What are YOUR Three Free-Range Wishes?

Readers hitaiafbes
— Yesterday, I listed my three Free-Range wishes. Then Kenny Felder came up with this great idea:

It might make an interesting blog if you invited all your readers to submit their 1-3 Free Range wishes. Here are mine.

1. I wish more people had the common sense that Lenore Skenazy displays every single day.

2. I wish that people who make and enforce laws about danger were required to base them on statistics. You’re allowed to think and feel whatever you want, but before your thoughts and feelings pass into laws and judgments, they have to be based on facts.

3. In particular, I wish that the government could not make anything “illegally dangerous to children” that is *less* dangerous–that is, less probable to lead to serious injury and/or death–than driving them to a movie.

So — what are yours? – L

Ok, maybe I'll grant your wishes, too. Make 'em good!

Ok, maybe I’ll grant your wishes, too. Make ’em good!

62 Responses to What are YOUR Three Free-Range Wishes?

  1. Owen Allen August 1, 2014 at 3:11 am #

    Got me thinking. So here goes:
    1. Schools and education are in community;
    2. Adults in community are confident of each other;
    3. Getting out and about in community is child friendly including green spaces for open play;

  2. Peter Orvetti August 1, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    1. That law enforcement would not be brought in when someone expresses concern about an unattended child who faces no real danger;

    2. That people would learn and understand the statistics about the improbability of harm befalling children; and

    3. That today’s “concerned” adults would remember how much more freedom we had as children — and that we were all just fine.

  3. Korou August 1, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    That children would feel about playing outside the same way they feel about playing computer games.
    That adults would think about children playing outside the same way they think about children getting healthy food.
    That people’s first reactions would come third, common sense would come first and checking available research would come second.

  4. AB August 1, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    1. Establish a legal defense fund for Free Range Parents.

    2. Establish a network of attorneys who are willing to go on legal offense against states, municipalities and quasi-government entities who illegally deprive parents of their rights. (The only way they’ll change is if they’re sued.)

    3. Push for legislation requiring clear laws (and age ranges) on child “endangerment” to remove the nebulous prosecutorial/social worker discretion that allows for a parent to be arrested for allowing a 9-year old to go to the park.

  5. Swain August 1, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    1) Wish people would stop ratting each other out and start working together

    2) Wish for an end to any and all “anonymous” tip-offs. The do-gooder busybodies must be identified in news stories and police reports, and provide a formal, legal complaint of how THEIR lives were affected and/or jeopardized by the parents’ actions they felt necessary to report.

    3) Wish for said narc’ing of FR parents to be a chargeable offense somewhere under the umbrella of “invasion of privacy”

  6. Jessica August 1, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    1. I wish I didn’t worry about what a doctor or teacher might say when my kids show up with scrapes and bruises just from being kids.

    2. I wish that when confronted with the evidence, people would stop saying “but if even one child is kept safe…” and recognize that what we are doing as free-range parents is first of all, not illegal, and secondly, keeping our kids from being unhealthy – both physically and emotionally – and to mind their own.

    3. I wish that severe helicopter parenting, to the point that the children are suffering physically, emotionally and psychologically, would be considered just as dangerous and worthy of calling the police/CPS as a child left alone in a car.

  7. Warren August 1, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Before we start making new laws, reevaluate the existing laws. Making them clear and concise, and not open to wide interpretation.
    Apply the existing laws, because they already cover most issues.
    Stop making new knee jerk laws in response to media frenzied events.

  8. Silver Fang August 1, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Just that today’s kids could go outside and play all day without adults hovering over them.

    That teenagers could stay after 11 PM, as long as their parents are OK with it.

    That kids would be trusted with more responsibility at a younger age. They’re more capable than adults think they are.

