TV Expert: No Kid Should Go Outside Alone Till Age 11, And Then Only in “Short Spurts.” UPDATE, BELOW

Readers — In response to the case of Nicole Gainey, the retrerazzd
mom arrested for letting her 7-year-old walk to the park alone
, Fox Boston called in Dr. Karen Ruskin to educate the entire Northeast on how to parent.

We want to live in a safe world, says Ruskin in this interview, “But we don’t.”  Kids 7,8,9 and 10 should not walk to school or even venture outside without you, she says. Perhaps by age 11 you can let your child out in “short spurts,” but really, folks, “It is your job to be the parent,” and if you trust your kids to walk the dog or bike to a friend’s, you are guilty of “parentifying” your child — turning the child into an adult.

Which I always thought was the point of parenting. Gradually turning the child into an adult.

The interview is also factually wrong. Ruskin claims that not only are there all sorts of child molesters out there, but that they each molest “over a hundred children.” This recidivism stat is an oft repeated myth, bearing no relation to reality. – L


Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

UPDATE: One of you sent this letter to Dr. Ruskin (and also posted it as a comment, below). I love its tone and message and I hope Dr. Ruskin reads it. 

Dear Dr. Ruskin: I watched your recent interview which was featured on a blog I follow called “Free Range Kids”.  I have a few questions I hoped you could clarify, as the interview was very short.  I am also going through your blog posts to get a more clear understanding of your point of view as I don’t want to be disrespectful just because this clip makes you appear (to me) to hold a point of view that is vastly different from my own.  

1)  What harm do you believe is being prevented by ensuring that a child is never left unsupervised even for a minute before age 13?  I would like to make sure that the harm being prevented outweighs the harm of the kind of intense supervision you seem to be encouraging.

2)  Do you think it is possible your work with people that are struggling has given you a skewed view of what the world is actually like?  For example, I was a very happy latchkey kid with extremely involved parents.  It is unlikely you would see me in your office.

3)  I pay a very responsible twelve year old in my neighborhood to babysit my three children for up to two hours once a month or so.  She is an outstanding student and cellist, and in fact a much more attentive and reliable sitter than many of the college students we have employed.  She appears to me to have had a very loving upbringing, though by your standards I suppose she has been “parentified”.  (The main side effect of this upbringing appears to be that she has become an incredibly articulate and mature young woman.)  Should parents who allow their children to experience increasing levels of independence based on their individual developmental readiness be imprisoned, visited upon by protective services, and held up as examples of what not to do in popular media?  Am I contributing to the harm of a minor by providing this girl a safe environment in which to learn valuable skills about employment?

4)  What sorts of punishment and intervention do you advocate for the kinds of adults who would be so brash as to send their children down to the neighborhood park for 30 minutes before dinner to get their energy out while mom finishes cooking?  Or those parents who are so self-absorbed as to allow their nine year old to walk unaccompanied across the street to the school bus stop that is visible from the kitchen window?  I believe that the cases that have been in the media as of late are not interesting so much because of the behavior that is allowed/encouraged by the parent, but because of a punitive response that seems to be a bit forceful given the situation at hand.  (Imprisonment, removal of children, being forced to go through ‘remidiation’ for behaviors that you as a parent believe are key to raising resilient children, etc.)

Thank you for your response, and your thoughtful consideration of these matters which are currently a topic of public discourse. — Melanie Jones 

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108 Responses to TV Expert: No Kid Should Go Outside Alone Till Age 11, And Then Only in “Short Spurts.” UPDATE, BELOW

  1. Brooks August 22, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Do you ever challenge these idiots to a debate?

    Lordy! Usually my kids walk/ride bikes to school (riding in defiance of the school’s “safety” ban of bike riding, I might add). But today I took them since we have a scheduled event right after. At my daughter’s 4th and 5th grade school, a mom in a van held up traffic for a full 3-4 minutes because she had to watch her kid walk all the way into the building before she would leave.

  2. marie August 22, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    The idea that a child molester has hundreds of victims cracks me up.

    I have two kids and their friends hang out at our house all the time and they have for years. If I were to add up all the kids who have been in our house, knocked at the door or walked past our house over the years, though, it might come to 100. The idea of finding time, energy, and patience–not to mention the privacy–to molest each and every one of those kids exhausts me. The idea of going out to hunt up another two or three hundred kids to molest…well, let’s just say that not much else is going to get done.

  3. lollipoplover August 22, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    “Part of being a responsible parent is keeping your child out of harm’s way.”

    So no driving, ever.
    That would reduce harm to most children.

    This *expert* should not be perpetuating myths. She needs to see a medical professional herself to treat the irrational paranoia of the boogeyman in the bushes. Child molesters are known to most children and not lurking at public parks. More likely, it’s sitting on Uncle Creeper’s lap or the relative you entrust them with because they can’t be alone.

    Stop spewing nonsense and turning the basic freedom to play outdoors into criminal activity. The goal of parenting is to work yourself out of a job. Self confidence, self reliance, and self esteem can only come from learning to do things by yourself. It IS my job to be the parent. And I am not raising some mindless blob who will suddenly gain magical maturity and life skills at the age of 12.

    Times have changed.
    We are assuming that our children are complete idiots and prey to imagined boogeymans perpetuated by media hungry journalists who think a kid playing kid the can has a bullseye on his back.

  4. Nicole 2 August 22, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I’m about to send an 8 and 9 year old out to walk to school. The 9 year old is autistic, and the walk includes crossing at a busy intersection where two four lane roads meet (there is a crossing guard). Also, it’s a working class, racially integrated neighborhood (ie: many people in wealthier surrounding areas would call it a ‘bad neighborhood’)

    Horror. They’ll also be two of a hundred or so kids who walk to this school today, most unaccompanied.

  5. Maggie August 22, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    That kind of advice guarantees you will raise children.

    I want to raise SELF-SUFFICIENT ADULTS.

  6. Heather August 22, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Marie wins the Internet for the day.

  7. AnotherAnon August 22, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    In general, I tend to be leery of anyone who says that the entirety of history, and the paradigm under which children have always been raised for all eternity, is wrong, and our revolutionary new way is right. Children have been given independence and allowed to play mostly unsupervised in all locations and in all historical eras. Why is right here and right now suddenly and totally different?

  8. Guacamole August 22, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    I might have to stop reading Free Range Kids! Every new idiotic development (like this one) makes my head want to explode. Seriously, WTF is wrong with people? Oh well — if the masses all follow this kind of insane, hysterical parenting advice, there will be more opportunities in life for kids like mine, who were not raised in stifling cocoons and will have actually acquired some life skills, confidence and common sense by the time they reach adulthood.

  9. Nicole 2 August 22, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    What I find interesting is she is a psychologist and implies that her education provides her with a unique experience, yet her advice is in direct conflict with the advice of other psychologists. She also ignores the sociocultural norms that may be influencing her opinion, and is downright shaming to parents who may not have the time or ability to supervise their child 24/7.

    Honestly, my guess is she sees herself at the next pop psychologist, rather than having a firm grip on solid psychological theories and current research.

  10. Dirk. August 22, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    While I 100% know Ruskin is a nut and again 100% that the world is a safe place, ROSL often comes off as looney tunes. They constantly parade out the guy who didn’t know she was under 18 or the dad accused of assaulting a baby sitter. I find their work hard to get behind because it looks like they are saying there is no such thing as sexual assault. 56% of sexual assaults are against people over the age of 18. 15% are committed against children under 12. Anyway…

    That website ROSL leaves out the fact, from the same study it cites about sex crime recidivism rates, that 43& of sex offenders once released return to jail for another crime after being released and that 24% are convicted again for another crime after being released. Another similar study found that 42% of offenders re-offended (either a sex crime, violent crime, or both) after they were released. Risk for re-offense was highest in the first 6 years after release, but continued to be significant even 10–31 years later, with 23% offending during this time. Another study had relatively similar results stating that child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 37% reconviction rate for new, non-sex offenses over a five year period; and

    BOJ Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994, November 2003

    Hanson RK, Steffy RA, Gauthier R (August 1993). “Long-term recidivism of child molesters”. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 61 (4): 646–52. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.61.4.646. PMID 8370860.

