Calling Out The Safety Nuts: School Edition

Readers — Here’s an aydyzznaib
article from the Denton Record Chronicle
in Denton County, Texas, about allowing voting into the schools when kids are there. Jennifer Travis, the mom who seems to have inspired the piece, normally votes by absentee ballot, I think. So when she had to vote on Election Day itself —

Travis first needed to find where her precinct was located. During that search, she discovered that her son’s school, McMath Middle School, was a polling location, something of which she was not aware.

Travis is concerned, as are others in Denton, over the use of a school as a polling site because of security concerns and protecting the students and staff.

“I had no clue until 2:30 in the afternoon [Tuesday] it was a polling site,” she said. “I think I should have known. You have kids walking to the campus, milling around the campus [and at] dismissal the kids are standing outside,” she said. “You can’t even go to a cookie bake [sale] at a school without scanning your ID, even if you’re a parent of a kid at the school.”

What’s so disturbing about her thinking — and the reason I’m putting it here on the blog — is that BECAUSE the school is already excessively suspicious of all adults, to the point of scanning the IDs of bake sale attendees, it now seems foolhardy to not be even MORE suspicious of all adults. As if:

1 – Children in the mere vicinity of non-screened adults are threatened.

2 – Hyper-inflated fears for our children must be validated and redoubled any chance the authorities get.

Crazy builds on crazy, which is why we have to stop fear in its tracks. That’s why I so appreciate the words of Jennifer Collins, who is quoted in the piece and sent it to our attention:

“Voter turnout is already so low,” Collins said. “Do we really want to encourage the next generation to not only be apathetic about but also fearful of voting?”

Turning a lucky, hard-fought privilege — democratic elections, accessible to all! — into a day of dread is the same pattern we’ve seen with so many other normal activities, when kids are even tangentially concerned. Playing in the park is seen as asking to be kidnapped. Waiting at the bus is tantamount to waiting for a predator. Sharing food is dangerous, swings are dangerous, plastic is dangerous, the mall is dangerous — all these activities are seen through the distorting lens of “What terrible thing is remotely possible?” And then “safety” action is taken.

We are living in extremely safe times and need to understand that eliminating all risk is impossible AND inevitably introduces other risks. So let’s take a tip from Jennifer and CALL OUT the safety nuts when and where we find them. They DO NOT CARE more about our kids than we do! They DO NOT deserve more say! – L.

Oh my god -- what if there are children near the school and unscreened adults are too???

Oh my god — what if there are children near the school and unscreened adults walk by them???


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29 Responses to Calling Out The Safety Nuts: School Edition

  1. Dan November 6, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Agree with everything in here except for one thing. While we are lucky/privileged to live in countries (both the US and here in Canada) with democratic elections, the ability to have my say in who represents me is not a privilege. That implies someone can take it away. It’s a fundamental right which they can have back when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  2. anonymous mom November 6, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    How many children have been abducted and/or abused in a school on Election Day by a person either voting or using voting as a pretense to get into the school?

  3. Stacy November 6, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    I guess I should be glad that no one (as far as I know) has proposed scanning ID’s at the many events that invite parents into our schools. Do they live in a gated community and not let their children out of their grasp in any public place? I think the most frustrating thing is all this energy being wasted on imaginary dangers, while there are actual problems that people could turn their attention to if they looked beyond their own children and their own neighborhood. Not to mention, voting is kind of the most important right we have.

  4. Donna November 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    Wow, I can’t imagine my children going to a school where I was required to show ID to attend a bake sale. That is ridiculous.

  5. Doug November 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Also, it’s a middle school, with kids/adolescents aged 10-14. Is it necessary to assume they have the personal awareness skills of toddlers?

