Friday, March 20, 2009

Free Range Kids

In this day in age, is a child walking 1/3rd of a mile to soccer practice such an irresponsible crime?

I just had to share something from the newest addition to my list of websites helping to make the world a better place for kids. It's a blog called Free Range Kids by Leonore Skenazy, subtitled "Giving our kids the freedom we had without going nuts with worry." It is these kinds of blogs that I consider to be part of the solution, the dialogues encouraged there strike at the crucial issues facing youth in this era of raving over-protectionism with some reasoned parenting and good judgment. Good judgment isn't leashing your kids, nor is it totally abandoning them--it's knowing their limits and allowing them to work within them.

This is where irresponsible Protectionism has gotten us:
Dear Readers: The following is an exchange I had earlier this week with a mom who wrote to this blog. It shows how those of us who trust our own eyes, and guts, and neighborhood, and children can get beaten down…and rise up again.

A WOMAN NAMED LORI WROTE: I went searching for your story after an experience last night. My 10-year-old son wanted the chance to walk from our house to soccer practice behind an elementary school about 1/3 mile from our house. He had walked in our neighborhood a number of times with the family and we have driven the route to practice who knows how many times. It was broad daylight - 5:00 pm. I had to be at the field myself 15 minutes after practice started, so I gave him my cell phone and told him I would be there to check that he made it and sent him off. He got 3 blocks and a police car intercepted him. The police came to my house — after I had left — and spoke with my younger children (who were home with Grandma). They then found me at the soccer field and proceeded to tell me how I could be charged with child endangerment. They said they had gotten “hundreds” of calls to 911 about him walking. Now, I know bad things can happen and I wasn’t flippant about letting him go and not checking up, but come on. I live in a small town in Mississippi. To be perfectly honest, I’m much more concerned about letting him attend a birthday party sleepover next Friday, but I’m guessing the police wouldn’t be at my house if I chose to let him go (which I probably won’t).

If you read on, you find out the mother recieved an apology from all who were involved in this needless incident. When you consider that things like this happen every day, you have to wonder how much of our society's resources are being used up on such things that could be out there preventing real harm from happening. Child autonomy is not a crime.

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