  9. mystic_eye August 1, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    1. They never, ever consider banning anything without first assessing what it is likely to be replaced with and carefully studying whether the replacements are worse than the thing they ban
    2. Remove the parts of the human brain that make us unable to understand probability. (I’d really like everyone to be able to understand the Monty Hall problem, I don’t, I accept that it is true but my brain still insists it makes no sense because the human brain is so flawed). Mind you there’s a lot of things we could do without like source blindness.
    3. More people could be neighbourly. It seems like most of the time around here if you talk to someone for 10 minutes you’re suddenly “good friends, having playdates, sharing everything” or you’re strangers and practically enemies. Honestly, can’t we just be neighbourly? Can’t we just exchange pleasantries. Can’t we let our kids be friends, watch out for each other’s kids, without having to be bestest buds? I have enough friends and I don’t like people in my space.

  10. Melanie Jones August 1, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    1. I wish protecting children were not a PR or government department funding issue, but simply a protecting children issue.

    2. I wish that parents that were thrown into chaos by a well-meaning busybody and proven ‘innocent’ could get back the time and money lost to proving said innocence. And that their children, taken away or exposed to angry government officials, could get back their innocence.

    3. I wish that from this point forward the response of officers to issues where they find unattended (but healthy, smiling, and self-confident) children could be a healthy eye roll to the busy body with a stern warning to only call when there is true danger present.

  11. Peter August 1, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    1) My first wish requires some background explanation. I coached organized youth soccer for 30 years. We had 11-12 sessions (practices or games) over 3 months. Practices were where I taught skills. Games were where they showed me what they had learned. Because practices were so limited, I sent them home with homework, giving them a specific skill to work on before the next session. 30 years ago, some actually did their homework. For the past decade or more, the amount of soccer these kids played outside of organized sessions was zero, because they had no unscheduled minutes for home practice. I’m sure that applies to all organized sports. So my first wish is that parents who put their kids in organized soccer/baseball/tennis/etc. would send the kids outside with a ball/bat/racket/etc. for at least 3 hours of free play for each hour they spend in organized sessions. Even better, skip organized sports entirely. Neighborhood kids playing street soccer daily will learn soccer skills better and faster than they would have in a dozen sessions with a typical volunteer coach. As a bonus, their parents won’t have to rush supper and search frantically for water bottles to get to a field across town by 6:30.

    2) I wish that schools would strive to make it so that NO parents are compelled to drive their kids to school. Encourage walking or riding the bus for ALL kids. Most traffic deaths in school zones are caused by parents driving kids to school.

    3) I wish law enforcement would get out of parents’ way and let them be parents.

  12. Mark L August 1, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    1. Liability lawsuits would be limited to actual damages, with a very low maximum limit on pain, “suffering”, “distress”, punitive damages, etc., so the hordes of lawsuit lawyers find other lines of work. (This would have a lot of other benefits in society, too…)

    2. Neighbours would socialize a lot more and get to know each other and their families, and help watch out for each others’ kids, and younger parents would have a chance to learn from older parents.

    3. News consumers worldwide would demand story choices on actual impact on the world rather than titillation and public spectacle, for instance more attention to famines, refugees, and environmental destruction, and NO attention whatsoever for celebrity trials.

  13. Mark L August 1, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    What Kenny Felder says about statistics is very true. People do NOT understand statistics, or in fact a lot of mathematics. A recent argument I had with an anti-vaccine idiot of a parent boiled down to them not so much being science deniers as mathematics deniers! They just refused to understand the statistics.

    – a math teacher

  14. J- August 1, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    1) That our laws, their enforcement, and subsequent punishments reflect upon the age old principle of mens rea (guilty mind). That police, courts, and society look at intentions not just actions; so that we differentiate between a kid who takes a gun to school to shoot up his classmates, a kid with a Nerf gun in his backpack left there from the weekend sleepover, and a girl to has a paring knife in her lunchbox to cut up her apple.

    2) That our police, teachers, government officials employ, and are encouraged to employ, the concept of Aristotelian practical wisdom in their duties.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYu0kMCxFEE

    3) That people in positions of authority stop treating kids like statistics and start treating them like people.

  15. pentamom August 1, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Peter, I never thought about your first one before but that is so true. When I was a kid, some of the boys who were in Little League would play catch or do batting practice in practically all their spare time during the season. They WANTED to because they did baseball because they loved it. But it’s just not the same now, except in rare cases.

