaster) wondered why people like going on scary rides. I said, probably because it gives us the feeling of having taken on a dangerous challenge, without the actual effort and risk of taking on a real challenge.

    I’m hoping scouts will give my kids opportunities to take on “real” challenges to build their confidence. There aren’t too many such challenges in “real life” childhood any more.

  6. Doug August 4, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    One of the biggest threats to workplace safety is, ironically, the lack of knowledge of what can go wrong.

    If there are never incidents to investigate, one never knows which behaviors were unsafe or led to the unfortunate outcome.

    If “near-misses” (which should really be renamed, but I digress) are not treated as something worthy of study, the incident will recur, likely with significantly impactful results.

    Or, “you can learn more from doing something wrong than you can from doing it right.”

    The phrase “Better safe than sorry” can be used, but only in specific instances, never as a generalization. I should strap a safety harness on when I’m working 10th floor windows. But should I never scuba dive because there is a risk of an air embolism?

    I shouldn’t cave dive because I haven’t been trained, and “BSTS” applies. I shouldn’t go too deep because of nitrogen narcosis; “BSTS.” But BSTS could apply to never eating oranges, because you MIGHT be allergic.

    Just another example of lazy thinking (possibly also promulgated by people with an authoritarian agenda, but that’s probably another post).

  7. Kenny Felder August 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Of course it’s better to be safe than sorry. Who doesn’t want to be safe? Even better, who wants to be sorry?

    The challenge is finding a reasonable balance between risk and independence. How safe is safe enough? How much risk is acceptable? How sorry? You don’t let a two-year-old play in heavy traffic to expose him to risk.

    And the thing is, I think everyone, from the most helicopter-ish to the most free-range, would agree with that much. The differences come one level down from there. And what I find, more and more, is that the answer to “how safe is safe enough?” does not depend on how risky something is, but on how likely it is to show up on the news or lead to a lawsuit. So taking your eight-year-old in the car with you to the park (properly strapped in, etc) is perfectly reasonable, but leaving him unattended on the jungle gym is too risky. Never mind that the former activity is far more likely to lead to injury and death than the latter; what really matters is that kidnappings show up on the news but car accidents don’t. Kidnappings lead to lawsuits and arrests. That’s what we’re really being “safe” from.

    If that sounds too cynical, offer another explanation for why the same mothers who cheerfully drive their kids around town (highly dangerous) freak out at the idea of letting them walk down that same street (very safe).

  8. SKL August 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    I think the real issue is that kids who are overprotected end up less safe in the long run.

  9. John August 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    I personally believe that children, many times, can handle tragedy and trauma better than us adults can. But I think we assume that a child’s feelings are so tender and fragile when they’re not as tender and fragile as we think.

    When I was a 12-year-old kid back in 1968, a woodchuck was loose in our neighborhood and getting into garbage cans and being a basic nuisance. But one day, we got it cornered in my uncle and aunt’s garage so one of the neighbors came over and shot it dead with his 12-gauge. The poor animal squirmed and bled all over the garage floor before it died. But as a kid I thought, wow, how cool! The pop of the gun and all that. But if I had witnessed something like that now, it would ruin my day! That poor animal. WHY did it have to be shot and killed? Why not call Animal Control and have them trap it and let it loose far out into the countryside?

    So seeing that poor woodchuck squirm and bleed to death would really have bothered me now, but as a kid, it just didn’t register with me. I guess because I was too immature to understand that cornering it and killing it was completely unnecessary.

    It is always assumed that sexual abuse will traumatize a kid for life. Well, it certainly can and it does, but I’ve heard of studies that conclude a far majority of people who went thru sexual abuse during their childhood are able to put it behind them and lead happy and productive lives as adults. But it seems as if the sex abuse counseling industry does not want to hear that because it might impede on their grant money.

  10. Janet C August 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    The arms reach sign is appropriate for toddlers and pools. Anything else, no.

  11. Steve August 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    John said:

    “The poor animal squirmed and bled all over the garage floor before it died. But as a kid I thought, wow, how cool! The pop of the gun and all that. But if I had witnessed something like that now, it would ruin my day! That poor animal. WHY did it have to be shot and killed? Why not call Animal Control and have them trap it and let it loose far out into the countryside?

    “So seeing that poor woodchuck squirm and bleed to death would really have bothered me now, but as a kid, it just didn’t register with me.”