    A 20+% of criminal recidivism isn’t a low number…

  11. common sense August 22, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    anotheranon, they need to claim their way is the only way, they need to fear monger..if they don’t succeed a generation will grow up capable and able to think..they need them to grow up in fear and dependent.. otherwise how can the masses be trained to depend on the government to take care of them and so senslessly obey even the stupidest of rules and laws because “they know best”. this is social engeneering of the most insidious form. if people question authority, then authority is in danger, can’t have that can we. i would not be surprised if in the stone age the headman would say”do as i say ,there’s alion out there, you need me to protect you from it”. only then and until now there was always someone to say”lion? i don’t see a lion”. where are those people now?

  12. mystic_eye August 22, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    If it is unsafe for a child of 10 to walk to the mailbox and back then society needs to change. How can you willingly live in a world where that is ok and not try to change it? I know that there are neighbourhoods like this, and even countries like this, but is anyone in these places particularly with children thinking “This is great”. I think not. They’re trying to get out, make a better life, change it, take back the street, fight a civil war, whatever it takes to fix it. I don’t deny that some in these situations will give up hope and stop trying but to suggest that it’s simply ok? Disgusting.

    Then again, this is why Fox “news” wouldn’t be allowed to exist in my country – it could not meet the laws, lax though they are, for truth in news.

  13. Melanie Jones August 22, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    My comment at Dr. Ruskin’s website is awaiting moderation, so I will post it here. I do hope she does take a moment to clarify some of her points. I am genuinely interested in hearing more about her views than she was able to express in her three minute interview.

    “I watched your recent interview which was featured on a blog I follow called “Free Range Kids”. I have a few questions I hoped you could clarify, as the interview was very short. I am also going through your blog posts to get a more clear understanding of your point of view as I don’t want to be disrespectful just because this clip makes you appear (to me) to hold a point of view that is vastly different from my own.

    1) What harm do you believe is being prevented by ensuring that a child is never left unsupervised even for a minute before age 13? I would like to make sure that the harm being prevented outweighs the harm of the kind of intense supervision you seem to be encouraging.

    2) Do you think it is possible your work with people that are struggling has given you a skewed view of what the world is actually like? For example, I was a very happy latchkey kid with extremely involved parents. It is unlikely you would see me in your office.

    3) I pay a very responsible twelve year old in my neighborhood to babysit my three children for up to two hours once a month or so. She is an outstanding student and cellist, and in fact a much more attentive and reliable sitter than many of the college students we have employed. She appears to me to have had a very loving upbringing, though by your standards I suppose she has been “parentified”. (The main side effect of this upbringing appears to be that she has become an incredibly articulate and mature young woman.) Should parents who allow their children to experience increasing levels of independence based on their individual developmental readiness be imprisoned, visited upon by protective services, and held up as examples of what not to do in popular media? Am I contributing to the harm of a minor by providing this girl a safe environment in which to learn valuable skills about employment?

    4) What sorts of punishment and intervention do you advocate for the kinds of adults who would be so brash as to send their children down to the neighborhood park for 30 minutes before dinner to get their energy out while mom finishes cooking? Or those parents who are so self-absorbed as to allow their nine year old to walk unaccompanied across the street to the school bus stop that is visible from the kitchen window? I believe that the cases that have been in the media as of late are not interesting so much because of the behavior that is allowed/encouraged by the parent, but because of a punitive response that seems to be a bit forceful given the situation at hand. (Imprisonment, removal of children, being forced to go through ‘remidiation’ for behaviors that you as a parent believe are key to raising resilient children, etc.)

    Thank you for your response, and your thoughtful consideration of these matters which are currently a topic of public discourse.”

  14. anonymous mom August 22, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    @marie, there is literally NO POSSIBLE WAY those numbers make sense, and it shows how hysterical people are around this topic that so many believe it. You are totally right that it’s simply practically impossible. Not only would it be nearly impossible for most people to have access to that many children in any capacity–and then, on top of that, the ability to be alone with them–but if the average stranger child molester had 150-200 victims, as often cited, and you extrapolate out the math (using things like the percentage of sex crimes that are reported and those that aren’t), you end up with a situation where every child in the U.S. would have had to have been molested by multiple strangers for the numbers to work.

    Having looked at where this myth came from, it’s from a study that took self-reports from convicted child molesters. The AVERAGE number of children they reported molesting was 150. However, the MEDIAN number was 1.2 for those that molested girls and 4.4 for those that molested boys. That means that you have a few men reporting molesting over a thousand children, which totally throws off the numbers. When you have extreme outliers, you can’t rely on averages, and medians are much more accurate.

    And, I don’t believe the men who reported molesting hundreds or a thousand children were telling the truth. I can think of a few reasons why they’d lie:

    1. People lie. We know that there are some criminals who compulsively confess to crimes. Some serial killers, for example, have confessed to many more hundreds of crimes than it’s possible for them to have committed.

    2. In some treatment programs, “confessing” to more victims is incentivized. Men who deny having more victims are told they are “in denial” and not allowed privileges. Men who confess to more and more victims are applauded for being honest and taking responsibility, and are given privileges. If you are already serving an extremely long prison sentence, or are in for life, then why not keep confessing to more victims in order to make your therapists happy and get privileges?

    3. In some treatment programs, “abuse” is so broadly defined that basically any encounter between a person convicted of a sex offense and a child is considered abusive. If they hugged a child, even if there was nothing outwardly inappropriate about the hug, that’s abuse. If they talked to a child, even if the talk was outwardly appropriate, that’s abuse. In some cases, if they even saw a child and had a thought about molesting them, that’s abuse. Basically any encounter at all with a child gets redefined as an abuse episode.

    But, I think #1 is most likely, and we’re just dealing with lying. In any case, it’s pretty obvious, in terms of both common sense and research, that most child molesters who molest strangers have relatively small numbers of victims.

  15. anonymous mom August 22, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    @Dirk, I don’t know why I’m even bothering to reply to you, but I’m not sure if you’re aware that, for many types of crimes, including sex offenses, “reoffenses” are often probation violations. Probation terms can be extremely stringent, and many people, regardless of the offense they are arrested for, end up violating and therefore being convicted of another offense.

    For sex offenders, the stakes are higher, because they not only have to abide by probation terms, but also the registry, which many are on for decades or life. So, a registered sex offender who has not committed a crime for twenty years but who fails or forgets to register a new e-mail address or a new car or a new place of employment with the police within the given time frame (in some cases, only several days) has violated the registry, and in many states that is a felony. In some states, it’s actually a felony sex crime, even though the offense did not involve sex.

    It’s honestly shocking that we don’t see recidivism rates of more than 20%, when it’s so incredibly easy to violate the registry and thereby reoffend.

  16. anonymous mom August 22, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Oh, and Dirk, if you think that wanting to see sex offender registration laws reformed means that people are denying that sexual abuse exists or is serious, what do you make of the fact that no other country in the entire world has a public registry of the nature of that in the U.S.?

    Only two or three other countries have any sort of public registry, and in those it’s only violent, repeat offenders and/or wanted violent, repeated offenders who are listed. (For comparison, last I checked, the U.S. sex offender registry had over 750K people listed on it. Australia, one of the few countries with a public list, had just over 2K. If we controlled for population, the U.S. registry should have about 25K people on it if it registered people at the rate that Australia does, not 30 times that.)

    Does no country in continental Europe care about the safety of children? Are children there wildly at risk? From every statistic I’ve seen, children in those countries are just as safe–and in many cases safer–than children in the U.S. If sex offender registries make us safe, and we register so many more men than any other nation, shouldn’t children in the U.S. be abused at rates far, far below that of other nations? However, that is NOT the case, and in many cases rates of abuse here are significantly higher. How do proponents of the registry explain that?

  17. Becky August 22, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    My daughter is not yet two. All the time I hear from people about how she’s “So independent!”, “Not afraid of anything!”, “So outgoing!”, and a real kicker, “I don’t think my kid would have been willing/able to do that at her age.”