  16. brian August 1, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    For my own community in Northern NJ:
    1) I wish that 80% of the kids walked to school every day
    2) I wish that youth sports did not start until age 9
    3) I wish that kids over 14 worked in the summer instead of going to camps and classes

  17. K2 August 1, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    1. I wish that CPS would either be abolished completely as an unsuccessful effort or just screen out 90% of the cases quickly (both are unlikely to happen). I have read statistics that up to 90% of the kids in foster care shouldn’t be there (they are not serious physical or sexual abuse cases/ more likely neglect cases that most people would disagree with) and up to 50% are actually returned to the parents. CPS takes too many kids out of loving homes and has unchecked power to do it. CPS is set up for serious abuse, not a kid that played unsupervised for a little longer than a guideline said was allowed.

    2. Parents should not be held liable for injuries that take place while kids are participating in sports or are in school. If theiy have an older child that is allowed to be unsupervised and something happens the parents should not be found guilty because a 12 year-old was unsupervised. The law should not state, “as long as nothing happens”. It should be legal.

    3. The benefits of free and light supervision or no supervision far exceed the threats of sex offenders and other criminals in most locations. The government should recognize that and allow children to play outside in their own neighborhoods with parents looking out windows etc. every so often. Children who are 12 and older who become gang members or create havoc should be held accountable for their own actions and parens should not be responsible for the grafitti on the wall at that point. I think that just watching them until they are 18 not only hurts the good kids who are just playing, but also makes it hard for the mischievous kids to learn responsibility and consequences and ultimately grow up. I am not against relatively harsh penalties for the child criminal that has in part helped to bring about these supervision laws.

  18. Beth August 1, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    1. That the laws were based on fact rather than fear
    2. That the registry was not open to the public
    3. That the media stop pushing the fear factor

  19. Terry August 1, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    1. I wish the busybody do gooder parents would have their driver’s licenses revoked since putting kids in cars is one of the most dangerous things a parent can do.

    2. I wish there were more playgrounds with tall slides and jungle gyms.

    3. I wish states would pass laws that unless violence was involved, busybody do gooders had to “confront” parents supposedly placing their children in danger prior to calling authorities.

  20. SOA August 1, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    I wish people would not mistrust their own close friends with their kids especially when said friends have never done anything to make them think they are not to be trusted.

  21. Sharon Davids August 1, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    1. Let your young adults 11-13 years old take a first aid class and then let them bandage their own cuts. The class my daughter taught was big on saying what they should do and when they should call 911.

    2. Let kids elementary school on up use the school buses. So many kids have never taken the school bus because the kids ask their moms to drive them to school. It clutters up the roads, makes the kids more dependant on their moms, and does not let friendships develop.

    3. Don’t give unsolicited parenting advice. I find myself wanting to but I hold my tongue in the elevator of my buidling. I only give advice if someone asks me a direct question about my daughter.

  22. Emily Morris August 1, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    1. I wish for the regrowth of true community, where we look out for each other without unnecessary judgment.

    2. I wish CPS resources would be appropriately used for cases that matter.

    3. I wish every busybody had his/her life scrutinized.

  23. no rest for the weary August 1, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    I wish there were a person with the media’s attention who could raise the issue of how sacred kids’ learning and playing is, and how too much supervision actually harms and stunts children (makes them LESS “safe”).

    I wish there were a community of people who would decry the current hysteria around “protecting” children and begin to speak out on a grassroots level, and live by example.

    I wish all people everywhere would become more self-connected and understand what it is they want more of (peace, safety, well-being, health, ease, joy, fun, order, security…) and then REALLY DISCERN whether their actions (calling police, denying kids freedoms, criminalizing the parents of healthy children) are supporting the very things that they want more of.

    Well, two of my wishes have already come true, thanks to Lenore! And that’s huge!

  24. hancock August 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    1. I wish to be courageous and have a big enough heart to have more children (I have three already).