    Trauma and emotional problems are all about WHAT you think about. It’s about the negative thoughts YOU CHOOSE to play and replay in your mind. John gave us a great example of why he was NOT traumatized by that incident.

    If you choose to replay unsetting thoughts and upsetting beliefs about something, you will feel bad and even traumatize yourself.

    The problem of course is that people often don’t realize that if they change their viewpoint and beliefs about something they can change how they feel. Instead they think when something upsetting happens, it’s the event that is upsetting. No it’s not! It’s the beliefs you associate with the event that cause the bad feelings. And last but not least is that we all think we are “correct” in our beliefs. So, believing we are right trumps wanting to change.

  12. sexhysteria August 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    This person has courage AND good sense!

  13. Warren August 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    No the arms reach sign does not make sense. Your child is not going to drown in a split second. It doesn’t work that way.

  14. Jen August 4, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    shouldn’t matter. . the kid on that sign will bob up and down like a cork in the water. 🙂

  15. Nicole August 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    When your only choices are safe or sorry, then safe is better. Should I wear a seat belt? Well, wearing it is really no big deal and keeps me safe, if I don’t wear it and I’m hurt in an accident, I sure will be sorry. But what about safe or happy? Safe or emotionally healthy? Safe or living a fantastic life? If I let my sixth grader walk home from school with friends, something bad could happen, or they could accomplish it and gain self reliance. If I let my teenager go backpacking through Europe after graduation, something bad might happen, or it could be the most wonderful experience of their entire lives. In cases like this, if you go with safe every time, you might end up sorry for the rest of your life over what you missed.

  16. Peter August 4, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    You don’t let a two-year-old play in heavy traffic […]

    If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball…

  17. lollipoplover August 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    “The search for safety is illusory.”

    We can never be completely safe or completely free of sorrow. We can be reasonably safe, and most of us are.
    I hate better safe than sorry. It’s a parenting euphemism for “No”.

  18. theresa hall August 4, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    there is difference between being safe and being a worrywart. we have safety rules so people hopefully won’t get hurt. tell me do you use the crosswalk and its light to cross or do you just cross any old way? safety rules might be a pain but better that pain then the one you’ll get when safety is out the window and things go wrong.

  19. Eric S August 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Nice! But sadly, all the evidence in the world will not deter paranoid individuals from believing what they believe. The mind is powerful thing, if conditioned wrong, they can be made to believe flying pink elephants exist. And you there is nothing you can do to make them see the reality. Only THEY can do it for themselves. Hopefully, articles like this make fearful people feel a little less fearful. Which is a good start. It means the can be reconditioned to think as previous generations of parents have.

  20. Eric S August 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    I prefer to use “smart” in place of “safe”. We are all predisposed for survival. It’s a genetic imperative. We choke ourselves to death. We can’t even drown ourselves. At least now without help. We would never knowingly put ourselves in harms way. But not everyone is always smart about doing that.

    Like “sorry”, we as a society have used the word “safe” to often. That it’s just an automatic response. eg. People who don’t text and walk, and bump into people. They say “sorry”, only to put their noses to their phones again, to bump into other people. Step and repeat. If they were REALLY sorry, they wouldn’t be making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like “safe”. So many of us have heard it in our life time, that when someone says “be safe”, it’s just another word for us. Do many head that advice, or is it in one ear, and out the other. Now “smart”. You are actually playing on someones, ego (for lack of a better word). No one wants to be considered stupid. You call someone a “dummy”, and they get all bent out of shape. Saying “be smart out there”, you are no ‘challenging’ them. Whether consciously or subconciously, to prove that they are smart. Everyone hates hearing “I told you so”. It’s all psychological. The power of suggestion. It’s all science.

  21. Eric S August 4, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    @Theresa Hall: I cross were I can. If I have to get across the street, directly in front from where I’m standing, but the lights or crosswalk, are half a block in either direction, I’m not going to walk to it, then walk back to the middle. I’m going to cross the street in the middle. BUT, I’m going to be SMART about it. I’m not just going to cross the street thinking cars will stop for me because pedestrians have the right of way. No, I’m going to look both ways, and only when it’s clear, and the timing is right, will I RUN across, not walk. I’m already jaywalking, why would I put myself in anymore risk by casually walking across. That’s just arrogant and stupid. RUN. Get to the other side as quickly as possible after finding an opening in traffic.

