Happy Anniversary RD, and thanks for allowing me time on your blog. RD is masterful at creating concise written pearls of wisdom. Sadly, he has not taught me that skill...Recently, stories involving the police and "free-range kids" have been in the national spotlight.The parents of free-range children argue that they encourage independence and self-confidence by allowing their young sons and daughters to go places in the community unattended: walking or biking to school, swimming at community pools, walking to area parks without parental supervision, etc.Writers like Chris Freind at NewsMax have chastised law enforcement for trying to infringe upon the rights of parents by examining these cases as possible neglect.I agree that parents should be allowed to raise kids as they see fit (and I reserve the right to call "bad parenting" when I observe it), but do we really want to discourage officers from investigating children seemingly unattended?I hope not as police intervention can stop potentially dangerous situations, as in this example from Arizona (start the following video at 1232).And, some of the arguments used to defend free-range parenting bother me, especially this one: Parents should be confident that the community will band together to ensure child safety.Mother Laura Beyer describes it as: "...if those of us who care for others would simply 'keep an eye on' children as we drive to and fro, they would be safe nonetheless. If you see a child walking and he or she is being approached by what seems to be a stranger, pull to the side of the road and ask if he or she is OK."Who is a "stranger?" A disheveled guy foaming at the mouth hiding in the bushes? Do all strangers look menacing?Danielle Metiv, a mother being investigated in Maryland for allowing her 6 and 10 year old to walk alone to and from a park a mile from their home, added: "I have no problem with people looking out for our kids. That's actually what people always did, look out for each other." Both quotes are from here.Wow, good luck with that one. Ever hear of the bystander effect?
It explains why citizens do not take action, and has been repeatedly supported. The following test was conducted in NY and illustrates how folks presented with an emergency repeatedly fail to act--even when the perception is that of a child being endangered.Ask any police officer today, and they will discuss how difficult it is to find even witnesses who want to cooperate in an investigation--most people don't want to get involved. It is simply how contemporary society is.And this reality is not something free-range parenting advocates want to hear.For a dose of reality, I'd suggest ride-alongs with a patrol officer on the overnight shift. They would then see some local "community members" in all their glory. The good, the bad, and plenty of the real ugly too.So, do we need to be helicopter parents, hovering 24-7, and put kneepads and helmets on kids before playing at the park?Of course not.But the FBI estimates about 100 child stranger abductions occur annually in the US--100 more than I am comfortable with. I don't want to depend on "Joe the Mechanic" or "Molly the Postal Clerk" to drop what he/she is doing and rush to aid my young children in an emergency; something happening a mile away from my house as I chill in front of the television or am mesmerized by the "cutest kitty photos ever" posted to Facebook.No thanks. I want to be there for the kids if that rare yet possible event occurs.Still, I am glad there are those who choose to intercede in an emergency--as these two brave teenagers did to stop a toddler abduction from a park in Lincoln County (WA) last week.Question: Do you think a 7-year old walking alone to a park is: a) not an issue, B) should be illegal, or C) just an example of naive parenting?
For More on SD, try his blog…….