For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, Lenore Skenazy became the most hated Mom in America a few years ago because she let her then 9 year old son ride the New York City subway by himself. Mind you, she and her family live in NYC, her son is familiar with the subway system and had been begging his parents to let him ride the subway on his own for some time. As a result of the uproar over her decision (which people only found out about because she wrote a column about it – she certainly wasn’t trying to hide anything) she wrote a book called Free Range Kids. I mentioned this book in one of my early posts – I was particularly taken by one of the chapter sub-headings, which was something like, “Playdate or Axe Murderer; how to tell the difference”. (Ha ha! That makes me laugh every time, because I know people who treat all potential playdates as though they just might be axe murderers) Lenore also has a website and blog at www.freerangekids.wordpress.com . Her most recent post was great, and because of that, I’m copying it in full here. Enjoy!
FREE-RANGE KIDS PRESENTS
THE 2010 GOLDEN HELICOPTER PARENTING AWARDS
FOR GREAT MOMENTS IN OVER-PARENTING
And Media Fear-mongering About Kids
PRESENTED BY LENORE SKENAZY, FOUNDER OF “FREE-RANGE KIDS” (www.freerangekids.com)
Free-Range Kids is the book, blog and movement dedicated to giving kids back the fun and freedom of childhood — the kind of childhood that makes kids sunny and self-reliant. We fight the pop culture tape-loop that says children are in constant danger and incapable of doing much more than sitting in the back of the minivan, eating Pop-Tarts and being driven the three blocks to school.
How wacky was 2010 when it came to insisting our kids are in peril, pedophiles are everywhere and the only good parent is a helicopter parent? Check out our Golden Helicopters:
But It’s Still Less Creepy than “J. Edgar Barbie”: With Christmas gearing up, the FBI warned that “Video Barbie” could be used by child pornographers — even though, so far, it has never, ever seen this happen. This didn’t stop the news media from showing how Barbie could easily be used to videotape from the corner of a girl’s bedroom or even under her skirt: http://bit.ly/h4NCza; Daily Show: http://bit.ly/gpXMZQ.
How About a Creepy Mom Locator? Verizon unveiled a “Family Locator” app in an ad that showed a mom using it to track her teen daughter and two friends at the mall. Because so many groups of three teens get kidnapped together from crowded public spaces: http://bit.ly/9LnnYt
Next Week The Today Show Explains Why You Should Never Cross in Front of a Black Cat: The Today Show warned viewers that no one under 13 should trick or treat without an adult, because, “people put on masks and…do bad things.” Meanwhile, an actual study of sex crime statistics found, “zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation.” Somehow, that didn’t get mentioned on the show. http://on.wsj.com/dU64WZ
What Exciting New Career Beckons If You Live Alone with Your Cats and Talk to Your Toothbrush? Just how fragile are today’s kids? Schools have started hiring “friendship coaches” to discourage students from having best friends, because when they do, someone could feel left out. (Like…a Friendship Coach?) http://aol.it/avsWyx
And the Buns Give You Cancer: Dr. Gary Smith of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged that hotdogs be “re-designed” because, of the 20,000,000,000 hotdogs eaten annually, about 10 kids choke on them. That’s one death per 200 million franks. Smoothies! Get yer hotdog smoothies! http://aol.it/bcQr39
This Goes Double When Playing the “Flute” A new video from the musicians union in Britain instructs music teachers, “Don’t touch pupil’s fingers’ when giving lessons,” because anytime any adult touches a kid it’s practically molesting, right? What a great way to think of ALL child/adult interactions. http://bit.ly/i2By1x
And Once You Find a Grenade in a Cul de Sac You Take it Home and Have a Tea Party: After a forgotten stuffed animal was spotted on a quiet Orlando street, the nearby school went into lockdown. The bomb squad was summoned. The bomb guys blew up the stuffed animal, which turned out to be…a stuffed animal. But as one resident explained, “Once you see that it’s a stuffed animal, your mind starts racing with all kinds of…crazy stuff.” http://bit.ly/gnR2au
You ARE Allowed to Bring a Pencil: A school in suburban Colorado encouraged children to participate in the annual science fair — so long as their projects did not include organisms (living or dead), plants in soil, chemicals, microbial cultures, fungi, molds, bacteria, parasites, or flammable substances, all of which were banned. http://bit.ly/d6oGYc
You Are NOT Allowed to Bring a Pencil: A sixth grade teacher at North Brookfield (Massachusetts) Elementary School banned students from bringing pencils to class or “face disciplinary action for having materials to build weapons.” http://bit.ly/fG5dzn
And If We Find Him Making His Own Lunch, M’am, You’re Looking at Hard Time: Cops threatened a mom who let her 8-year-old son play outside: http://bit.ly/cSYfeB
Hi Snookums, How Was Your Day? (As If I Didn’t Know): Japanese inventors unveiled a GPS device children wear over their shirts that also takes photos and monitors their heart rate. That way, if their heart rate goes up, parents can take a photo of whatever is scaring their kids: http://aol.it/9HOM6e
BUT IT WASN’T ALL BAD!
THE TOP 10 FREE-RANGE KIDS MOMENTS OF THE YEAR:
But She Could Have Been Abducted! A Northern California 3-year-old saved her collapsed daddy by walking to the fire station to get help: http://bit.ly/fjETFO
Why Can’t He Sit in the Back of an SUV and Sulk Like a Normal Kid? After initially saying no, a school board reluctantly reversed itself and allowed a boy to ride his bike to school: http://bit.ly/gDHKCv
The Nerve! Two Canadian fifth graders gathered 250 names on their petition to be allowed to play with balls during recess: http://bit.ly/eF0zCy
Now Even Lumberjacks are Okay: British Airways ended its “All men are perverts” policy of moving any male seated next to an unaccompanied minor. (Okay, after it was sued for sex discrimination.): http://bit.ly/d43n07
The Rosa Parks of Roses: Volunteer flower arranging ladies at Gloucester Catherdral in England (average age: 70) were told to undergo background checks to confirm they weren’t convicted child molesters. The chief volunteer refused, calling it insulting. Others followed her lead. http://bit.ly/eXgoB3
When it’s Not Strep Throat, Viral Is Good: A fed-up Texas mom (who is also a cancer researcher) blazed onto the parenting scene with viral “Mom-Petitor” cartoons ridiculing parental perfection: http://bit.ly/fyXk8O
Annoy Me Again and I’ll Make You Renovate the Library: After a mom got chewed out by local police for letting her 10-year-old walk to soccer, she became an activist and got her small Mississippi town to put in new sidewalks and bike paths: http://bit.ly/ck9d2S
How Could Kenneth Branagh Ever Leave This Woman? Emma Thompson (a.k.a. Nanny McPhee) told the world that kids need to take risks and even get a little bruised to end up resilient and happy: http://bit.ly/gl6Kg4
Not the “Predator Picnic” The Media Promised It Would Be? Children made new friends and played without being dragged off and killed, during first annual “Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day” — despite rampant fear-mongering in the press: http://bit.ly/9ATz3Y (And follow-up comments: http://bit.ly/9wYHGo)
Somehow We Missed This on Nancy Grace: A massive federal study found all child abuse down by a stunning 26% from 1993-2006, and child sex abuse down even more—38%! http://bit.ly/elfmUA