She lets her kid ride the New York subways alone.
I don't think that Skenazy intended to be the most public face in the burgeoning movement to let our kids 'free range' again, but by going as public as to write a few columns about it, has made her the point person. Since the parenting trend has leaned towards more helicopter than free range, Skenazy has faced some serious condemnation.
Frankly, I agree with Skenazy. OUR KIDS HAVE NEVER BEEN THIS SAFE. Just because the media seizes on the one-in-a-million (literally) cases doesn't mean our kids are in constant danger. It's more likely that they will be harmed at home and by people they know than in any other way.
New York City, for instance, is safer than it's ever been; it's ranked 136th in crime among all American cities. Nationwide, stranger abductions are extremely rare; there's a one-in-a-million chance a child will be taken by a stranger, according to the Justice Department. And 90 percent of sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows. Mortality rates from all causes, including disease and accidents, for American children are lower now than they were 25 years ago. according to Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group, between 1980 and 2003 death rates dropped by 44 percent for children ages five to 14 and 32 percent for teens aged 15 to 19.
Obviously, we should do what makes us comfortable, but for some of us, that's going to mean letting our kids walk to school by themselves, running to the store for errands (a loaf of bread, a container of milk, a stick of butter,) and letting them make some of their own decisions. I fully expect that in a couple years I'll wave goodbye to El Guille as he peddles off by himself to a friend's house or other activities. For her part, Lenore's son is nine years old, an age where I would feel utterly comfortable letting Guille go to school by himself.
Are we so nervous about what could happen that we don't let our kids experience the chance to manage their own time, make their own choices, and exercise independence?
I, for one, can't wait to start reading Lenore's blog, called appropriately Free Range Kids.
What are your thoughts?