    Safety rules are there for a reason, yes. But you do realize many of those safety rules and policies out there are primarily so that the business and establishments don’t get sued. Don’t be “safe”, be “smart”. Works much better. Not all people, with safety in mind, are always smart about it. I’m sure you’ve seen those people. 😉

  22. Havva August 4, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    I wonder how many phrases our culture mindlessly uses promotes the safety over everything mindset?

    I recently excised “Take care” by way of saying farewells from my habits. I picked it up, I think post 9/11, as a way of trying to express caring for others. Ultimately I realized it has an air of ‘you could die or be seriously maimed at any moment’, and ‘safety should matter above all else’. So I had to re-train my self to say “Have a great evening”, “have a fun weekend”, “have a good time”, “see you tomorrow”, “enjoy”,or just a simple “good-by”.

    Lenore has also mentioned before the have a safe _____ where before we used to say ‘fun’. For at least a few summers my local elementary school’s sign all summer said “Have a safe summer.” This year it says “Have a good summer. And don’t forget to read, read, read.”

  23. fred schueler August 4, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    I love the way the 3 yo grandson careens down the street on his scooter so fast his father can’t keep up even by running. When he falls he pulls in elbows and knees and rolls, so he’s never hurt. And when a car is coming he stops immediately, moves directly to the roadside, and checks that accompanying adults have done the same. Also, he’s adept with knives, brush axes, and saws. Oops, I guess I must be the worst grandfather in Canada.

  24. lollipoplover August 4, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    What is a “Safe Summer” anyway? Is it kids indoors (too much risk of sunburn) playing video games (Wii Tennis is safer than real tennis), away from bodies of water (drownings are a big killer), and out of cars (auto accidents peak in summer)? Maybe the kids are safe but parents will go out of their minds!

    Because your kid may be alive and safe for now, but sedentary lifestyles and obesity kill just as many (maybe even more) people than accidents. Balancing basic childhood play requirements with modern day safety advances (helmets, seat belts, swim lessons) means kids can actually be happy and well-adjusted AND safe. Even outdoors. Even in summer.

  25. Kimberly August 4, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Coincidentally, with the emergence of safer play areas (i.e. plastic playgrounds) they have found that children are coming into the ERs more frequently with 1st and 2nd degree burns. Why? The assumption that plastic slides are safer than metal (i.e. won’t get as hot) means that kids no longer know to test the temperature of the slide with their hands before using it. That was something all of us metal slide kids learned to do really quick.

    I’m sorry, but all the over protection is just nuts. No matter what anyone says a child can’t learn how to be safe if they are never exposed to danger. To believe the opposite is like saying I can learn proper CPR by watching ER, I can learn how to throw a knife just by watching a video, I can learn to read by having others read to me, I know how to parent because I read the books, I can be a crime scene analyst because I was obsessed with CSI. That’s just stupid and no one would hesitate to tell me so. Yet it’s perfectly “acceptable” for parents to believe that their children will learn safe behavior because they were there to micromanage and bubble wrap their childhood.

  26. theresa hall August 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    maybe some rules were created because sue happy idiots. like now we have to have safety warnings on coffee cups because someone didn’t realize hot coffee is HOT! but some were created to keep us safe. we just need to know which is which .

  27. Michelle August 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Doug, I think it has more to do with control – or even the illusion of control. If I’m driving my kids around, I am in control of the car. I feel like I’m in control of the situation. That makes it FEEL less risky than letting them walk alone where I have no control at all, and have to TRUST that they will be safe, even though they actually ARE safer walking than driving.

    It’s the same reasoning that leads (some) doctors to do c-sections at the drop of a hat, or keep using routine interventions in childbirth that have been shown to increase risks without improving outcomes. It FEELS better to do something, to be pro-active, to try to control the situation. And if something goes wrong, we’d prefer to think we “did everything we could” to prevent it, even if what we actually did was introduce more risk.

  28. Michelle August 4, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Ooops, my response was actually @Kenny Felder.

  29. Michelle August 4, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    PS, Theresa Hall, I assume that you are referring to the McDonald’s hot coffee case? I’m sorry, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. The media coverage of that case was so completely misleading

    That particular McDonald’s had been warned multiple times for serving their coffee at an unsafe temperature, and they kept doing it anyway. The coffee was so hot, that it caused third degree burns. She had to be hospitalized, and have skin grafts. My husband was cooking lentils a couple months ago, and splashed BOILING water on himself, and that was only a second degree burn. (It still took two weeks to heal.)

