Keep Those Kids at Home and In Front of a Screen!

Here’s a Maryland couple who got in trouble with the Government because they let their children–a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old–walk home from the park by themselves.  They (the parents) were found responsible for “unsubstantiated child neglect”–whatever that means….it sounds pretty Kafkaesque.

There are at least two issues here:  out-of-control discretion by an administrative agency, whether granted to them by bad legislative drafting, or simply grabbed…and, even more fundamentally, a society which has responded to one of the safest environments in human history by becoming fear-ridden and safety-obsessed.

I am reminded, and not for the first time, of a passage in Walter Miller’s great novel A Canticle for Leibowitz:

To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.

10 thoughts on “Keep Those Kids at Home and In Front of a Screen!”

  1. Childhood obesity grows apace. The only alternative is organized children’s sports, which exist mostly in middle class neighborhoods like mine.

    I walked 4 blocks to kindergarten, which in Chicago is a half mile. I crossed a busy street. My mother sent a boy who lived across the street with me the first day to show me the way. My grandchildren are driven to school by their parents even though it is no farther and they play league sports beginning at age 6.

  2. Great quote, and I am using it immediately.

    The safer we become, the more our natural fear – the alertness and suspicion we evolved to survive – is turned on lesser dangers. As we become wealthier, safer, and longer-lived, the angrier we get at God for allowing evil to exist.

  3. Kafkaesque seems to be the leitmotif of the modern world. I agree completely with this post.

  4. I let my daughter ride all over the urbanization where we lived in Spain (c 1986-1990) as soon as she could manage her bicycle. She loved having that bike, it was her freedom, her mini-automobile, and she could go wherever she liked, with her friends within reason; the little grocery store, the candy/stationary store, even the bar – which sold soft drinks and fast foods (the alcoholic drinks were adults-only.) And — our neighborhood in Spain was patrolled by a private security service; mostly a retired Guadia Civil agent who was amazingly competent. His nickname was Juan Vigilante. The flock of kids on bikes – I used to think it was like watching a flock of birds. Later on – in Utah, (1990-92) she walked to and from school by herself. A matter of less than a mile or so, either way.

    As a kid myself, I walked to school, most days. A mile to two miles. City/suburban streets. One fairly dangerous four-lane road to cross, early on. We had an adult crossing-guard, who would be on duty for only half an hour, perhaps 40 minutes after our release from school. In elementary school, those of us who lived in our neighborhood couldn’t be held after school for any reason – because we would miss the crossing-guard duty hours. IIRC, Mom only drove us to school when it was pissing down rain.

    If I have any claim on fitness at all, it was because I routinely walked to school – even in college, when I walked from the bus stop at the bottom of a very steep hill.

  5. BTW, I recall seeing the results of a poll asking people if they support prosecuting parents for letting their children play unsupervised. The majority said yes. I did not see the poll or remember who conducted it, so I don’t know if it was legitimate or simply designed to get the answer they were looking for. It’s dispiriting if was though.

  6. This post seems relevant:

    (quote from Sarah’s blog tryingtogrok, which she unfortunately isn’t updating anymore)

    I am no longer teaching knitting classes, but I am still working at Michaels when they have in-store events. And my favorite thing to do is watch parents interact with their kids when they bring them in for the kid-geared free events.

    One example was the day sponsored by Crayola where the kids got to try out these fancy new markers and paper. So the craft was to make a door hanger, you know, like a Keep Out sign. And it was fascinating how many parents didn’t like the way their kid was coloring or what he was doing and literally took the markers from his hands and made the hanger for him.

  7. It is Orwellian that such a state law exists to begin with. It punches my daddy buttons to the max — and I’m a bachelor.

  8. The destruction of the family has been the core of the governing political party’s domestic agenda for 50 years, they’ve never made a secret of it.

    This you know is the true rule of law in America – licensed letters of marque and reprisal against Americans with every new law license. Having destroyed marriage as far as the courts are concerned and raided our commerce into destruction or flight they turn now on what scraps remain.

    The fighting is most vicious when the stakes are scraps, and that is our current status.

  9. As kids we lived an almost Huck Finn lifestyle. It was country, too far to walk to school. A river, ponds, and acres and acres of woodland, fields, old barns and houses. Tetanus shots were common. Although the old man had lefty sympathies, there were guns. BB guns, then pellets. Then the move up to .22 and .410 Lawn and farm equipment, operating tractors and the pickup as soon as the feet reached the pedals. Outboard motors and shenanigans on the river. Motorcycles. Late sixties early seventies was the heyday of Motocross in the U.S. We had the bug. Trail riding dawn to dusk. (on the pavement too, ahem) Barefoot all summer. Bee, wasp and hornet stings. Fireworks. Farm animals large and small. Tree climbing tree-houses, rope swing into the river. Walk to the nearby village through the woods. In the dark. Dogs, cats, bites and scratches.

    My grandson is five. My daughter flipped when his father took him to jiu-jitsu class. I told her it will be necessary for this generation of European-American boys to know how to defend themselves. She looked at me like I was insane. Then I made a joke about shooting skills and how much boys love dirt-bikes. She didn’t speak to me for a while. I had to say I was just joshing…the kids next door are home schooled, I smile every time I see the bus go past their house, see them walking around the backyard barefoot. They’ll get a little piece of it. Thank God

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