  6. Becky November 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    our school closes on voting day. :/

  7. EricS November 6, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    This was common practice just 15 years ago. The only thing that has significantly changed is the way people think. And those thoughts aren’t even based on facts and what is actually going on. Those thoughts are based on the media’s sensationalizing stories, and perpetuation fear. The world is much safer now than in generations past, but people just fear more, and more irrationally. The craziest part is, most these people don’t even realize why they do. You explain to them in detail why they fear for nothing, and they look at you like they are trying to crap out a watermelon. It’s like their common sense is struggling with their paranoia, and it’s losing. lol

  8. Vicky November 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    The democratic process of choosing our leaders is unique and exciting! I believe for young persons to witness what they will one day be taking part in is fantastic. For them to experience first hand what our founders and every patriot who shed blood and died to make happen, is important. It’s a right worth the sacrifices made. We must instill in them the monumental importance of voting, and being knowledgeable voters, whenever given the opportunity.

  9. Andrea November 6, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    So…does this mean she doesn’t let her children go anywhere where there might be people she doesn’t know and whose IDs haven’t been scanned?

    Seriously, though, what to people think will happen to their MIDDLE SCHOOLERS if people are allowed on school campus that wouldn’t happen at the mall, or the park?

  10. lollipoplover November 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    “You can’t even go to a cookie bake [sale] at a school without scanning your ID, even if you’re a parent of a kid at the school.”

    She says this like it’s a good thing.
    It’s not.
    Limiting school access to your community and only allowing those with scanned ID tags sounds like a prison institution, not a healthy school community.

    Our school had a 1/2 day on Election Day. I took the kids to a community park with friends. Adjacent to the park is a township building where voting was taking place (though our larger schools are still voting locations). I had the best time people watching the voters going in and out of the building. So many cool, antique cars pulled in with well dressed senior citizens who proudly voted. I want my kids to see this! Voter rights and easy access for the community will always trump paranoid parents.

    I don’t understand for the life of me why there is any sense of security by those who swipe these electronic ID tags. These are the craziest loons I know. And I don’t want to go to that bake sale if I need to show ID to buy dry cookies or funfetti cupcakes. And kids outside, walking to and from class can see the voters in their community exercising this very important right. This is a GOOD thing.

  11. Tom November 6, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Keeping kids safe from democracy! Our schools are actually closed on Election Day due to limited parking to accomabdate voters. However I’m very involved in local town politics and was working a campaign table outside that day. I had my elementary school age daughter with me for part of the time and it was a great experience for her. She learned a lot and asked a ton of questions on how our government works.

  12. C. S. P. Schofield November 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    I don’t have kids, which is probably a good thing. If I did, and some nitwit carries on this way, I think I would see if I could get them remanded for psychological evaluation. It would be precisely what they are asking for, and the actual facts on the ground certainly support the view that they are out of control paranoids.

  13. lihtox November 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    The local school district gives kids the day off on Election Day, I think for just this reason. Which means parents have to scramble for babysitters and have even less time to vote. Great going!

  14. lollipoplover November 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    We didn’t have it this election, but the last Presidential election our school ran a Kids Vote election. Kids were brought to polling stations and learned how to vote in the special booths. They learned about political parties, campaign issues, and that their opinion counts. The results of the district wide Kids Vote were even in the paper along with the official votes.
    Don’t we want to educate our kids about the election process? Why are we removing them from it when they should square in the middle of it with all of these school budget cuts and issues affecting families?

  15. Arlington Mom November 6, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    So if she drags her kids to the grocery store or Target, does she expect that all of those adults milling around the stores are also screened? How many times has a kid been injured because of a voter at school? I’m going out on a ledge and saying ZERO.

  16. Jill November 6, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    My polling place is at a senior center. Anyone can walk right in and abduct grandma, but does anyone care? Apparently not. You never hear OMG! Our vulnerable seniors are sitting right there for the taking! They’re too frail and out of it to fight back should anyone grab them! Somebody do something to protect our precious vulnerable seniors!
    That shows where our priorities are.

  17. Nicole 2 November 7, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    What better way to teach children about elections than have the polling place be at the school? You could even have the students volunteer in teams to hand out donuts, help direct voters into the building, and pass out “I voted” stickers. So many possibilities!

    Seriously, I’d love if our polling place was a school, and the school embraced it fully. What a great opportunity- it’s too bad so many schools pass it over because of this weird ‘fear’.