    2. Wish to be more open to my neighbors and get to know them better.

    3. I wish to be more willing to let my children go and to give them the most freedom they can handle.

    4 (If I’m allowed a fourth wish). I don’t wish my wishes on anyone else. Not everyone thinks like me. But I do hope to find more like minded people.

  25. no rest for the weary August 1, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    P.S. And if people do become aware and connected to what it is they actually value and want more of in their lives, my guess is that they will come to embrace COMMUNITY and supporting more inter-dependence among people and families as the strategy to bring them these things.

    Kind of the opposite strategy to isolation, suspicion, “every man for himself,” and “reporting to the authorities.”

  26. Jen August 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    1. I wish common sense would rule the day, instead blind adherence to black and white laws designed to keep people from having to use their brains and think about what is good for a child.
    2. I hope my child can experience being trusted by adults/society so that they are as confident in his skills as I am.
    3. I hope kids can keep thinking that the world is a good place with good people in it… for as long as possible, then maybe someday it won’t have to be a painful lesson to learn it may not be.

  27. SKL August 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    I wish people didn’t think the cops needed to be involved in parenting decisions that are not manifestly dangerous.

    I wish people remembered their own childhood better.

    I wish insurance companies didn’t influence rational thought about what’s appropriate for kids.

  28. amy August 1, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    1) Castrate violent rapists. That does not mean 18 yo having consentual sex with a slightly younger person. There are grey areas here, I know.
    2) Keep child molesters locked up in tiny, dark boxes.
    3) take everyone else off the stupid list.
    3a) Better yet, lose the list.
    4) Fine and jail busybodies. Re-train or replace overzealous cops. We parents need protection from THEM.
    5) Lenore, how bout you train more people to go out and teach parents how to free range.
    Just off the top of my head. I’m tired of living in fear of the bad guys (see #4).

  29. Andy August 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    @amy Your solution to overly punitive society is more punishments?

  30. Omer Golan-Joel August 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    1. I wish that only an act which causes actual damage would be considered a crime; that “endangering” someone won’t be a crime unless something actually happens and someone actually gets hurt.

    2. I wish that the authority of the state to intervene in parenting styles and parenting decisions would be minimized; that the state would intervene only in cases of actual severe physical abuse or neglect.

    3. I wish that most accidents would fall outside the list of things people could sue for. So that insurance companies would be out of most decision-making processes by schools and communities.

  31. J- August 1, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    @Brian

    No personal offense, but your third wish is pretty awful.

    My grandparents owned a deli and bagel bakery. My cousins and I worked there as kids (bus boy, waiter, floor scrubber, delivery, etc.).

    I also went to both Boy Scout and YMCA summer camp. I much preferred summer camp. I learned to sail and snorkel. I went hiking on the Appalachian trail. I made friends, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun.

    I understand that working teaches valuable life lessons and so on and so forth and lip service to adults and platitudes about kids today not knowing the value of hard work. But kids need to be kids. Going to school during the year and then work during the summer can wait until 17, maybe 16 at the earliest. Having a kid get a job at 14 isn’t good and going to summer camp at 15 isn’t bad. Dare I say that having a 32-40 hour work week during the summer at age 14, 15, or even 16 is the opposite of free range.

  32. Donna August 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    1. I wish people would become less hell-bent on judging others and trying to control everyone else’s behavior to conform with their ideals.

    2. I wish no more laws named after dead kids could be written. It carries too much of an emotional punch and leads too often to really bad laws.

    3. I wish for the eradication of the sex offender registry and stat rape laws.

  33. CrazyCatLady August 1, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    1. That parents wouldn’t judge other parents who parent differently. For instance a parent on FB the other day commenting about parents who let their “young” kids walk to the Circle K convenience store: “Don’t they love their kids?”

    2. That police didn’t feel that they had to charge someone with a crime every time they responded to a call. That they could use some judgement, give a warning, listen to the parents and their reasoning and maybe agree with them.

    3. That people would get to know their neighbors. Talk to them. Bring them cookies for the holidays or food when they have a baby or a death in the family (that as neighbors, we would actually know about.) That said neighbors would let their own kids or grandkids play with the other kids in the neighborhood, because hey, we all know each other and have agreed on standards of roaming, behavior and such.