    Nobody expects coffee to be THAT hot. Serving coffee that hot to people in moving vehicles (although she was actually parked when it spilled) is just irresponsible, especially when you’ve been repeatedly told to stop.

  30. Warren August 4, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    I have no problem if paranoid idiots want to live sheltered lives because they are too afraid to live.

    I do have a problem when they try to dictate that lifestyle for the rest of us.

    I still get nasty looks from parents when kids ride in my car with no seat belts. And that may extend to the new to me truck we are looking at.

  31. BL August 4, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

    “The coffee was so hot, that it caused third degree burns. She had to be hospitalized, and have skin grafts.”

    She held the coffee cup between her knees while removing the lid. That’s asking for a spill. Would second-degree burns have been OK then?

    I’m not a coffee-drinker, but I used to get hot chocolate at MacDonald’s. After that case it became lukewarm and I stopped getting it there.

  32. Anna August 4, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    Another ridiculous phrase: my old university’s campus safety department had signs all over the place with the motto “Safety first, safety always.” Now, granted, it was the campus police, so naturally they would have a bias in that direction. But if you even think about it for one minute, what could be more absurd than “Safety first” as a motto? Safety is basically good because you remain around to enjoy other good things that are worthwhile for their own sake. E.g., joy, love, fun, adventure, achievement. Safety is only as good as the other goods it preserves us for. For it to replace those goods is obviously crazy.

  33. Donald August 4, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    I just hear of a great idea. Start teaching 7 year olds how to play chess. It’s good practice for them to see that they are in control of an outcome. Their actions help determine whether they win or lose. The sooner that this concept gets ingrained in their attitude the better off the’ll be. Furthermore, as they get better at chess they ‘practice seeing the board from the opponents point of view’ because they anticipate/predict the counter attack. to make a long story short, they try to walk a mile in the other persons shoes.

  34. Kiwimum August 4, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    Chess – interesting real life story of what chess can do for kids is told in the New Zealand movie “The Dark Horse” http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/gisbornes-dark-horse-leaves-behind-chess-legacy-2014071717#axzz3htJeepwY

    “With his best mates by his side, they sought out kids on the wrong side of the tracks.
    “Gen would say to the teachers, ‘We don’t want the good kids; give us the ADHDs and give us those naughty children,'” says Mr Keelan. “We’d be picking up children from the Mongrel Mob, from the Black Power and just all get together, we would play chess.”
    They taught kids life skills without them even realising.
    Mr Keelan describes how when you make a move on a chessboard, you’ve got to see that there’s a consequence to go with it.
    “Just as in life – you want to go and steal something, there’s a consequence to go with it”.

    Read more: http://www.3news.co.nz/tvshows/campbelllive/gisbornes-dark-horse-leaves-behind-chess-legacy-2014071717#ixzz3htJuT9rh

  35. Anna August 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    Speaking of chess in school: a horrible (vaguely free-range-kids related) story a friend told me about his junior high school. Incidentally, my friend was black – relevant to the story, as you’ll see. Apparently, at his junior high, black and white students completely self-segregated in the cafeteria and other common areas, until a charismatic teacher set all the students on fire for chess, at which point, they all started playing chess together, across racial lines. Then a local newspaper came in and did a story, emphasizing that, when a black and white kid played, the black kid normally took the black pieces and the white kid the white. So the school banned chess, and according to my friend, the black and white kids returned to complete self-segregation.

  36. julie5050 August 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Ships are safe in the harbor
    but that is not what Ships
    were made for

  37. Steve August 4, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    Chess and kids…

    Magnus Carlsen – the Mozart of Chess – (C) CBS news – aired 19 Feb 12.

  38. JKP August 4, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    BL – I have to agree with Michelle about the “hot coffee” incident. McDonalds was keeping the coffee at a dangerous temperature, and they had been warned that it wasn’t safe, and they had 700+ customer injuries already. I’m sorry you think that it has made their hot chocolate “lukewarm”, but they are still serving it 15 degrees hotter than you would get at home or in most other restaurants. Spilling coffee shouldn’t guarantee you 3rd degree burns in 2-7 seconds.