  18. Kiwimum November 7, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    In NZ we have our elections on Saturdays. How do working people vote if its on a weekday?
    And yes, schools are often polling places, but all this angst doesn’t even arise.

  19. MichaelF November 7, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    Well if she is living in a community with the security theatre of scanned IDs for a bake sale this woman is already living in a state of fear. The normalcy once develops with these things adjusts what you are then capable of accepting, you deal with more theatre and speak of it as a norm then you jack up your own level of fear. Thankfully my son’s Elementary Schools have not succumbed to this yet.

  20. Hart November 7, 2014 at 7:22 am #

    I work with mostly twenty-somethings who are young enough to have grown up when this hysteria was starting to gain ground. These are urban, independent young adults (none of whom, as far as I could tell, went to vote by the way.) Yesterday at lunch the arrests of moms for letting their kids go unsupervised to the playground came up and they were mostly scornful of the idea. It came up because one of them had gone to court about a ticket and two people had been there paying fines for “being in a playground without a child.” (!)

    One guy said his 11-year-old brother goes to the playground unsupervised with his friends all the time and the idea of their mom escorting him was ridiculous. Others had similar stories.

    HOWEVER, as the discussion went on they started to say things like “you hear so many awful stories” and they all started to move towards saying yes, THEY went to the playground or rode the bus when they were kids all of ten years ago but THESE days maybe it just isn’t safe.

    As I was listening it occurred to me that these are the parents of five or ten years from now who are going to be making the decisions for a new group of kids. How can we move out from preaching to the choir on this issue so that those future kids aren’t going to be subjected to even more tight restrictions?

    (Sorry this is a little OT!)

  21. Dhewco November 7, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Voting here in rural Georgia (U.S.) is from 7 to 7. Most people have some overlap in their working schedules. Also, if people rush in a few minutes after 7 they’ll allow them to go ahead and vote.

  22. BL November 7, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    “Most people have some overlap in their working schedules”

    In addition, many states have laws mandating time off for voting:

    And, there’s absentee/early voting, which has become increasingly popular.

  23. Donna November 7, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Personally, I can’t imagine voting on the weekend. Weekends are for fun and relaxation, not for standing in line to vote. My guess is that if I’d grown up in a place where Saturday voting was always done, I might have a different opinion, but having grown up in the US all I can think is MAJOR YUCK!

  24. Sharon November 7, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    I could vote on a Saturday or Sunday but we have a lot of friends who work retail and they work all weekend. I hope eventually elections will be held online.

  25. LTMG November 7, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Just think of the danger posed to voters by the children, school staff, and teachers! Can’t overlook that!

  26. Suzanne November 10, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    I think it’s ridiculous that this mom, in the article, says she should have been made aware that the school was a polling location. That’s public information and she had access to it, that she chose not to inform herself is no one else’s fault. I think it’s a shame more schools aren’t used as polling locations anymore, it may make voting seem less accessible and convenient and lead to lower voter turnouts.

  27. julie5050 November 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    about 15 years ago the school I taught at had the privilege of holding a naturalization ceremony in our school gym. Not only did the kids get to see 175 new citizens take the oath but we then held an American picnic for them and their families with hotdogs, apple pie coke-a-cola we gave them all flags and a local photographer was there taking family portraits. We had the kids do AMerican history triva challenges and it was an amazing day…… and gee we didn’t do any sort of sign in sheet.

  28. Xena November 19, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Most of our mid-term elections and other minor ones are mail-in ballots only, but the major (presidential) ones are still held at the elementary school in our ‘hood. We always take the time to go there and vote, rather than mail in our vote, because we think it’s important for the kids to see people taking the time to vote. The older kids may know what it’s about and the younger ones may not, so what a great way for the teachers to have a lesson about voting and representation and government.

  29. Xena November 19, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    Response to Kiwimum – polls are generally open 7 to 7, so a lot of people can fit in voting before or after work. Some companies (like mine) let you put an hour or two on your timesheet for “voting”.