    My daughter is not special (except, perhaps in my eyes). She is just not overprotected, coddled, or prevented from having important kid experiences like falling off swings and dealing with issues on her own. It’s not that we’re raising her any way that’s different or revolutionary, its just that all of her little cohorts are being raised as if they were made of glass. So by comparison, her not being overly timid, comes off as her brimming with natural confidence.

  18. Katie August 22, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Instead of locking up the woman who let her child play at the neighborhood park, they should be locking up this fear-mongering idiot for saying such idiotic things. We have a child obesity epidemic in this country right now because people like this woman believe children should not be allowed to go outside to play. Unless, of course, a parent quits her job and does nothing all day but stand over their child while he/she gets exercise. This woman is a nut job, and the people who reported that poor woman in Florida to police should themselves be the subject of judicial action for malicious prosecution.

  19. Donna August 22, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    That is not even what “parentifying” means!!! Parentifying is a term of art in psychology and this “psychologist” is using it totally wrong. It absolutely doesn’t mean that children are allowed, or even required, to do age-appropriate things for themselves, like walk the dog or bike to a friends. It means that a child is taking on the role of the parent towards younger siblings or the actual parents themselves or often both.

    I wonder how child molesters survive. It would be impossible to work. Molesting more than 100 different kids must take up all their time.

  20. Nicole August 22, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    If you consider that this expert is a licensed therapist with a vested interest in making sure we raise a new generation of emotionally damaged children so that she can continue to make an income, her advice starts to make more sense.

  21. Paul August 22, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    My mother was not exactly what you would call the model of free range parenting. She is a fairly typical Italian housewife who was (and still is) rather overprotective. And yet even she granted us freedoms that would appall these ninnies. Having to walk me to school until 11 years old? Yeah, that would not have been cool.

  22. Lex August 22, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    What an idiot. I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t want that dingbat anywhere near me or my children. I’d bet that something will come out sooner or later about why her imagination is so perverse.

    But like someone already said, it’s Faux News. It’s not mean to be true, just meant to make people afraid and helpless. The more afraid and helpless people are, the more TV they watch, so the TV peddles fear and helplessness.

    This country has a great history of youngsters taking on adult responsibilities and learning to be competent and brave. Look at David Farragut. She doesn’t want her kid to be part of that tradition, and he won’t be. Mine will.

  23. Dave August 22, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    This is just unbelievable. My grandson goes to the park alone every Saturday for hours at a time. He is learn how to skateboard from so older kids at the skateboard park. He gets into pick up baseball games with friend that he meets. He is 10. He has been doing it from a while never has there been an incident. He lives in Brooklyn. Our fear is unfounded. Could something happen? Of course. That’s the thing about growing up. It involves taking calculated risks.

    I was out alone at ten as where most of the people who are now telling us that it is irresponsible to let our kids do what we were allowed to do. Will the foolishness ever stop.

  24. Tljb August 22, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    I think the woman’s last comment sums up her whole philosophy… it’s all about how the child feels about the way the parent is parenting them. Bullshit.

    My child feels neglected when I don’t buy her a stuff toy every time we go out to the store. If I spent all my time making my children feel like they are the centre of my universe I would be doing a major disservice to their future selves.

  25. Neil M. August 22, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    That expert sounds like someone you’d meet at a party or at the bar, holding forth on some topic but saying nothing more than what lay people already believe — often incorrectly. Is this a video by The Onion?

  26. Jill August 22, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Fox News. ‘Nuff said. You can expect a saner perspective on the world from the guy who lives in a cardboard box behind the liquor store, who thinks the CIA is controlling his thoughts through long-range hypnosis.

  27. Rob August 22, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    This “expert” is a dangerous idiot.

  28. Zed Fechten August 22, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Given the dates of the studies you cite, the authors were almost certainly using data from the years violent crime, including rape and sexual assault, peaked in the US. It’s been dropping ever since.

    Maybe the recidivism rate hasn’t decreased with the crime rate, but more recent studies would be more convincing.

  29. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Why is there no accountability?

    Why can a lunatic go on camera, use their credentials, be called an expert by the media, then go on to spout lies and myths as truths to influence and frighten the viewing audience?

    I checked out her facebook. On this story she had a few people challenge her data and logic. On person supported her with a comment “Behind you 100%. You go girl”. Dr. Karen took the time to thank her for her input and support. But ignored everyone else.

    Does anyone even know what degree she has to make her a doctor? For all we know she has a doctorate in art.

  30. MichaelF August 22, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Well since it’s FOX and I decide..I decide it’s WRONG!!

    ’nuff said.

    Is parentifying even a word?

  31. SKL August 22, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    She’s a loon. I just hope it’s as obvious to other parents as it is to me.

    She got paid for spewing that nonsense. Lord help us.

    Again – she is a psychotherapist, that means she deals with messed up people / kids, including kids who have been victimized. But even so, she of all people should know that kids are more likely to be victimized if they are kept behind closed doors with a “trusted adult.”

  32. SKL August 22, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    I’m pretty excited for my kids today. I just found out that they are now going to have bus service to their school (which is 5 miles away). They will walk to the bus stop and back and then play outside on their own (I will be in the house working). No more supervised aftercare! I don’t appreciate fearmongering idiots trying to dampen our excitement.

  33. SKL August 22, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    OK, I just went to her blog. Not only does her writing reflect a lack of intelligence and mental balance, but I don’t see any indication that she is a parent.

    Years of giving sucky advice plus a lot of psychology classes do not a valued expert make.

    Makes me wonder how Fox chose this idiot for the interview.

  34. anonymous mom August 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    On the “parentifying” issue, I think it’s really sad that this “expert” so muddled the issue. Are there cases where children are genuinely left to try to parent themselves? Yes, and it usually involves things like parental addiction or mental illness, where the child is left to fend for themselves (and sometimes to actually take care of their parent). Those are sad situations, and the families need support.

    However, saying that allowing a child to walk to school or play outside unsupervised is having them “act like a parent” is asinine. As a parent, I don’t walk to school or play in the front yard. 😉 Those are things KIDS do, not parents. Allowing your child to do them unsupervised is simply allowing them to be a kid in a context of trust and appropriately-divided responsibility. When my kids play outside (at the ages that they are), it’s my responsibility to make sure they have and understand appropriate boundaries, and that I’m available if they need me; it’s their responsibility to respect the boundaries I’ve set and to problem-solve as best as they can (we are working right now on realizing you do not need to scream for mom for every little thing).

    I’d say it’s failing to parent if you do not assign your children age-appropriate responsibilities, and it’s extremely unhelpful and potentially damaging to suggest that anything less than constant parental oversight is “parentifying.”

  35. gap.runner August 22, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    That woman should not be allowed in public unsupervised for any period of time! She belongs in a lunatic asylum and should have an attendant with her at all times for her own protection. After all, she must be kept safe (and we sane people must be kept safe from her). But what else should I expect from Fox “News.”

    If she came to my city in Germany and spouted that nonsense, the parents would chase her out of town with pitchforks and torches. Kids here play unattended from a fairly early age. They also walk to school by themselves in first grade, which is age 6-7. In Europe parents realize that they are raising adults and not kids and want them to be independent. Does she expect that when US kids turn 18, the parents are going to go to university with them and live in their dorm rooms?

    How many kids live in the neighborhood that was described as having hundreds of sex offenders near the park? If each of those hundreds of sex offenders molested over 100 kids, that neighborhood would have a minimum of 10,000 kids!

  36. BL August 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    If people weren’t so effectively taught from childhood to feel utterly helpless, “psychotherapists” like “Doctor” Ruskin would have to get real jobs.

  37. jimc5499 August 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    It all comes down to money. Dr. Ruskin has to parrot this BS, because if people found out the truth, there would be no need for these so called “experts” like Dr. Ruskin. The sex offender lists are the same way. If the lists only contained people who were an actual threat, people would be able to see how small the threat actually is. By inflating the numbers on the lists it makes the problem look greater than it is. The media knows that anything concerning children will raise their ratings, so they go along. The politicians don’t want to have their opposition saying that they are soft on child molestation, so they go along with increases in funding.