  34. Karen Hyams August 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    1. That children are not segregated from the rest of society for a huge part of their lives.

    2. That free kids are able to find lots of other kids like them, right in their neighborhood.

    That children without adults attached to them were welcome in their local businesses.

  35. pentamom August 1, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Somehow my previous comment never posted.

    1. That we would be able to make decisions about what our kids could do purely based on our own assessment of it, without fear of busybodies interfering or the opposite temptation to “just show those helicopter parents” without thinking it through.

    2. That schools would regain a proper perspective on their sphere of authority, and let parents be in charge of everything outside the classroom (this would also require kids and parents taking responsibility that some are not willing to shoulder.)

    3. That accurate risk information about “nowadays” as opposed to “when we were kids” could be downloaded directly into every American’s brain so that I wouldn’t have to keep hearing about how it’s great that we could ride our bikes all over town, but “these days” it’s risky to let your kid wait for the bus at the end of the driveway (just ran into that one on FB yesterday.)

  36. EricS August 1, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I only have one wish…To make things the way they were before the dawn of the internet. More specifically, go back to the way we used to think and view things.

  37. Lance Mitaro August 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    1. Protecting children is 100% parental responsibility
    2. Protecting children is 100% parental responsibility.
    3. Protecting children is 100% parental responsibility.

    The government needs to stay out of our bedrooms and baby buggies.

  38. Lance Mitaro August 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    @ pentamom #3

    Probability theory is not an exact science, when it comes to anticipatory “threats” to children, it’s little more than the conformation bias of child safety advocates which has unfortunately been ingrained into the American psyche as “truth.” They love to use the “it could happen to your child, too” talking points to shift blame in an attempt to seek closure and somehow prevent the same thing from happening again in order to keep their child from dying in vain.

    I think this is a selfish and dangerous mindset to impose upon society given the FACT that what happened to their child is statistically non-existent in the grand scheme of things. As long as society continues to believe everything the fear-driven media espouses, we will continue to circle the wagon around unwarranted and unjustifiable fear.

  39. Steve August 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    I like what Kenny presented about making and enforcing laws about danger “only” if the laws are based on true statistics and facts, NOT irrational fear-mongering.

    The problem today is that much of society, including judges and other authority figures, have fallen under the spell of Worst First Thinking and fear-mongering. I wonder why no group has sprung up to address this issue.

    Lenore, perhaps when you are speaking in an appropriate venue, you might suggest that a group be formed to draw attention to this problem.

  40. Helen August 1, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    1. That instead of teaching kids not to talk to strangers, we teach them HOW to talk to strangers.

    2. That CPS and the like save themselves for true cases of abuse and neglect and leave the rest of us to parent as we see fit.

    3. That helicoptering as a parenting style crashes and burns before any more kids suffer.

  41. Dirk August 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    1) The media would stop selling blood and crime (certain blogs included) to sell an agenda.

    2) That people really did act like it takes a village.

    3) That there was an actual cohesive free range movement like with the admin that mothers against drunk driving, car seat, and SOR supporters had. Move the majority opinion.

  42. pentamom August 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    @Lance, probability is a very exact science, as a branch of mathematics, but you’re right that risk assessment is not. My real point, though, is that while having the accurate information will not always guarantee that people will assess risk properly, I at least want them to stop spewing objectively false talk about the world being less safe for the average kid in the average environment than it was 20, 30, 50, whatever years ago. Then at least we’d remove the ability to claim that an overly protective assessment of risk is somehow objectively more realistic than a more Free Range approach.

    Of course none of this is possible but the whole point of this is that we can dream, can’t we?

  43. Rachel @ Wife, Then Mama August 1, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    1) That CPS and the police didn’t get involved except in cases of abuse (not a spanking, or even a slap, but real abuse), serious neglect (like not feeding the kids, leaving tiny kids home alone for long periods of time, etc.) and the one that everyone on this list seems to forget parents using dangerous drugs. All the cases I have heard about (from people I know, not this blog or the news) of are kids removed because their parents are doing meth, and not stopping for years after their kids are removed. Some of the cases I have heard of lately are absurd. There is no reason that I should fear CPS or the police if I leave my kids in the car (safely) while I run in the store for 5 minutes, or let them walk to the park, or spank them when they are naughty, even if someone nosy sees me do it.