    “McDonalds coffee was not only hot, it was scalding — capable of almost instantaneous destruction of skin, flesh and muscle.” She had 3rd degree burns over 6% of her body, requiring 8 days of hospitalization and skin grafts. In spite of over 700 customer injuries with 3rd degree burns, McDonalds “enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees.” “Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.”

    Basically, McDonalds was serving coffee at a temperature that guaranteed any spill would cause 3rd degree burns in 2-7 seconds. After the court case, they now serve it at a safer 155 degrees.

  39. James Pollock August 4, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    “kids need to take risks to learn to how be safe.”
    Which is not to say the kids, and their choices, should not be overseen.

    Teenagers learning to drive get a learner’s permit first, which requires a licensed driver be in the car with them. Pools tend to come with lifeguards. Why? Because car accidents and drownings.

    The trick is to be watchful enough to correct the serious mistakes, while letting them make the little ones.

    “Better safe than sorry” means wear a helmet when you ride your bike. It means don’t get in a car if the driver has been drinking. It means wear a condom even if she says she’s on the pill (or make him wear a condom even if you ARE on the pill.) It means check the references on your babysitter.

  40. James Pollock August 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    “Basically, McDonalds was serving coffee at a temperature that guaranteed any spill would cause 3rd degree burns in 2-7 seconds. After the court case, they now serve it at a safer 155 degrees.”

    McD’s serves the coffee so hot because most of the people who buy McD’s coffee take it somewhere else before they drink it, and it’s still hot when they get there. Most McD’s still serve coffee very hot… they just give better warnings now.

  41. SKL August 4, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    The comments about “have a safe ___” remind me of my kid. When she finds out I am going somewhere separately from her, she will say “be safe” or “drive safe” or whatever. Not because I have taught her this or because I say this (I don’t). But because she has a bit of anxiety / anxious attachment.

    I don’t have a problem with the phrase “be safe.” To me it just says “I care what happens to you.”

  42. JKP August 5, 2015 at 1:45 am #

    James – “Most McD’s still serve coffee very hot… they just give better warnings now.”

    No, James, you are wrong. If you read the article I linked to, the settlement actually forced McD’s to lower the holding temperature of their coffee 30 degrees lower than it previously was. Yes, it’s still hotter than most places, but it is nowhere near the dangerous temperatures it was at prior to this lawsuit. I know the rationale for keeping it that hot was so it would be hot when customers arrived at their destination, but they had already been warned multiple times by inspectors that their holding temperature was dangerously high and unsafe.

  43. hineata August 5, 2015 at 3:09 am #

    Just 5 minutes ago watched my 14 year old almost step out in front of a fastmoving car. It’s night, and she was distracted. Nothing at all I could have done had that happened, except watch in horror as it unfolded.

    Praise God she noticed a fraction ahead ….but yes, I think safety often is an illusion. And we can’t protect them every second

  44. James Pollock August 5, 2015 at 3:43 am #

    “No, James, you are wrong. If you read the article I linked to, the settlement actually forced McD’s to lower the holding temperature of their coffee 30 degrees lower than it previously was.”

    McD’s are franchised, not corporate-owned. Each one decides what it’s going to do independently of the others.

    “But the reality is that McDonald’s served coffee at 180 to 190 degrees at the time, tens of degrees higher than what people typically brew at home. Since the Liebeck case, others have taken McDonald’s to court over the coffee temperature. According to the NYT video, the company now tells franchisees to serve coffee 10 degrees cooler than it did at the time Liebeck was burned.

    The crux of Fino’s suit, filed in Fresno County Superior Court, is that McDonald’s is still knowingly serving coffee at scalding temperatures, Wagner argues. “This happened before and this continues to happen,” he said. “Why doesn’t the corporation do something to prevent these injuries?”


  45. James Pollock August 5, 2015 at 3:46 am #

    … or you might find this reference more reliable.

  46. Joanna @ kids activities dubai August 5, 2015 at 6:45 am #

    Honestly, these can be tough to swallow as a parent. But I agree, sometimes we have to let them figure things out for themselves because we’re not always gonna be around.

  47. Warren August 5, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    Not only are you still incredibly annoying. But you are ever increasingly wrong.

    Pools come with lifeguards? The vast majority of pools that are out there do not have lifeguards. For the most part it is municipal pools and waterparks that have the only lifeguards. Not backyard pools, not private pools, and not hotel pools. Nice try, but wrong again.

    As for the franchise owner, he/she does not have the option of doing what they want. They do it McDonalds way or it is the highway.