  38. Glen August 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Oh my Gosh, so it is better to have anemic, scrawny, muscle atrophied kids in the name of safety? If the mass media continues to give this ridiculous advice air time, I fear for the future of our nation. My kid actually was approached by a guy in a car, it was reported, and he the guy was located. We made sure he knew what to do and he was out playing after dinner. Now he is an adult with muscles and good skin tone.

  39. Dirk. August 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I also sent an email to Ruskin.

    However, I am not inclined to give a rats ass about what happens to someone who commits a sexual assault. I do not care if there is a public sex offender registry (it would appear that there would always be a registry of a type available to the police because off probation records). Realistically a little more than half of these people are in there for rape or attempted rape. The other half are for sexual assaults. I don’t care at all about the registry. But when you talk about reform you should be really careful to not imply that the people on there are all 19 year olds who had sex with a high school sophomore. It isn’t the case.

  40. Daughter of a child molester August 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Those of you who think it is impossibly time consuming for a child molester to molest a hundred kids are making the mistake of comparing your lifestyle to theirs. Child molesters seek positions where they have greater access to children. I know for a fact that my own father molested at least a dozen girls in just one year- the year I was 8- the girls told me (they didn’t tell anybody else because none of us felt like we’d be believed, and, indeed, when I finally did tell somebody as a young teen, I was not believed).

    He had access because he was their pastor as well as being a licensed psychologist. He chose vulnerable kids (most of the other girls were foster kids already). That was just one year. If he continued to molest children over the course of his life, and I have absolutely no reason to believe he didn’t, he could easily have molested far more than a hundred children.

    He chose professions and community service projects that gave him access to children – school counselor, social worker, pastor, school administrator, security guard in a juvenile facility, foster parent. That’s why he could easily have molested over a hundred kids during a time-frame most of you wouldn’t even see a hundred kids. His contacts with vulnerable kids were deliberate, he was looking for them. You’re assuming that child molesters have the same casual, happenstance approach to kids that you do.

    That said, monster that he was, kids walking down the street were in no danger from him, and Dr. Ruskin’s advice is nonsense.

  41. Dirk. August 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Here is the link to the news story on Boston Fox. The one provided at the top of the page doesn’t take you to the story.

  42. Dirk. August 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Let Fox New know how you feel…

  43. Emily August 22, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    1. I was a “latchkey kid,” starting at twelve, which my parents told me was the minimum allowable age in Ontario. I enjoyed having time to myself after school, and I never felt “uncared for,” or “parentified” for it.

    2. So, if your child is out in the world, and someone else helps them, you’ve “abdicated your role as a parent?” Suppose little Jimmy is walking to school, and it’s -20 C outside. His parents would have driven him, but his dad is at work, and his mom’s car is in the shop. So, Jimmy’s friend Susie is being driven by her mother, and they stop and pick Jimmy up, and take him to school along with Susie. Does that mean that Jimmy’s parents are bad parents, who’ve put an unfair burden on Susie’s parents? Not if all parties are okay with this, and definitely not if Jimmy’s parents are the kind of people who’d reciprocate, if Susie’s family was ever in a similar jam. Or, what if it was a situation that really couldn’t be planned for, like if a child fell at the playground, and one of the parents who was there with a younger child, gave the injured child a Band-Aid? That used to be normal when I was a kid, but now, I guess it’s an “abdication of parenting.”

    3. Further to #2, what does this “doctor” think when ADULTS help each other out? For example, I don’t have a car right now, so I walk or take public transit everywhere. Early in the “spring” (air quotes because “calendar spring” and “real spring” are two completely different things in Canada), I went to an evening Zumba class being taught by a colleague and friend of mine. This was in early April. While we were doing Zumba, it started to snow outside, so by the time I went to leave, it was pitch-black and snowing. Colleague noticed this, and drove me home. She didn’t ask me if I wanted a ride; she said, “It’s pretty dark and cold out. Emily, where do you live?” Does this mean I’d “abdicated my responsibility as an independent adult?” Oh, and I’m subbing her Pilates class with yoga this coming Sunday. Does that mean that my friend has “abdicated her responsibility as a fitness instructor” because I’m helping her? I don’t think so–it’s just how the world works sometimes. Life isn’t perfect, so we help each other out, until we start perpetuating the idea that that’s wrong, which kills goodwill and community.

    4. I hate to “go there,” but this “psychologist” says that you can’t leave kids alone for even a short time until they’re eleven years old, and you can’t leave kids alone for longer periods of time until they’re twelve or thirteen. Guess what tends to happen for human beings around age twelve and thirteen? That’s right–sexual maturity. I know it sounds far-fetched, but the first of my friends to have a baby, was fourteen at the time, which meant she probably conceived the baby at thirteen. So, it’s probably not a good idea to wait until a child is old enough to make a mistake of that magnitude, to give them any kind of freedom or independence at all. I’m not saying that there’s a 100% chance of this happening every time, but it does happen. It’s just another variation on the “Child is sheltered from age 0-18, then goes hog wild at university” theme.

  44. Amy August 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    She’s a “doctor” from one of these for-profit online mills who’s a Fox darling. Who’s surprised? At least she’s not suggesting you open-carry as you walk your kid to school. You know, so you can take out all those predators on the way.

  45. Nadine August 22, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    And in a society that still tries preteens at adults in their courtroom… Its sanctimonious BS.

    And parentifying, seriously!!.. Did she pull that out of her own arse or did she regurgitate it straight from swallowing someone else’s BS?

  46. SKL August 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    @Emily #4: right, and also, statistically kids are increasingly vulnerable (to abduction / rape) as they pass through puberty and adolescence. So it does not make sense to suddenly say “you’re on your own” just at that age. Street smarts don’t magically develop without street experience.

  47. Jennifer August 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Wow! When I read the title, I thought this was a joke. How sad. I’m so grateful to live in a rural town where it’s normal for little kids to play outside, ride bikes alone, and take a trip to a convenience store for a candy bar with only a friend or sibling. How sad that some people think like this woman and treat competent children like infants.

  48. anonymous mom August 22, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    @Dirk: This is a story from just today.

    The 17 and 18 year old young men this teen was freely, willingly exchanging nude pics with will in all likelihood be charged with felony sex crimes and put on a registry. The minimum time on the registry in VA is 15 years, and they may end up with 25.

    These young men did not rape anybody. Nor did they commit sexual assault. But, they will very likely end up as registered sex offenders. And this is just a story from this morning. Cases like this happen EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you don’t give a crap about young men having their lives ruined because of dumb choices they made regarding images or online conversations with willing, eager, post-pubescent teen girls, but please stop pretending that there aren’t plenty of men on the registry for just that.

  49. Dhewco August 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    I wish people would stop blaming Fox News for this. I’ve heard similar stuff from MSNBC and CNN. (I really wish I’d had the links, but I’m too lazy to look them up.) It’s not Fox News’ fault, it’s the way News isn’t really about the truth anymore, it’s about what sells. Terror gets people in the seats. Reminds me of an Ellen bit where she comments about Dinner lead-ins to the 11 o’clock news.
    Announcer: Well, that’s your 6 o’clock evening news. Tune in tonight at 11, where we discuss how what you’re eating now may kill you.

    Ellen mimics lifting a spoon to her mouth: Is it Peas???? Tell me now, Is it Peas?

    Sensationalism sells, if they told all about how it is more likely that that college friend (you know, the one who’s always offering to watch your daughter…just to give you a break) is the one who will molest your kid, people would blast them for that. Unfortunately, the people who refuse to suspect their friends and believe a ‘stranger’ is a danger (sorry) seem to outnumber those who know the truth.

    Since they’re more of them, the News agencies will go after their viewership and thus more stories like this go out.

    Just my two cents.

  50. Dee August 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Oh, my God. This woman is a WING NUT. Really. My son is 12. According to her I have to wait until next year until he can walk to school or be left alone at home. Wow. Oh, and when I was a latchkey kid at his age and younger, that was so wrong. I guess I’m just a menace to society. Thankfully, a smaller one than she is.

  51. lollipoplover August 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Sensationalizing kids safety with false information only increases business for Dr. Ruskin. She knows exactly what’s she’s doing. She will have these kids and their parents on her couch soon to treat for anxiety disorders.

