Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is Ten the New Two???

I've referenced Lenore Skenazy's blog before with regard to her TV appearance on the Dr. Phil show. (Here's my post from December 2008 on the topic of Free-Range Kids. That particular post of mine was so popular it garnered a whole ONE comment!)

Today on my way home from work, I was listening to a talk radio show where the host referenced a March post on Lenore's blog that was written in response to a comment by a reader. (I am probably waaaaaay behind the news on this one, but I felt compelled to write a blog post anyway; because it's my blog and I can do that ;-) If this is yesterday's news to you, feel free to mosey on to one of the more popular blogs in your Google reader.

The reader wrote to Lenore expressing her surprise at almost being charged with child endangerment. Her crime: She let her 10 year old walk a half mile to his soccer game *gasp* BY HIMSELF. She was also headed to the same soccer game, but allowed him to walk ahead, while she left a short while later in her car to meet him at the game.

He was armed with his cell phone in case he ran into any trouble. Here's the interesting part: By the time she arrived, police were there to greet her. They informed her that they had received hundreds of calls to 911 from callers concerned that he was walking alone. She was told that she could be charged with child endangerment.

Today being 1/2 price sub night, I returned home with our subs and mentioned the story to VC, who was aghast. You see, since he was 11, he has been very independent, even riding his bicycle over a mile to visit friends. I also make sure he has my cell phone and that he keeps me posted if his plans change. Of course, he is very responsible, just like his mom :D

I think it really depends on the maturity of the child, as well as the environment. (The boy in this case lives in a small Mississippi town.) We do not live in a large neighborhood so he has to leave our neighborhood and venture out into other neighborhoods before making it to his friend's house. (and yes, there are some dots on the registered sex offender map in our vicinity-- by I challenge you to find a place without any dots, unless you happen to live in the sticks.) He has been able to handle this on his own without incident for a few years now.

If the 10 year old at the center of the controversy (who I understand was very familiar with the route) was a responsible young man, I see no reason why he shouldn't have been allowed to walk. Granted he was walking on his own and not with a group of friends. (I recall walking a mile to school when I was 6 back in the Ice Age, but with friends.)

Do you believe the mom in this story was seriously endangering her child? Would you have called 911?

23 comments:

Lisa Paul said...

Jeez, no wonder kids are so fat and we are burning so many fossil fuels. Unless you live in the middle of ghetto and your child has to pass more than one crack den, half a mile is a very short distance to trust a ten year old to traverse. Especially when they have a cell phone and you are meeting them at the end of the walk.

Why, kids today, I used to walk miles to school. Uphill both ways. Through blinding hailstorms. With a twenty pound sack on my back.

And you tell that to people today and they just won't believe you.

Tammy Howard said...

No, and no. (and yet I overprotect - just a little)

Tater Tot Mom said...

That is absolutely crazy! Who are these people calling the police over a 10 year old walking by himself?? I mean I can understand like 5 or 6 but 10! I walked a whole mile to school at that age! It's insanity...people are too paranoid. We have become a fear mongering nation.

Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

I've got a twelve year old. And he says I'm overprotective. But... I let him go to the movies with his friends, walk to school, roam around Target without me, walk downtown with his cousin to get ice cream. Although we'd like to keep them in a perfect bubble (especially when I hear the news) that's not teaching them anything.

Call 911? Um no. Child endangerment? I don't think so. Unless there is more of a story about this mom that we don't know about...

cherie said...

i would have called HER! i dunno, i am sooo scared, i still feel the after effects of the duggard drama...nothing wrong in wanting to know why a child was walking alone...

Kathie @ my net finds said...

are you even kidding me?! I noticed when I was student teaching that no kids walked home from school and I thought it was pretty pathetic then and that was 11-12 years ago now. Ridiculous, I say. Child endangerment for letting a kid walk ahead?....I don't know if I want to have a kid in this world.

Lucy said...

Never in a million years would I call! You know how I feel about Helicopter parents, this is beyond that and the police responding is just sad, obviously they have nothing better to do.
What kind of kids are we raising? Scared, measley dependent BRATS!!!!

Laura said...

Child endangerment? NO! That is crazy that that many people called the police, there's no way it was their first time ever seeing a kid walk alone! GEEZ! Although I must totally admit I doubt that I would let my own kids do it becuase I am a complete freak and always have horrible thoughts running through my head and all that bad stuff....you get the idea. :)

scrappysue said...

ugh - it's just all got so out of hand. how are these kids EVER going to grow up and know how to look after themelves?

Kristin said...

I personally wouldn't let the dude do it at that age, but I'm crazy overprotective. Working on that. Ah ha. I would not have called the authorities.

Alicia said...

are you kidding? i mean i'm rather over protective but this is just insane. do you know how many kids walk home from school every day?! are you telling me that their parents are endangering them by letting them walk?? people need to chill...

Vodka Logic said...