    For someone that brags about their education, you never show it.

  48. Diana Green August 5, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    What is the trap we fell into with “Better Safe Than Sorry?” That was not the the philosophy on which this great country was built. My own ancestors were pioneers on the borderlands, and homesteaders. Challenges were opportunities, once upon a time. (And still are, in many children’s adventure stories.)
    When did this weird illness come over us? This malaise. When did passivity sneak up on us and steal our spirit, our spirits?
    What is the cure?

    For me and mine, the counter adage to “Better Safe Than Sorry” is “You shall know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free.”

    Insist that your elected officials tell you the truth. Do not allow them to lie to you to keep you in subservient positions, in thrall to them and the big money interests tat run their campaigns. Say again and again: “Tell the TRUTH!” Ask, “Is that the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” If you suspect a lie, ask them to prove their position. It is not illegal in this land of the free and home of the brave to stand up and ask questions!

    Same with the news media. Question what you read and hear. Ask for background on stories. Ask for FACTS. If you do not understand ratios and percentages and statistics, take a refresher course. This will be a great help to all parents trying to understand the debate over “all those tests they are making the kids take”.

    Learn how research is done, and what the terms VALID and RELIABLE mean.

    Discuss the issues on FRK and with your family, friends, and neighbors. Involve children in the debates.

    Some friends and I are advocates for FRK and have been getting mostly positive feedback. It’s fun to find out who knows about it and who doesn’t. I give the book away–but only if I believe the young parent will use it wisely!

  49. Art August 5, 2015 at 10:52 am #


    JHC, How could people be so stupid?

  50. John August 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Parents, please tell me something here. Today was the first day of school here in my hometown In northern Alabama. So as I was on my morning run around the subdivision, I noticed many young schoolchildren out in their driveway wearing their backpacks and waiting for the school bus. It’s funny because I NEVER see these kids outside playing any other time but there they were waiting for the school bus. But anyway, I saw about 6 or 7 groups of kids waiting and I noticed with every kid(s), a parent, usually the mother, was standing there with them. So I thought well maybe mom just wants to see her young’in off to school on the first day for a little moral support and a final first day goodbye. After all, it was the FIRST day of school. But then I noticed as I was leaving for work, the boy who lives across the street from me AND who is 15-years-old, was waiting for the school bus ALSO WITH HIS DAD WAITING THERE WITH HIM and his dad looked rather bored as if it were a chore standing there with him.

    So my question is, could this be yet another stupid rule the school or city has requiring a parent or guardian to stand there with the kid until the school bus arrives? EVEN IF THE KID(S) ARE TEENAGERS??

    Assuming this is true, this has got to be the pinnacle of bubble-wrapping our youth, particularly in a very low traffic and quiet subdivision like mine. I can maybe understand a parent waiting with a 5- or 6-year-old child in the event that he might run out in front of the school which would still be highly unlikely even with most young children. BUT a 15-year-old? Please!

    Why oh why does American society continue to infantize (Is that a word?) our teenagers, just because they haven’t reached that magical age of 18 when all of a sudden they become smart and mature on the morning of their 18th birthday?

    Now I really should check into this with my neighbor before I get on my soapbox to see if it’s actually a school or city rule. Perhaps the parents just wanted to see their kids off seeing it was the first day of school. But somehow I doubt it.

    A while back, I remember seeing an article in conjunction with this site written by a college professor who claimed that he is now seeing so many parents accompany their sons and daughters to college registration day to help them navigate through the registration process. Whereas 30 years ago, 18-year-old college freshmen would have been embarrassed to death having their parents accompany them to registration! But kids are getting to the point where they can’t do ANYTHING without their parents assistance and I believe that stupid rules like this are the cause of that!

    But again, perhaps it merely was the parents being stupid and not some rule. So what’s the scoop parents, does a rule like this exist in YOUR area?

  51. shdd August 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    My daughter, once she started middle school, told her dad please don’t walk me to the bus stop. She gets home by herself and she said she didn’t need him to walk with her like a baby. At the summer school bus stop a girl was slapping some other kids with her mom watching. The mother said she had to watch or it would be worse. My daughter told her if you trust your daughter the 8th graders would teach her not to slap. The mother said no she would drive her daughter to school. The mother felt that since her 6th grader was taller than most of the 8th graders on the bus she would not listen to them. I think she might have listened to five or six really patient 8th graders who would have mentored her for the entire year her loss.