    After listening to this nonsense, I found it refreshing to read in our community newsletter a Back to School Safety Checklist that read like REALLY good advise:

    “Whether children walk, ride their bicycles or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they take proper safety precautions. Here are some tips to make sure your child safely travels to school.
    Walking to school
    Review your family’s walking safety rules. Practice walking to school with your child.
    *Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
    *Before crossing, stop and look all ways to see if cars are coming.
    *Never dart in front of a parked car.

    Riding a bicycle to school
    Make sure your child always wears a helmet when leaving the house. Teach your children the rules of the road they need to know to ride their bicycles.
    *Ride along the right side of the road and in single file.
    *Come to a complete stop before crossing the street.

    Riding the bus to school
    Go to the bus stop with your child to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus.
    *Make sure your children stand six feet away from the curb.
    *If your child needs to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the road until you are 10 feet ahead of the bus.
    *You should always be able to see the bus driver, and the bus driver should always be able to see you.

    Teach your children well.
    Kids can only prove they are competent and worthy of our trust if given the opportunity. The biggest danger is never given them the chance.

  52. Reziac August 22, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    My observation across the years is that therapists and psychologists are often the craziest people around, having gotten into the profession as a way to validate and enable their own psychological issues.

    Well, here’s another example supporting my theory!

  53. Darleen August 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Other people have expressed what they think of this therapist’s assertions on how to keep your kid an infant until they turn into an adult MAGICALLY at 18 …

    She obviously isn’t the only one. Look at how public schools treat normal boy behavior and criminalize things like pop tarts chewed into a gunnish-type style.

    BTW, why the knocking of FoxNews because they bring on a commentator? Does CNN/ABC/NBC/CBS/MSNBC with their own myriad of commentators and “experts” not do the same thing? Does no one know the difference anymore between news and commentary?

    When I was growing up, my dad got me started reading the newspaper when I was ten. Then we’d discuss everything from current events to editorials over the dinner table. And since my dad was in advertising, we discuss that, too.

    Besides teaching your kids responsibility in their behaviors, brush up on how to analyze ALL mass media correctly before teaching that to your kids, too.


  54. Bernard August 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    It is bad enough that so many adults in modern democracies harm their children by not allowing them adventure, curiosity and the freedom – which gave our forefathers the wherewithal to make our countries great. . . Yet, it is exponentially worse since the arrival of psychological mercenaries who display no shame in their exploitation of paranoia; expanding upon it by spouting out platitudes which do no less than render our children submissive to exploitation and incapable of handling any difficulty they will eventually encounter. How disgusting!!!

  55. Dirk. August 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Hey AM,

    • Overall, 23% of sexual assault offenders were under the age of 18 and 77% were adults.

    – Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement, 7/00, NCJ 182990, U.S. Department of Justice

    And what percent of that 23% are total consensual stuff? A study at Brown University found that statutory rape cases often included allegations of physical force and coercion, running contrary to ideas of “young love.” But to address sexual relations in which all participants are below the age of consent, or which involve an offender close in age to the minor, some states have enacted what have been called “Romeo and Juliet laws.”

    But to respond to your link. Those 17 and 18 year olds who were sending nude pics were sending them to person who just graduate from 7th grade, according to the article your sent. So yeah, they are idiots who deserve what they are getting. When you were in 7th would it have been ok for 17 and 18 year old young men to be exchanging nude pictures with you and trying to solicit you for sex? I can’t imagine being in high school and thinking yeah, it is really a great idea to try and have sex with a girl about to enter 8th grader.

  56. EricS August 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    Booksmart. Common sense stupid. People like this do exist.

    The worse part, is that they think because they went to school and got a degree, for all that memorizing of books and notes, they are smarter than the rest of us. Yet, they cannot even fathom the logic and reasoning behind such an age old, tried, tested, and true way of raising children.

    They have forgotten that they too were raised to be independent. As were their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc… For as long as humans have been around.

    When one cannot see the bigger picture, and only concentrate on their narrow minded views (remember, they are human, susceptible to the same paranoia, and irrational thinking as anyone else), they are not being very smart. Scientists explore all possibilities, even the ones they think can be far fetch. Just so they can eliminate variables to come to a solid conclusion. And more times than not, it’s this “out of the box” thinking that comes up with the best answers.

    Even if you have a PHD, and common sense tells me you have no clue what your are talking about, I trust my common sense. Sadly, society relies too much on people of “authority”. Especially the ones that tell them what they want to hear. It’s a terrible cycle.

  57. EricS August 22, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    @ Daughter of a child molester: That just proves even more that most assaults, kidnappings, molesting, abuse, etc… on children, are done by someone they already know and trust. That the whole “stranger danger” is a fallacy. Yet “stranger danger” is the basis that many of the fearful people today, including Dr. Ruskin, stand by.

    Apologies for sounding like a broken record, but THE BEST way to protect our children, is to teach them to protect themselves. And sheltering them is the complete opposite of that. It’s already proven that children are extremely resilient. They are capable of learning moderately by the age of 2. More complex things by the age of 5. Generations past have proven that you start educating the your kids with the right information, and right tools at an early age, it becomes more instinct as they get older. The later you start them, the harder it will be for them to comprehend, understand, and implement. Because they would be too scared, and not even understand why. Only that their parents tell them so. So either the parents teach a negative attitude in their kids, or a positive one.

  58. Piotr1600 August 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Graduated responsibilities & graduated experiences, based on the capabilities, capacities, and the maturity of each child as an individual. Being involved, being emotionally & physically available to parent.Showing how to be a good person by example. Understanding how they think, and staying ahead of them so that you can *gently* guide them away from things that they’re not ready to handle, or to guide them into things that they *are* ready for.

    They’re individual people, not puppies who must be crated daily for over a decade, and only allowed out to pee. How you treat each child is going to be based on how that child’s personality, how they learn, and what they like/don’t like – they’re *not* interchangeable cogs in some machine!

    The whole point of good parenting is to get your sane, happy, healthy children to adulthood prepared to live in and *thrive* in the world the way it really is.

    Not fill them with fear, deprive them of the life-experiences, tools, and relationships that will help sustain & partially define who they are as adults.

    I fear – deeply – for our children, if these recommendations are the standard of parenting now. Seriously I’m not sure what this ‘TV expert’ is raising, but it sounds more like completely dependent neurotic house pets than human children.

  59. Leslie August 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Does Dr. Karen Ruskin even have children of her own?

  60. John August 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Quote: “and if you trust your kids to walk the dog or bike to a friend’s, you are guilty of “parentifying” your child — turning the child into an adult.”

    Goodness gracious this lady is absolutely nuts! Walking the dog and biking to a friend’s house is the epitome of childhood! Some of the greatest memories I have is of biking up to my friend, Kevin Miller’s house, when I was 9 to play army with our toy guns and our little toy soldiers. I also used to walk my elderly neighbor’s dog, Brownie, around the block when I was 10 and got paid a quarter each time! Well, I think I’ve turned out OK. At least I’m not a deranged mass murderer who was abducted and molested while riding my bike and walking the dog when I was a child!

    I could not get into the video from my work computer to see the interview but many of you here are blasting Fox News. So was she not challenged by the person interviewing her? Goodness, she should have been. If I recall correctly, at least the panel on “Fox & Friends” did think it was crazy that a parent would be arrested for merely allowing their 7-year-old child to walk to the park by himself, citing the fact that they did that all the time when they were kids.

    On the other hand, that nut Wendy Murphy sex crimes Prosecutor, is a much too frequent guest on that network particularly on “The O’Reilly Factor” and if it would be up to her, she would probably charge adults with a sex crime for merely winking at a cute 5-year-old child in Wal*Mart. Then according to the rantings of Judge Janine Shapiro, there are pedophiles EVERYWHERE! But on a positive note, John Stossel offers a good balance to all that nonsense and does attempt to rein Shapiro and O’Reilly in by pointing out the pitfalls of mandatory minimums and “Jessica’s Law”. Geraldo Rivera has also gone on the O’Reilly Factor and expressed some reservations, courageously I might add, about “Jessica’s Law”.

