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Reblogged:Against Magical Thinking on Child Safety

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In a testament to just how mindless an age we live in, Lenore Skenazy has had to write a column titled, "Parents: Kids CAN Be Left Alone for a Few Minutes."

Within, she addresses today's conventional "wisdom" that not directly supervising a child invites calamity. She opens with the story of a woman in Connecticut who let her six-year-old son browse in the library during her short trip across the street to buy him a snack.

The librarian read her the riot act upon her return.

Having dealt with similar when my children were younger, I am grateful Skenazy has decided to do battle in this particular theater of the war for common sense. I like her approach, which combats the common and lazy reliance on statistics as an excuse not to give a situation even a modicum of thought:
Image by Pixabay, via Pexels, license.
The boy was not unsafe. In the past 10 years, I can find two stories of kids abducted from a library anywhere in America. In a country of 70,000,000 children, that is . . . well, I don't have to do the math. That's the thing. When we start saying, "It's just a 1 in 873,423,010 chance," people respond, "I don't want my child to be the one."

As a parent I get it. Still, we have to stop turning remote dangers into "risks." Some things are not risks, even if once in a while someone gets hurt in the process. People sometimes fall off couches and die. That doesn't make couch-sitting risky. Kids can get hurt at school, but sending them to school isn't reckless.

We also have to stop thinking of kids as expensive, inert objects...


"Children are precious and a 6-year-old should never be left alone like that, not anywhere," wrote one. "I'd bet [the mom] wouldn't leave a million dollars at the library while she ran across the street would she?"

But a million dollars can't yell! Or kick! Or bite! A million dollars is also a lot more tempting to grab and run. [bold added]
You might be tempted to chuckle by that last line, but it's perhaps the most important part: No rational weighing of the risk of something untoward happening, say in a library, is possible without considering what it would take for that thing to occur.

A child is not going to go quietly with some stranger, and that stranger would know that other adults (aka witnesses) are around, just for starters.

It is common today to blame people for engaging in magical thinking when they propose an implausible solution to a problem, but that's not the only form of magical thinking. Wild catastrophism is another form of magical thinking, and indulging others who engage in it does no favors to ourselves or for our children.

-- CAV

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