[personal profile] tigertoy
I'm going to post something here that may get me yelled it, but it's something I believe.

This was inspired by a story I just heard on the radio about how some kids in Hannibal, MO got lost in a cave and were never found. It described how they went off on their own and no one was concerned until they didn't come home for dinner, and how that would never happen today. It would be considered child neglect.

I assert* that many bad effects flow from keeping children locked in a protective regime of rules and constant observation. Because they're allowed few opportunities for independent fun, they spend a great deal of time looking at screens. Spending less time running around outdoors contributes to the obesity epidemic. Kids feeling so constrained makes them more likely to find independence by experimenting with sex and drugs. But the main bad effect is that kids raised in a bubble are unprepared for the real world where bad things can happen and it's on them, not their parents and surrogate parents, to act prudently and make decisions on their own.

I blame the media, in large part, for sensationalizing every case where something bad happens to a kid for the sake of selling more soap flakes. It's a similar problem to the way that average Americans think air travel is very risky but think nothing of the risk of car travel -- when very rare events such as plane crashes happen, they get wide coverage in part because they are rare. Things that happen all the time like fatal car accidents aren't news. And advertising based news organizations think that wall to wall coverage of the latest plane crash will attract more attention than a detailed analysis of what our leaders are up to.

Here's that part that's going to make people throw things at me: too few children get killed in this society today. Of course I don't actually want children to die, but I want children to face experiences growing up that give them the feeling that they could get hurt. They need to be exposed to that feeling to be able to act reasonably as adults, and to be ready to experience the good things in the real world rather than having been taught they are too risky to attempt. They need to have that experience of risk by themselves, not with a helicopter parent advising them at every step. And there has to be a real risk that something bad will happen; kids are often too smart to be fooled by fake experiences where there is no risk, and if they aren't fooled they're even more likely to take the lesson that bad things won't actually happen. The problem is that by definition if there is real danger, the bad outcome will happen sometimes -- more kids will die.

If they don't discover reality as kids, it comes as a horrible shock when they discover it as adults.

*I have no outside sources to cite about these beliefs, and I'm not going to try to research them. I defend these assertions only from common sense and my own observations. I believe this is sufficient basis for me to express my opinion; I'm not interested in digging around for things I can reference. I further assert that while references might be found, it would take a lot of study to actually sort out what if anything the balance of evidence would support. Please don't engage in debate in the form of "this study says this" and "this other study contradicts it" here.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-07-06 12:35 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
And this is why cavers (hobbyists and professionals alike) emphasize over and over again that you must have an outside contact, someone who knows where you went and about when you planned to be back, and who will call in the rescuers if you're several hours overdue. My now-ex enjoyed caving with his friends, and since I'm not an outdoors person I was always the one who knew their plans and waited for them to get back safely. The problem here is not "children going off on their own" but "children who were unaware of basic safety precautions for the particular thing they were doing".

There's a balance between reasonable caution and letting kids have a degree of independence, and I agree with you that it's swung too far in the direction of "protecting" children from any kind of danger. But the place where I would say that the parents of those children failed them was in not knowing the local hazards and providing appropriate safety education. Not in letting them go exploring the neighborhood on their own.



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