    But then again, Nancy Grace who I believe has or had a show on CNN, is not much better and she too seems to be afflicted with pedophila-phobia. I guess the media in general just loves that type of fear-mongering!

  61. John August 22, 2014 at 4:11 pm #


    Quote: “My observation across the years is that therapists and psychologists are often the craziest people around, having gotten into the profession as a way to validate and enable their own psychological issues.

    Well, here’s another example supporting my theory!”

    You sure hit the nail on the head there Reziac!!! My sentiments exactly!

  62. Laura W August 22, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    My free range children are going to be so ahead and advantaged in the adult world, just from the responsibilities and freedoms they’ve had from young ages. I don’t know whether to be happy and proud, or to despair at the sad state our nation will be in because so many have raised children who are dependent and fearful even into adulthood.

  63. Donna August 22, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Guys this is not Fox News. This is a local Boston TV station that happens to be owned by the Fox Broadcasting Company (as is Fox News). Completely different thing. The Fox Broadcasting Company owns many TV stations and cable networks that are completely separate from Fox News.

  64. Jessica August 22, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Have you seen this nonsense?! Creative Writing apparently doesn’t want you to get too creative or you’ll be arrested.

    Still waiting for an update on whether the dinosaurs body has been found yet.

  65. Liz August 22, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I have to ask: does something magical happen on a kid’s birthday that suddenly makes them more capable or mature than they were the day before? Because I don’t see that. It seems arbitrary to assign a specific date for every single child, since kids develop at different speeds, and who is better at judging this than a parent or caregiver?
    Am I just thinking way too logically here?

  66. Donald August 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Dr Ruskin is only trying to get a reaction. This is the same as when Lenore offered a class, “I won’t supervise your kids”. If her view wasn’t outrageous enough, she would change her stance to be even more outrageous.

    BTW, people like her was what I was mocking on a previous response. “Children should be nurtured and never let out until they reach 22 years of age. This is when the backbone angel will grant them a spine. At this time they will become self reliant”.

  67. SOA August 22, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    And we wonder why college kids cannot handle even minor things without their parents stepping in. Because apparently they cannot even handle playing outside by themselves for a few minutes until 11 years of age.

    I was allowed to play unattended in the front and back yard pretty much from age 3 on. I was allowed to go in our cul de sac alone about age 5 and wander around out of the yard. I was allowed to stay home alone at 9. I was allowed to sit in the car alone while my mom ran into the store at about 8. I was allowed to babysit other kids starting at 11 or 12 and before that I was trusted to watch kids for a few minutes by themselves at younger ages. I was left overnight by my parents at 16 for whole weekends on my own.

    I was a very independent and smart and well behaved child so not all kids can handle those things at those ages, each child is different, but to say all kids cannot handle even playing in their own yard alone till 11 is nuts. Nuts.

    I let my autistic son play alone in our unfenced yard at 7 and he has been doing it about since 5 and I give him more leeway the older he gets. Pretty soon I am going to let him and his brother walk down the street alone to play with friends and from there we will progress to walking all the way to school alone. So yeah, if my autistic son can do it, I think saying a 10 year old can’t is pretty funny.

  68. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm #


    Piss off will ya. It is getting as bad a SOA.

  69. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

    We had a get together the other night, and we got to talking about how things have changed. How parents really suck these days.

    One of my friends runs the office for a family business of atv, snowmobiles, and pretty much anything with a small engine. She was saying that just as many moms tried to drop off resumes as did students looking for work. God love her, she did say “tried” because she would not accept the ones from mom, and told mom not to bother to send the kid in. And I agree, any kid that has mom doing this, isn’t suited for the workplace.
    This friend said she has had moms call and complain about interviews, and come in and complaing about little whoever not getting the job.

    What the hell is going on?

  70. bmj2k August 23, 2014 at 12:51 am #

    Do these 11 year-olds also still have pacifiers and diapers? This is just prolonging childhood, and teaching kids exactly ZERO of the lessons they need to get along in life. (Not to mention teaching them all the wrong ones too.)

    Unless you want them to live a life of fear and ignorance, that is.

  71. SKL August 23, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Speaking of diapers, this reminds me of a doctor somewhere who wrote that no child should be asked to eliminate anywhere except in a diaper until age 4. Suggesting that maybe there’s an alternative to sitting in crap causes all manner of horrible lifelong problems. (I suppose going to the toilet before age 4 is parentification or something.)

    And the vast majority of us are proof of this, I’m sure.

  72. SKL August 23, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Back to my 7yos and their first school bus experience. My kids have had a day to think this over. One of them is a serious planner, so I’m sure she’s gone over every possible scenario in her mind. Tonight the bus topic came up and she said, “yeah, but you can’t be off somewhere [away from home] when it’s time for us to be dropped off by the school bus.” I said, “don’t worry, you will never come home to an empty house until you are older. When I decide you are old enough, I will give you a key.” That satisfied her. 🙂

    The psychotherapist lady says young kids are not aware enough to watch out for themselves. My 7yo is very observant – more so than I am. She is also pretty good at gauging other people’s motives (ulterior and otherwise). Both of my kids have a pretty good survival instinct. Certainly not less than kids in my generation, most of whom were aware enough to remain alive to adulthood.

    I suppose that lady would gag and die if she knew I sent my kids alone to various public bathrooms etc. in foreign countries (where we were only visiting for a day). Oddly enough, the kids always came back. I guess they are scarred for life.

  73. Game Compass August 23, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    Netter Post. Ähnlich geil, wie das Spielen auch. So verschrieen spielen auch sei, so steht ja zum Glück
    fest, dass daddeln, ein dem Alter angemessenes Game vorausgesetzt, förderlich für den Geist sein kann.
    Beim Daddeln von Games lernt man fernab vom Alltag in höherer Frequenz Urteile zu fällen und seine
    Prioritäten neu zu gewichten. Einige Games vermitteln darüber hinaus auch Kenntnisse über Management und fördern logisches Denken. Auch die verrissenen MMOs können doch manchmal den vorgeworfenen Effekt des Abdriftens in eine falsche Realität}
    umkehren. Der Spielende kann wohl auch einigen wenigen unfreundlichen Leuten begegnen, jedoch findet der Spieler sehr oft exakt in seinem
    Lieblingsspiel Gleichgesinnte.
    Kurz gehalten: Gaming ist das Beste überhaupt! Gaming ist Kunst.

  74. Rursus August 23, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    To sum it all up, have a look in “Stranger Danger” (Pen & Teller, Bullshit!) :

  75. Coasterfreak August 23, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    The video wouldn’t play on my computer at work so I just now got to actually watch the video. I had to turn it off at the three and a half minute mark because I couldn’t take any more.

    I am SO glad I don’t have younger kids now because the battle parents with younger kids have against these fear-crazed idiots is astounding. This mentality was bad enough 15 years ago when I HAD young kids, but it’s a whole different ball game now.

  76. J August 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    If you saw the “deep web”, you wouldn’t even let your kids sleep un their own room at night.

  77. John August 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    @Donna…….thanks for setting the record straight Donna. I had an inkling that the Fox out of Boston was the Fox Network (as opposed to CBS, NBC and ABC) and not affiliated with the Fox NEWS Network but I wasn’t sure.

  78. Adrien August 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    I guess not so surprising that this is the ‘expert’ that Fox News gets. When did the news become about terrifying everyone for ratings instead of delivering facts. This lady should not be a therapist. Did you know that the average idiot with credentials after their names will molest over one hundred children and adults with unsubstantiated claims before they are set right? That’s a scary ‘fact’ right there.

  79. Jenny Islander August 24, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    I considered writing to Dr. Ruskin, but my brain stuck at “Have you lost your cotton-pickin’ mind?”

    Regular readers here may remember me posting that I live with bears. Big ones. Record-sized bears. Friday’s paper had a story about a young man, living about three miles from where I sit right now, who went out after dark to get his brother’s skateboard off somebody else’s lawn and met a bear so big that it could look him right in the eye when it was on all fours. It charged him. He thought he was dead. It brushed past him, got distracted by somebody’s trash (PSA: If you live in bear country follow local rules about trash management or you WILL get bears in your neighborhood!), and let him get far enough away to call his mother, who came roaring up in the car and got him out of there.

