Wednesday, August 28, 2002

A Question of Safety

In regard to Elaine's comment in Dru's protest blog about children being safer even 15 or 20 years ago, do you folks think that alert systems such as the Amber Alert and the media coverage of certain missing children cases make parents more paranoid and fearful for our children?

In our family's case, it certainly has gotten to my husband. We have a chain link fence around the perimeter of our property and normally I allow our 3 year old to go out and play after I've gone out and used the clasp of an old dog leash to lock off the gate. He's not allowed in the back of the property unless I'm with him, but he can play in the front yard where he's in full view through the front door and bay window. I did this the other day and hubby nearly went through the roof. Granted there had just been 2 kidnappings in our area (So. Calif.) in recent days, but the boy needed some fresh air and sunshine and to be out of my hair while I got some housework done.

Hubby grew up here in a far more dangerous area than the one we live in now. He talks about how he rode his bike everywhere he wanted to go from the time he was about 10, and that his mom would leave him alone in their apartment from the age of about 6. He says he was one of the original latchkey kids. Just this year though, did he give permission to our soon to be 14 year old to ride the mile to the local high school so he could take swim lessons.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, where our nearest neighbor was over 3 miles away. I played outside and wandered all over our property, rarely seeing another human being outside our family unit. My parents didn't allow me to play near the road, as they said, "just anybody could come along and pick you up and we'd not know about it for hours!" Sensible warning for a 7 year old, but that was the most danger I ever knew of as a child. I know I always thought my parents were being way overprotective of me, but now I'm not so sure.

Are we doing our children a disservice by being more overprotective than our parents were?

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