    2) That if someone doesn’t like someone else’s parenting choices they would keep it to themselves unless the child is in serious danger. I personally do this all the time.

    3) That people would realize that accidents happen (even fatal ones) and its not anyone’s fault. No one has to be punished just because someone died.

  44. Jen Juhasz August 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    Great questions! I bet some smart person could even build a database of wishes – because I’ll bet most of us overlap on a few of these!

    1) I wish the ‘tattletale’ mentality that seems so pervasive would go away; if you’re concerned TALK to the person, not the cops.

    2) Be more community minded – if you see a child alone put away the jump to conclusions mat and don’t assume the child is in danger. Speak to the child – if the child is old enough to respond calmly and knows where his/her parents are, then let them be! If they’re being destructive – point out that it’s disrespectful to the community, but still don’t go calling cops on small kids.

    3) Don’t assume a child in a car is in danger – using common sense here. If it’s at an office building and no adults around of any kind…then maybe sit and watch for a few minutes (if you’re concerned), and if no adult – go ask reception to page the office community – same as you would if you see someone leaving their lights on! If it’s at a grocery store, gas station, recycling center – and the child looks perfectly fine – leave them alone! Mind your own business and Trust that the parent knows what they’re doing. Getting the cops involved is ridiculous!

  45. Papilio August 1, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    In addition to (sometimes partly instead of) everyone else’s wishes:

    1a) That the US (and the rest of the world for that matter), instead of wasting tons of money on unnecessary school lock-down systems and dumb new laws, would completely update the street network to state-of-the-art Dutch standards (with smart adaptations to local climate, geography, etc), so fewer children would die in traffic accidents, FAR more children would ride their bike from A to B (school, friend, park, grocery store, whatever) and more neighborhood streets would be quiet enough to play near or even on. (Of course these things also apply to adults*, and city traffic efficiency, public health, livability and car/oil independency would be far greater too, but we’re focusing on the kids here.)
    1b) Also, use more common sense when it comes to land-use to minimize traveling distances from houses to common daily(ish) destinations (schools/stores/etc etc etc) – those really shouldn’t be only accessible by car.
    2) That everyone (including the justice system) would chill the F out when it comes to teens & sex, and educate and talk with them instead of criminalizing them and pretend we still live in the 1950s.
    3) That gov’ts and people around the world would do what’s necessary to make (and in this country: keep) kids at least as happy as Dutch kids are today (happiest in the world, says Unicef). That also means learning from the negative USA example to avoid making (or to reverse) the same mistakes that eh, made this blog so popular…

    (Sorry about sounding so darned chauvinistic, but hey, this is my perspective…:) )

    *Except perhaps for the playing in the street part 😀

  46. baby-paramedic August 1, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    I wish the really obvious difficult cases would be addressed and not put in the “too hard basket”.

    We target people for leaving the children in the car for a few minutes, or letting their children walk to the local shops. Yet, we had another child prostitution case this morning. Big problems are harder to fix, it is easier to ignore those ones and focus on the easy targets.

  47. Margot August 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    1. That we still had old black and white TV’s with crackly pictures and only four stations, so that it was still much more compelling to play “Island of Lost Children” or “Detectives” down at the reserve than stay inside and watch screens. (We could let them in on our dirty little secret of iPads and HBO on their 21st birthdays.)
    2. That unknown men were considered to be decent people with normal, adult sexual orientation, until such time as we had evidence to the contrary.
    3. That we all slowed down a bit and made time to teach life skills such as healthy meal preparation, laundry, house cleaning, budgeting, time management, lawnmower and car maintenance, basic tool use etc from an early age, so that, but the time they were about 18-21, kids are itching to get out there and rent their own flat and start their own independent lives.

    And here’s my number 4.