It certainly does seem extreme but I admit I do tend to the cautious side,

My kids will say "you don't trust me" I say "its not you I don't trust, it is all the weirdos out there"

Good post

xx

angelcel said...

This is such an enormous subject with, I think, no right and wrong answer. To be honest, for a start I'd have to know the area. You know I live in an island community where children should probably, in theory, be safer than elsewhere but I still didn't allow my girls anything like the freedom I had as a child. I just never wanted my child to be that 'chance in a million' statistic and certainly cases like Madeleine McCann and Jacey Lee Dugard do nothing to allay the fears of fretful parents like me.

That being said, I'm a little tired of everyone automatically taking it upon themselves to get in my (and everyone else's) business. The way you've described it this isn't a known dangerous area and the Mum (presumably knowing her own child!) took the opinion that he was old enough to cope with a short walk on his own. On that basis there is no way I'd stick my nose in and call the authorities. That must be a decision that she as, I hope, a responsible parent must take. However, to play devil's advocate for a moment: how would we non-meddlers feel if we found out that the child had been snatched? See what I mean? No right and wrong answer.

About the only solution I have to this perpetual modern conundrum is to lock the convicted perverts away *for ever* and to not tolerate any exploitation of children by a massive global crackdown on child porn. Maybe then we'd *all* start to feel that we had a safer society, and we'd all start to relax.

Fantastic post BTW.

Rebecca Jo said...

Come on now... 10 year olds are in gangs & having sex anymore (not that I agree with that!!!) but the point is they are bigger then most people think!!! If it were a BABY - & I consider that under 5, then yeah, call someone... but geez... its not like the mom sent him in the alley's of downtown on his own...

people are so worried about others WAY too much!

Dave @ Home School Dad said...

We live in a small house on a small block. From time to time we will ask our kids to walk around the block for excercise. We never send the 3 year old by herself. However a couple weeks ago we sent her with our almost 8 year old son (in broad daylight). No streets to cross just 4 corners of sidewalk to make right angles on. After they had been home about 5 minutes, our 2 doors down neighbor knocked on our door to tell us that they walked around the block by themselves. My wife thanked them and informed her that she had in fact sent them.
At the time we thought that this was because a) she lost a son to illness a few years back and she and her other children spend most of their time in house. b) My son is short for his age and it may have looked like a 6 year old walking a 4 year old (my daughter is tall for her age).

However after reading your post, I believe it is more of a sign of where our culture is going. We are very protective of our children, but we also believe that we are to prepare our children for adulthood. We do this by modeling and assigning age and emotional age appropriate responsibilites along their journey.

Karen said...

You've got to be kidding me! I'm as overprotective as they come, but no way would I call the police on someone for letting their child walk someplace. Of course, if that child were 2...

Yankee Girl said...

This actually really pisses me off. There are SO MANY parents out their who are neglecting their children and actually causing harm and this is the parent who gets the cops called on her????

Are people crazy????

He's 10. He's at an age where he wants independence and responsibility. He has to start somewhere. I think having him walk somewhere his parents will be meeting him is a good first step.

Really people, leave this family alone. We need to prepare our kids for the outside world, not shelter them from it.

shraddha/april@theselfloveproject said...

so strange..

wow..you always write such thought provoking things..

shraddha

Randi Troxell said...

lord no!!! i sooo wouldn't have called 911.... i can remember being no older than 6 or so... and my parents would leave me at home (granted only for a short while) ... and i turned out just fine! i think that we're just leaving in a much different place now... either a parents seems to protective or either not enough... finding that happy medium is so the key!

Debbie said...

Good grief no. My kids run around outside and have forever. They know the rules and where they are allowed to go. We have gotten insane in this country.

Dr.John said...

Life has changed I used to ride alone on my bike to the cemetery where my grandfather was buried. That was a five mile ride. I was ten. Nobody thought anything of it. I had no cell phone. But that was long ago in a world that doesn't exist anymore.

Janna Bee said...

I've been going places on my bike since I was 10 or 11. This is totally weird. The kid must look really young or something! The poor Mom!

EmergingERA said...

I definitely think that this depends on maturity level, and a mother would know when her child was ready to walk a half-mile on his/her own!

Times have changed, though--it just doesn't seem as safe. I cringe sometimes (and worry), when I see 10-ish looking kids walking or riding public transportation alone. Here in Washington DC, only children with special needs are brought to and from school on a school bus, so it's commonplace to see some 10-, and many 11- and 12-year-olds going solo en route to school.

So, it's not that I think these kids are incapable of making the trip on their own--I just worry about the potential harm that could come their way!

Can't BELIEVE that 911 was called on this particular mom, though. Instead of running to their phones, it would have been more helpful had the callers just watched behind the boy, on his journey up the block, seeing to it that he made his destination safely. Now, that's a good neighbor/citizen!

(thanks for the SITS Welcome!)

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