Hi all, 

In the past 20 years ago or so, our culture has and continues to see the idea of stranger danger.  This is especially prevalent in the past 10 at least of those 20 years.  In this blog, I will tackle this issue.  The format is a little different because instead of giving you both sides of the story, I will give you the stranger danger version about why we should shelter our kids from, essentially from everything beyond our four walls called home (which many people in the US and world believe).  Afterwards, I will then give a cross-examination of the issue.  In that cross-examination, I will share  how we can raise our children to be safe and free.  On that note, I will share ideas from a movement called “Free Range Kids” led by the Columnist, Blogger, and creator of the “Free Range Kids” movement, Lenore Skenazy, freerangekids.com.  This movement is even sweeping the nation and the world creating awareness on this issue prevalent in this country, that we love so dearly. 

Here is the issue at hand:  Everywhere we turn, about our kids, there is a great deal of paranoia.  the paranoia comes from the idea, fear, concern, etc. that somehow, the world is out to get our kids.  You hear stories like the story  of Madeleine McCann, who was kidnapped in Portugal when her parents left her alone to go to dinner, or about little Kaylee Anthony.  In usual cases, you have your child X, usually pre college , usually involving women victims, younger in age, blonde being kidnapped, raped, beaten, and/ or murdered by this random psycho.  The idea that’s being perpetuated is that these psychos are waiting around the corner, down the street ready kidnap your kids if left alone using the same old, “I have a dog/ candy/or whatever.”  That leads right to the heart of the issue:

That children now-a-days children are to stay home and possibly go into their back yards (provided they have backyards).  They are not allowed to play in their front lawn, ride to school alone, possibly not visit their friend’s home for sleep overs.  The idea that current parents have is that children need to play video games, computer games, watch TV and cannot have the freedom of playing outside, going to the park, play a sport with their friends.  It fosters being inclusiveness, suspicion, and does not give our children with coping skills, resilience, or independence that they need and should learn earlier. 

 To further look deeper into this issue, there a subtle monster lurking behind this kind of ideology and thinking.  One that disrupt the paradigm of being parents.  It’s the legal  and/or public relations consequences of your actions.  It’s not already hard enough to raise your kids, but if you are not falling into this stranger danger, you receive bad publicity and possibly be at the tail end of a legal system.  There is the idea that some people may spank their kids ones or twice for discipline (I’m not advocating child abuse here) or feed their kids solely healthy food with no sugar or processed foods, may show that the parents are being neglectful when really they are just disciplining their child or to show them better eating habits like eating a salad opposed to sweets.  Other actions may cause the parent(s) to be heavily criticized by the media.  Who better than knowing this that our great mom, Lenore Skenazy?  In April of 2008, she let her 9-year-old son take the subway home  ALONE!  I know your thinking, “OMG, how can she?”  The only thing that happened was that her son just asked if he could, and although she was worried about him and his well being, she thought, “What could go wrong?”  Guess what?….Her son got home safely!!!!  But the cat was out of the bag.  As soon as she wrote the column on that experience, she was claimed to be “The Worst Mom in the World.”  This inspired her to create her blog freerangekids.com. 

Since the issue is being explored, now it’s time to kick it to the gutter.  Lenore, after her experience with her son, started looking deeper in this phenomena, through her blog, freerangekids.com.  She, like me finds it wierd that, in one generation, American parents have become more spineless and scared.  Our parents were allowed to play in their front yard, ride the bike or walk to school alone, go buy cereal at the local outlet store, but all of a sudden, our parents will not for the life of them or their kids let them do the same thing.  The point is that if you want to talk about safety for kids to allow them to grow as people, they have to explore the world, learn independence,  and learn street smarts (not sit on the couch smarts).  Because if you keep kids in the house, how can they explore the world and learn independence?  If you are so concerned with the psycho of the world, they are such rare occurences.  You are more likely to be striken by lightning then be kidnapped.  Plus, when a crime is committed, the victim(s) usually know the perps.  What is the harm of letting your children out to play, they can adventure, explore, learn and grow.  Whats wrong with children riding bike’s to school alone.  In those cases, what the child needs is 1.  to know red flags if someone wants to kidnaps them, like a random car following them or something else that is suspicious happens and 2.  Let them have a cell phone so they can use in case of emergencies.  I suggest strongly and I think Lenore can agree that we have to properly raise our kids while letting them be “Free Range Kids”, without being hands off or neglectful parents.  For more information about her movement, please feel free to visit her site at freerangekids.com and drop her a not. 

I feel that the bottomline is this:  is it valid that all parents worry about their kids and want to protect them from everything bad?  Yes.  But does that give them the permission slip to keep them solely in the 4 walls of their home and refuse to let them go out by themselves?  No because I feel it is doing more harm than good.  They will grow up with emotional and social scars.  On the emotional end, they will be stiffled, they cannot be as independent or resilient otherwise, and not move one beyond the 4 walls as home.   Socially, they will be suspicious of others and see the worst in others let alone keeping long-term relationships.  I do advocate being good and connected parents while allowing children the freedom of doing activities outside alone with the knowledge of what to do in suspicious situations.  I do not advocate being a neglectful or abusive parent. 

I hope you all enjoyed,