    4. That ethics classes in schools become compulsory, are taught from kindergarten through to year 12, and are government funded. (Here in NSW Australia, ethics is taught by volunteers – I am one – and only if they can get enough volunteers and raise enough money. Some schools have none; my kids’ school has only me. ) This needs to be a mandatory part of the school curriculum, as a large number of kids growing up in disadvantaged homes are just not getting any of this at home.

  48. Warren August 2, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    Margot,
    Sorry to tell you, but a gov’t funded ethics course will never happen. If the gov’t funded an ethics course, where would all the future senators, congressmen, and presidents come from?

  49. [email protected] Wife Then Mama August 2, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    @Margot – I get the idea behind ethics classes, but that could quickly become an infringment on both religious freedom and parental rights. Unless you could guarantee that only things like honesty and responsibility were covered, I would REALLY fight my kids being required to take an ethics class, because not everyone shares the same morals.

  50. Margot August 2, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    Hi [email protected] Wife Then Mama.
    I certainly can guarantee that. Ethics classes do not impinge on religious freedoms. They are about teaching kids how to think, not what to think. And if we raised a whole generation of people who could not only express their opinions and defend their positions with reasons, but could give other people the space to express theirs, then we would have more empathy, more common-sense and less knee-jerk reactivity. Its a win-win.

  51. Nadine August 2, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    I wished that city planning was done with everybody in mind. Not just cars. It would make it easier for kids to go around if bikepaths and footpaths and traffic lights for those were mandetory within urban areas. Safety can be designed .

    I wish that rules and laws in the public space were made so to empower those most at risk (kids, handicapped and elderly).

    I wished that parenting sections in media would be about how to raise adults instead of spending all their energy in telling us about what stuff we should give our special lil pink laced princess. Or how scared we should be for all the dangers lurking after that defenseless larva.

  52. K2 August 2, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    2nd comment:
    Papillo- The Netherlands came in first in the latest Unicef report on the well-being of children from developed countries. It might also be noted that the United States was 4th from last with the last three being countries that have considerably less money than the United States. Kids are encouraged to ride their bikes there and my limited understanding is that no one calls the cops because a kid is on a bike or walking to school. Kids are happier, in part because they have some freedom. With all of our supposed wealth, social services, rules and regulations we come in right near the bottom. The Unicef report evaluates a number of areas including infant mortality, whether kids have what is expected in the way of clothing and toys, some aspects of education (especially preschool), and others. I also read someplace else that kids in The Netherlands are allowed to enjoy being kids without the extreme pressure to achieve this or be great at that. There is more emphasis on enjoying today there than there is in the United States. The rampant anxiety present in the United States isn’t so prevalent there from what I’ve read.

  53. Papilio August 2, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    @K2: I know, that’s why I want to keep it that way (or improve) and wish it upon all the other kids too!
    There was also a report on child safety in the first world (I forgot by whom), in which NL came in 4th and, ironically, the USA came in 4th from the bottom.

  54. C. S. P. Schofield August 2, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    1) I wish that HOW TO LIE WITH STATISTICS was a required text for all schools, and that any elected official was asked to pass a test based on it before taking office.

    2) I wish that people would recognize that government is good at things that require brute force or bean counting, and not good at anything requiring subtlety or tact, and limit government responsibility accordingly.

    3) I wish that society would decide whether it was worried about kids being fat little couch potatoes OR about kids being unsupervised.

  55. lollipoplover August 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    1. I wish that Busybodyism became a recognized mental disorder and those who report non-crimes were referred to get the professional help they need.

    2. I wish that developmental milestones like walking and biking to school, running an errand to a store, watching younger siblings, and staying home alone were celebrated like learning to walk and talk and not prosecuted for child endangerment.

    3. I TRULY wish that the sight of children playing outdoors is always, always a happy sight and a sign of a great neighborhood.

  56. Nicole R August 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    1. More circulation of Lenore’s “Free Range Kids” book, as well as “Free to Learn”, by Peter Grey. – Let’s pass some copies out randomly to new parents and school principals everywhere, and encourage those folks to pass them along to others after reading.

