Our kids are suffering from an orgy of bad parenting. Yes, there are real dangers to kids, but the main harm they face is imposed by their own parents.
Entire generations of children have grown up under the wings of paranoid, over-protective hawks, who teach them to fear the world, to distrust everyone, and to seek some strong, authority figure to protect them from monsters under their beds.
Yes, most monsters parents fear do not exist. This doesn't mean that some children aren't kidnapped, but these are rare exceptions. In addition, incompetent parents now see childhood as extending further and further into adulthood.
Consider the video below.
Tasha Washington's son is graduating high school. Her son Marcus, along with others, caused damage to a resort where they were staying on their senior trip. They were sent back to Philadelphia by train, a five-hour trip. Tasha is "outraged" and "livid" that her "child" made the trip without adult supervision. I too am outraged and livid. Apparently she raised a son, who is either 17 or 18 years of age, about to graduate high school, and possibly going off to college, yet incapable of riding a train for five hours without an adult holding his hand. His livid mother can't see him as competent enough to spend five hours on a train.
If her appraisal is correct, then Marcus either has serious developmental issues or suffers from bad parenting. Surely a lifetime of parenting should prepare a high school graduate to ride a train for a few hours without a babysitter.
Back when I'd fly -- the TSA made me a non-flyer by choice -- I was in a California airport in a relatively small waiting area. A few feet away, there was a mother with her daughter, perhaps five or six years old. The girl walked toward the window to look out. She was in a straight line of vision from her mother and only about three feet further away than before.
Mommy had looked away briefly and then turned back looking at the spot where the daughter had been standing. Not seeing her, instead of looking a few feet further, she started screaming for her daughter. The girl immediately came right back and Mommy started berating her and telling how the world was filled with awful people who would do terrible things to do her. She must never walk anywhere by herself as she was always in danger. She sounded just like George Bush trying to terrorize Americans into given up civil liberties to protect us from "tear-rists."
Child advocacy groups, many of which want to stoke the terror, will tell you hundreds of thousands of kid are "reported missing" every year. What that means, is that Mommy or Daddy doesn't know where the kid is and reports it. They could be next door playing, or merely watching out the widow when a paranoid mother has a public fit.
Most children who are abducted are not taken by strangers, but by one of their own parents or another family member in a custody dispute. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children says of stranger abduction:
Such abductions are rare enough that the estimates of the number of care- taker missing and reported missing children abducted by a nonfamily perpetrator are not very reliable and have very large confidence intervals. Stereotypical kidnappings are the particular type of nonfamily abduction that receives the most media attention and involves a stranger or slight acquaintance who detains the child overnight, transports the child at least 50 miles, holds the child for ransom, abducts the child with intent to keep the child permanently, or kills the child. They represent an extremely small portion of all missing children. (The Law Enforcement Study found that an estimated 115 of the nonfamily abducted children were victims of stereotypical kidnappings and that 90 of these qualified as reported missing.) p. 6.
Far more kids are thrown out by their parents for being gay than are victims of stereotypical kidnappings.
USA Today noted: "Many parents rarely let their kids roam the neighborhood, use public transportation or walk to school alone. Play and sports are organized into play dates and teams, and extracurricular activities eat up kids' free time." The result of this is "increasing signs" that children lack independence, are more stressful, anxious and depressed.
Professor of Social Work, Michael Ungar, says: "Research shows very clearly that kids are safer today." But, parents are terrified and pass their paranoid insecurities to their children.
Anyone with small children today lives in a world where the risks are actually lower than when they were children themselves. Sociologist Barry Glassner, in The Culture of Fear, says that people perceive greater danger even while actual risks are declining.
Anyone with small children today lives in a world where the risks are actually lower than when they were children themselves.
In my childhood, we walked to school and home again every day. There were no cell phones for parents to monitor our every move -- some even have GPS tracking. We played outside, unsupervised, and were told to be home when the streetlights came on.
We wandered in woods and fields, next to our suburban tracts. We caught snakes and frogs and, to the consternation of babysitters and mothers, frequently brought them home.
Almost any child over the age of 12 was considered babysitting material and would not only watch their siblings frequently, but do the same for neighbors to earn some cash. I remember the time my mother, a single-parent, got stuck at the hospital in a blizzard for two days. I, and my brothers, fed ourselves and managed quite well.
We played without adult supervision. We wandered near and far. Rarely, did parents know precisely where we were. We were children who often spent five hours playing away from home, entirely on our own. Today, we have high school seniors who allegedly aren't capable of riding a train for five hours without their mother having televised fits over it.
Those weren't the good old days, either. By every measure of security, children are much safer today than during my childhood. What has changed, are parents. They are fearful and paranoid, without an accurate grip on reality, imposing their problems on their children. They are training up a generation to fear the world and seek out the security of some authority figure to protect them from imaginary monsters.