Friday, April 04, 2008

Nine Year Old Rides Subway Alone; Doesn't Die

Kudos to this mother who let her nine year old son ride home alone on the subway. Armed with 20 bucks, a subway map and some quarters in case he needed to make a phone call, the lad made it home alive and well and feeling a little more independent. The mother is lucky if some meddling busybody from the child welfare bureaucracy doesn’t come calling.

I reckon that it should be unremarkable for children to ride buses and subways and get around on their own, but parents seem to believe that there is a child molester or kidnapper behind every tree or lurking in every alley or that their children are just too plain stupid to master such tasks as riding a public conveyance or walking a few blocks on their own. My conspecifics who are parents of younger children are quick to point out the risks from molesters and kidnappers when I ask about why their kids are always under such close surveillance. I point out that these risks are tiny, and that the risk of being killed or hurt while riding in car is many orders of magnitude greater. Why then do these parents let their children ride in cars? All I get are blank looks.

My theories: (1) parents are not so much concerned about the safety of their children than on the societal blame that will befall them if their children are molested or kidnapped, whereas they will be blameless in the event of a much more likely car accident; (2) having their children victimized by a molester or kidnapper would bother parents a lot more than a straightforward run of the mill death or maiming in a car crash; (3) the parents are actually just not very good at risk assessment and didn’t think to have extra children in case one or more was killed or snatched; (4) their children really are pretty stupid, or at least their parents reckon they are.

1 comment:

D. Saul Weiner said...

I would go with Risk assessment. Our society has really embraced the infantilization of our kids. While it was common throughout history for kids aged 16 or 17 to get married, nowadays parents think that teenagers are entirely incompetent and irresponsible. And all the moreso for the younger kids.