    2. That society stops treating everyone like monsters. We can’t keep making children scared of all “strangers”, suspecting every photographer of criminal intentions, and putting people on a lifelong “registry” because they showed too much in public or had consensual sex with someone they considered a peer. – For that last one, I think we have to make some distinctions beyond just the age of the “victim” – something to do with the gap in ages (though that should not matter after both are a certain age either) and whether either party misrepresented his or her age, and whether there is any likelihood that the “perpetrator” would be a future danger to children.

    3. For the return of plain, unstructured, playtime. This would include fewer organized sports and extra-curricular activities for kids, less homework, more neighborhoods where kids really do play outside together, and parents not getting arrested for letting their kids go to the park! (Which even the arresting officers probably remember doing at six.)

  57. LRH August 2, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    (1) End anonymous reporting, completely, all of it.

    (2) That charges could be filed against someone threatening to call the department if there is no real abuse going on.

    (3) That Lenore Skenazy lived nearby and my children could have her as a babysitter.

  58. Claudia August 3, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    I wish that:

    People ‘concerned’ about a child alone would simply ask them where their parents, thus allowing them to distinguish between a lost/abandoned child and a happy, safe one who happens to be doing their own thing. No need to call police.

    People would understand that just because a parent allows their child a degree of independence they’re not comfortable with, that doesn’t mean the parent is neglectful or hasn’t actually made their own risk assessment and been satisfied with the conclusion

    Law enforcement would actually understand the laws they’re supposed to uphold, not run into knee jerk conclusions on behalf of busybodies

  59. gap.runner August 3, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    In Germany kids have the option of taking ethics classes in school. There are three choices in Bavaria: Catholic religion, Lutheran religion, or ethics. The Turkish (Muslim) and non-religious kids take ethics. Also, many Catholic and Lutheran kids who have gone through confirmation switch to taking ethics. My son has taken ethics since first grade (we’re in the non-religious category).

    My three wishes:

    1. That the sex offender lists be reserved only for those who are serious sex offenders, like serial rapists or child molesters. People who streak, moon, or urinate in public one time should not be on a sex offender registry for life. The same goes for 18-year-olds having sex with their 16 or 17-year-old girlfriends.

    2. That there are more opportunities for unsupervised free play. Here in Germany there are, but in the States all play and sports seem to be supervised and directed by adults. As I write this, my son and two friends are at a local park with their bikes and a soccer ball. They will play a pickup soccer game and make up their own rules depending on the number of kids that they find (also unsupervised by adults) at the park.

    3. That parents make decisions based on reality and not fear. The odds of a child being snatched by someone hiding in the bushes while walking to school are practically zero. But many parents in the States think that Junior has a 99% chance of being abducted if Mom blinks her eyes.

    A fourth wish…Lunch with Lenore. I would love to sit down and talk to her for a day.

  60. David August 3, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    1. That CPS not be required to take action against a parent because of the number of times they are called out for the same legal activity.
    2. That people who repeatedly make blatantly false accusations of abuse/neglect be subject to criminal prosecution and civil suit.
    3. That any parent that falsely accuses the other parent of any kind of abuse to gain an advantage in a divorce lose all parental rights to their children

  61. lollipoplover August 4, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    The launch of the PPS.
    Play Protective Services.

    To ensure the welfare of our children, our country forms an agency dedicated to protecting a child’s basic human right to play freely. Children would be *removed* from homes where they are stuck indoors on a sofa in front of screens and sent outdoors into the community to play with other children. PPS would reduce the epidemic among children known as obesity and diabetes. Parks would be mobbed, blocks and streets would be shut down for kids on bikes and toddlers on big wheels, and parents would rejoice.
    I can dream…

  62. KWD August 6, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    1. That everyone posting here tells 5 people about the Free Range philosophy. We are the grass roots movement…keep spreading the word! And send your kids out to play.

    2. That the Sex Offender Registry list contain only the names of those that are truly a risk to others.

    3.Like so many others here, that people stop calling the police for non-criminal activities.