    Response by the powers that be: “Yep, they do tend to turn up in residential areas this time of year.”

    The point is that these animals exist, they have been seen, other bears in this population have killed and eaten human beings, and still we don’t have flying freakouts about it. Past response to bears showing up near secluded family homes has boiled down to, “Until the bears go to sleep for the winter, don’t use the bus stop or let your kids walk; drive your kids to school, or to a more public bus stop on the route.”

    Because freaking out and running around screaming at shadows

  80. SKL August 24, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Re bears – there was a black bear sighting in a nearby neighborhood a couple of weeks ago. And my wooded backyard gets a lot of wildlife from the nearby national forest. I told my girls what to do if they ever see a bear. Other than that I do not plan to change anything.

  81. Papilio August 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    11? No doubt I stayed home alone at that age: I went places alone at 9, I took the train to school at 12. 11???

    @Jessica: I read it… When I was in 10th grade I wrote a story (assignment: ‘Write a thrilling story’) in which a young woman with a certain haircut and a certain car got abducted, raped and murdered (yes, too much TV, I know). If that wasn’t scary enough, that entire description also applied to the very teacher who had to read and grade it.
    I guess I should still be in jail…

  82. Stacy August 24, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    I get the impression this “expert” is fond of seeing herself on television and would love to be the center of controversy, so I’m reluctant to give her any more attention. This is not the first time she has spoken against “free range parenting.” It frightens me, though, to think that people will take her advice.

    My husband often has to deal with young coworkers and interns and says it seems like they are taking longer and longer to stop acting like spoiled, partying college kids and start acting like adults. Perhaps their parents raised them to be children instead of adults?

  83. CrazyCatLady August 24, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Oh dear! I wonder why the police didn’t arrest me multiple times this last week. You see, it was county fair week. And my 14, 12 and 9 year old were showing their ducks. But, no, I did not make them stay in the poultry barn the whole time.

    I actually let them go and roam around. By themselves. The only issue I had was that the carnival didn’t have a clock (they had barn duty and they needed to be back on time. I talked to the owner to ask if there were any clocks (he was taking a smoking break with some staff.) He told me my kids could ask his staff for the time at any of the rides. If they didn’t tell my kids the time, he wanted to know as he figures they are overpaid glorified baby sitters. (I respect their ability to keep the rides safe, too.) I also found out that he knew a former neighbor of mine, which was cool.

    My kids did not have a phone, or a watch. No one tried to make away with them. The younger two got free photos at the photo booth a couple of mornings when they were warming it up. They talked to people about knives, pigs, rides and geese, and people in both the Democratic and Republican booths. Sometimes they went in pairs, most often they went off alone. And they were fine, just fine. Despite potential gang members, murders, and bucking bronchos. Oh, and lots of security. Probably the most policed area of 3 counties.

  84. Kay August 25, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    Is Dr. Ruskin going to speak out against the Red Cross, that offers babysitting courses for children 11 and older?

    Forget asking Dr. Ruskin, I’m going to call Fox Boston and ask them to get this helicopter alarmist off the air and give them a piece of my mind!

  85. Omer Golan-Joel August 25, 2014 at 2:40 am #

    “We want to live in a safe world, says Ruskin in this interview, “But we don’t.” Kids 7,8,9 and 10 should not walk to school or even venture outside without you, she says. Perhaps by age 11 you can let your child out in “short spurts,””

    Oh really?! So go tell that to these Bedouin children and their parents, who live in a remote corner of the Holy Land, YET walk to school (children, no adult around) from a young age several hours in each direction to get an education. And even ride donkeys! On their own! I’d wager that these kids, despite being significantly poorer in financial terms than their American peers, and despite of living in a semi-warzone would be MUCH healthier, in psychological terms, than the typical U.S. kid.

  86. Paula August 25, 2014 at 4:43 am #

    What is really stupid is her saying that a child allowed to roam is thinking that their parent doesn’t care enough to helicopter them, and other experts are saying this attitude is harming them no wonder so meany pRents are being arrested for nothing

  87. Warren August 25, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Dr. Karen Ruskin, The Relationship Expert You mention Lenore Skenazy, yes I heard she quoted me in one of her recent blogs and then made assumptions of what my thoughts were further, writing them as if they were mine to fit her blog article. I realize that many of the comments here are followers of hers, as the lingo is in sync with what she preaches. Your public debate idea is interesting, as I am always open to people sharing their perspective. I realize you are a fan of hers based on what you have articulated as well. Anyway, there’s an interesting article written about her that I recently read, that really slams her perspective. Once again, everyone has an opinion, isn’t that what is great about America. Here is its:

    Free-Range Kids Nonsense
    Free-Range Kids is the latest parenting fad. The sooner it fades out, the better. Here’s why…..

    This the reply I got from her, on facebook.

  88. Dirk. August 25, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    W the comment I think I made that pissed you off here was directed in response to anonymous mom, who posted a bogus lets get angry at this link about two 17 and 18 year olds who are in trouble for sexting a kid who just graduated from 7th grade.

  89. Warren August 25, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    No Dirk, I am just tired of your input.

  90. Katie G August 25, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    I was going to pick up my daughter from her grandparent’s house this weekend (she’s 3 so she needs a bit of supervision) when I passed four girls (maybe 10 or so) out walking on the side of the road. I had to smile and do an inner “horray for free-range kids” as I drove past becuase we live in the country and the road is usually empty. They were watching for cars, got very far off the road when i passed, and were happily entertaining and exploring by themselves. Living in the country, my husband is always telling me that it’s not safe to walk on the roads because of how remote they are and there are bad people everywhere…we will continue to disagree on this point as my daughter gets older! However I’m glad that these girl’s parents didn’t hover and let them explore on a nice saturday afternoon.

  91. Gus diZerega August 25, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Karen Ruskin still should not be allowed to go outside or talk to others without supervision.

  92. DIRK August 25, 2014 at 11:16 am #


    To respond to your post from Ruskin…

    The link she provided there does make valid arguments against Lenore and what she sells. However, all the examples she offers are cherry picked themselves and all of the examples offered there are of negative things that happened to children 5 years old and younger who should not have been unsupervised, I don’t think Lenore or anyone here would have agree with leaving those children unsupervised for a length of time. The one example of a 10 year old being abducted is sad, but random. 10 year olds walk to school everyday.

  93. DIRK August 25, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I still maintain that there is a middle reasonable ground between the two extremes so often offered. It is what I remember as parenting…

    That being said, I do agree with the link that Lenore is hawking an idea to make money and not because she believes it sadly. If she believed it she would background search her posts to make sure they weren’t damning home ec, or safe zones…in her response Ruskin even correctly points out (not that I agree with her interview mind you) she correctly points out that Lenore cuts and pastes what she puts in the blog entries to alter what her opponent is saying to look more damning. Lenore even puts quotes on phrases to make it look like it is coming from her opponent when it isn’t, she does it for “emphasis” but it doesn’t read “that way.”

  94. Warren August 25, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    That is your malfunction. Lenore and Free Range Kids is not an extreme, or at one end of the spectrum. Never has been.

    Now as for that lunatic Ruskin, she took her information from a blog by a victim of abuse, by family members that has become an extremist herself. With no data, no research other than people sending her their horror stories.

    Ruskin herself is to blind to see that as a therapist she sees only the bad. Nobody goes to a therapist to tell them “Yeah, had a great childhood, and love my life.”.

  95. Jenna K. August 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    In response to Brooks (first comment): I see that too all the time and it drives me batty! What do these parents think is going to happen to their kids in the 20-30 feet between the curb and the school doors that makes them have to stop and wait until their kids get in the school? For the last two years I had an afternoon kindergartener that I would drop off. The other kids walked to school and then they all walked home together (with kindergarten sibling). But I had to drop off the kindergartener most days because I did not have the time to make the mile walk to the school to take him/her that way (with two little ones in tow), so I would drive them to the school. The drop-off made me crazy. The parents who would stop and wait until after the child disappeared into the school, causing a major back-up in the drop-off line made me crazy.