  52. hineata August 5, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    @John – that’s funny, I was just on my way to work the other day and I noticed a father walking with his son to the local intermediate (son was about 12). Was thinking how nice it was to see dad and son together. A lot of the local men in that area work odd shifts so some use the mornings they’re home for a bit of bonding. Very sexist of me but I love seeing fathers and sons together, of any age!

    But….if the dad was looking bored, could be you’re right, and it’s just another dumb rule. Hope not!

  53. Joan August 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    What exactly do your children learn from your pride in their not wearing seatbelts?

  54. Papilio August 5, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    “the boy who lives across the street from me AND who is 15-years-old, was waiting for the school bus ALSO WITH HIS DAD WAITING THERE WITH HIM”

    For contrast, then: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=OrQ-d2PBUto#t=23
    These kids are going to secondary school, 7-12th grade.

    ““Better safe than sorry” means wear a helmet when you ride your bike.”

    Depends on the context.

  55. Warren August 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm #


    That government interference has its limits. And we did get the truck. So now we have one car and one truck that they do not have to wear seat belts in. And there is not a dang thing that busy bodies or the government can do about it.

    You see Joan both vehicles predate seat belts. And if they are not original equipment the government cannot force me to install them. It is rather nice going out for drives when you are not strapped in. Much more relaxing and enjoyable.

  56. anonymous mom August 5, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    The problem with “better safe than sorry” is that it’s an ever-moving target. You think you are doing fine, then suddenly somebody points out a new danger to you (and we have a media that seems to thrive on pointing out new and hidden dangers in things we had previously thought were safe), and there’s something else to be “better safe than sorry” about. It’s an ever-rising ceiling, and that’s how we got into the situation we’re now in.

  57. JR August 5, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    @Warren – I understand the joy in giving the government the middle finger. I really do.

    But to do it over seat belts? Come on. An unrestrained body in a car crash becomes a projectile that endangers self and others. Compared to other forms of civil disobedience, this move of yours has very little redeeming value. In essence, you’re teaching your children to prioritize a slight increase in physical comfort over generally-recognized responsible driving behavior.

    If you want to really stand up for personal liberty against government intrusion, teach them responsible firearms ownership, homesteading skills, and how not to get bent out of shape when they encounter ideas they don’t like.

  58. serena August 5, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    I recently started geocaching with my 10 year old and when I downloaded the app to my new phone there was a disclaimer that said something like, “You may get hurt or injured doing this activity but you can get hurt or injured doing pretty much any activity. Have fun” I think they may have been forced to put a warning on there for legal reasons but I like the way they acted like it was no different from any other hobby, sport, or day.

  59. Warren August 5, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    You know nothing about classic vehicles and their values do you? This really has nothing to do with safety, sticking it to the man over laws.

    It has everything to do with the government not being able to adversely affect the value of my investment. If it is not original equipment on that vehicle, you are not obligated to install it. Because installing non original equipment will decrease the value of the car.

    So JR, you can take your assumptions of me and stick em where the sun don’t shine.

  60. Warren August 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    Oh and JR,

    Do not under any circumstances think you have the right or ability to tell my what to teach my kids. We understand each other?

  61. Michael_oz August 6, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    First time poster here..

    I’ve been fan for quite a while but never spoke up.

    I realise this thread is already gathering dust as I post this. But I wanted to share something that was touched on in one of the posts.

    Exposure to danger during my childhood has been very beneficial to my adult life. I have a healthy respect for danger, but I don’t fear it.

    As an example, I have been playing with fire since I was a kid. During those years, I gained a knowledge of how much water I needed for a given bushfire. I also learned the very moment at which a fire could get out of control, based on the size and intensity.

    I could go on and on with how much danger I was exposed to. But now, I can be at a workplace and identify risks and then act appropriately instead of relying on safety policies.

    Thanks for your work Lenore 🙂

  62. wendy August 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm #


    You don’t let a two-year-old play in heavy traffic […]

    If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball…

    Thanks for that! and if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball…

    but kids don’t play dodgeball anymore, they might get hurt 🙂

    and that Mc coffee– back when I couldn’t afford the good stuff I drank it, but always asked for icecubes in it so it was drinkable, I noticed lots of others ding the same.

  63. JR August 7, 2015 at 10:03 am #


    Thanks for the lolz!