  96. JP Merzetti August 25, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Reminds me of the “experts” that create and update the DSL handbook: “LWY” disorder (living while young.)
    And lollopop – no driving, ever? Imagine. The crapstorm that would accompany that directive.

    Says a lot: raising children… be children. An eternally infantalized society. The slaughter of the innocents (slaughter of independent and free-thinking is what I mean.)
    Children know quite well how to be children, actually. In fact, they’re experts at it. We don’t really have to belabor that point. Guidance toward happy, healthy adulthood is the ticket.

    Strange to think that as we ramp up the over academic, pedantic, educational and intellectualized social codification, we become enthralled with the professionalization of life: as humans become the livestock processed through vertically integrated systems, much as the way Cargill and Tyson process cattle, pigs and chickens…the corporate model, following a fundamental entrepreneurial and profit-based motif.

    Except it is human beings, that happen to be the base resource for all this economic activity. Somehow, we missed that vital little detail.

    So when Ms. Expert brightly bounces in to bestow upon us her profoundly archaic and astonishingly mundane little McNuggets of wisdom, we must ponder a moment from whence she came. She is but a small cog in a very large and grinding wheel.
    Fundamentally, we know she’s wrong.
    (I think I could have told her that at the age of 8.)
    I wouldn’t have known why then – but I still would have been right.

    Sometimes, I think we don’t really listen to kids. We do their talking for them. Dangerous ground when we do their thinking for them, too. How else are they to learn how to think on their own?
    (And if they do happen to manage that feat – what would come back at us?)

    The world is as it is:
    As if this in itself ends the argument.
    Yet it didn’t wind up that way as an immaculate conception. We created it. Which means we can un-create, too. Improve upon the model. For the sake of beloved children – who are after all, the future we hold so dear. The continuation of ourselves. A public act of will works wonders. So we used to believe. That act of moral outrage, rising with contempt against stupidity and wrong thinking. We haven’t really forgotten how to do this.
    But as long as the bullies keep picking on individual families, isolated and set against each other – it makes it tough for a unified push back.
    Parentification: the boogey man in every child’s closet.

  97. Papilio August 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    @Warren, re Ruskins response: Interesting. She suggests that Lenore has misrepresented what she claimed, but she doesn’t point out an example – it even sounds like she didn’t read this blogpost herself.
    She also talks about ‘followers’ and ‘fans’ of Lenore and describes what Lenore says as ‘preaching’. That I think says a lot about how she sees a situation like this, with a blogger and her regular readers: apparently to her it’s a kind of religion, with Lenore as a kind of messiah (and according to that article Ruskin linked to, Lenore is even an *evil* messiah, tricking us into buying stuff from her!)(Like what? I found both the book and her talk online for free…) that we’re all mindlessly following. That while most of us do disagree with her from time to time and certainly aren’t afraid to say so, plus the fact that Lenore’s idea of normal parenting practices isn’t mainstream in the USA anymore, but 1) USA readers had enough critical thinking skills to realize kids are *not* in danger 24/7 and found each other on this blog – why would these skills suddenly disappear now?, and 2) it IS still mainstream in most of the rest of the first world (where parents care about their kids too), and are kids dying there left and right by the hands of all those pedophiles that are supposed to lurk everywhere? No!

    About the article, I really like the title: it IS nonsense what they write about FRK (the difference between FRK and neglect seems to be a hard to understand). I don’t even know where to start, but what it certainly doesn’t do is ‘slam’ Lenore’s perspective.

    Anyway, are you going to write Ruskin back and point out where she’s wrong?

  98. SKL August 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    Dirk, get over yourself. The name of this blog is the name of Lenore’s book. Everyone knows that, she’s not being sneaky about it. She promotes her book just like every other author. (And her TV show, speeches, whatever.) If you went to a website entitled “Harry Potter,” would you get angry that it promotes HP hype and even HP products? No, you would not.

    You are probably the only person who goes to websites created by authors about their books, and repeatedly protests the marketing aspect of the website. If you don’t like to see marketing / self promotion, don’t go to a site involving marketing. If you want a site about free range principles that doesn’t talk about the blog owner’s book / show / etc, why don’t you go find such a blog or start your own? Lenore is under no obligation to create a blog that meets your personal expectations.

    We all notice that Lenore promotes herself on this blog and you seem to be the only person upset about it.

  99. Warren August 25, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    I would have copied my response to her, but it seems like the good Dr. does not like what I had to say, and removed my comments.

    I had basically told her that the linked article was not credible, as it was done from a very jaded viewpoint. The author was a victim of abuse by family members and seems to have become an extremist to prevent it from every happening to another child. Not taking into account that family abusers do not snatch kids off the street. Also that this article was spattered with hand picked stories from readers, no data, no research no nothing.

    I also informed her that she should not be spouting numbers like her “over 100 times” before they are caught, without data and references to back it up.

    She kept going on about it being her opinion. That is when I told her that having an opinion is fine, but going on tv, using her credentials, being introduced as an expert is not just sharing an opinion. Also that when she does such, without backing anything up with research, data or anything well it is no more than snake oil.

    Like I said, she musn’t like me. ROTFLMAO at this snake oil saleslady.

  100. Warren August 25, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Thanks for the response to Dirk. Maybe he should write a book…..but who would buy a book that on every page would make you stop, find another book, look up that passage, come back, read a little, and repeat numerous times.

    It is easier for him just to keep posting links online I guess.

  101. Warren August 25, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    LOL, she really didn`t like that response. She has me blocked from commenting. I wonder what she is afraid of.

  102. tdr August 26, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    I’m wondering why they chose this particular “expert” for this segment. I don’t know statistics, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she were far outside the mainstream.

    The idea that we are overdoing it in the “safety first” arena and thereby HURTING children seems to be gaining modest momentum if Slate is anything to go by (and the Atlantic, oh and I just read an article in the WaPo that says you should let your middle-schooler take risks).

    I recently spent some vacation time with one of my sisters — she was horrified at a story I told regarding my 15 year old driving WITH his dad, but WITHOUT his permit. (the story was hilarious imo, but I should have quit as soon as I saw the look of horror on her face. But I digres….) At a different time during the vacation she mentioned how much more adventurous my kids were than hers. Hm, I wonder why. Or maybe that is not seen as a positive. ?

  103. Papilio August 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    @Warren: How, eh, ‘unfortunate’ :E

    “I wonder what she is afraid of.”

    Facts contradicting her, no doubt. If I’d spout nonsense, I’d be dead scared of facts. OTOH, since you can be quite aggressive, maybe she didn’t feel like dealing with you anymore. Perhaps someone should try it with more sugar instead of vinegar and try to make her say something contradictory to the facts or even herself?

  104. Warren August 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    She is probably hoping I drink the Lenore Skenazy Kool Aid and croak.

  105. Papilio August 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    She certainly seems to think we’re a cult or something 😀
    Guess that’s what you get when you don’t know the difference between fact and fiction: ‘Science is a religion too!’

  106. SKL August 27, 2014 at 2:37 am #

    Yesterday I was chatting with some other parents and I mentioned my kid told me she expected me to always be at home when she gets off the bus. (I shared it because I thought it was cute the way she said it.) I said I’d told her not to worry, and that when I decide she’s old enough to come home alone I would give her a key.

    To which all the other parents said, “oh no, you don’t want to give her a key!” Also it seems (according to these folks) the age for being allowed to go home alone after school is now high school age. If that. Sigh.

    Then there was the guy who was wondering how his 6yo KG’er was going to go all afternoon (3 hours) without a snack.

  107. Susan September 3, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    I gave my children a lot of freedom and they have grown up to be responsible independent adults. I absolutely agree that kids need more freedom and less restrictions. But I’m having trouble with this concept now that I’m taking my 2 1/2 year-old grandson to the park.

    There are tons of kids with no parents as young as 5. They are so hungry for adult attention that I hear, “watch me on the monkey bars … see how high I can swing … can I have some of those snacks…”

    How old is old enough?