Poll: most Americans want to make it a crime for children to play without supervision

"A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that."

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  1. I read this earlier, and found a link to an article by a woman who was threatened with prosecution for leaving her child unattended for five minutes (in a car, with adequate ventilation). It included this interesting quote from Lenore Skenazy:

    There’s some risk no matter what you do. So why is one choice illegal and one is OK? Could it be because the one choice inconveniences you, makes your life a little harder, makes parenting a little harder, gives you a little less time or energy than you would have otherwise had?

    The comments thread, much like that poll, suggests that many people have internalized standards for parental supervision of children that seem to me insane, and impossible to maintain. People wonder how it is that there's so little resistance to worsening social conditions. If a majority of adults are afraid of the consequences of leaving a child alone for even a few minutes, how can they find the time and energy to fight for their own rights and for their future?

  2. Seki says:

    It's becoming increasingly difficult to not follow the hovering trend to some extent because of, essentially, peer pressure. One of my biggest source of stress and frustration as a parent is the social expectations attached to parenting. Once you have a kid, you enter this sphere where you have to interact and contend with a barrage of opinions and judgement.
    If I allow my four year old to play by herself around our yard, my nagging concern is not that she will get snatched or gruesomely injured, it's that the neighbourhood will declare me neglectful.

    I know parents who had CPS called on them because their house was messy. It wasn't squalid or full of garbage; it was messy from having 5 children in it. Nothing came out of it, fortunately, but if child protective services showed up at my door because someone had reported my laundry pile, I would be extremely disturbed. It's like having a child gives the whole world carte blanche to tell you how to run your entire life.

  3. Although most of the men I know are actively afraid to interact with children who they don't know because they are perceived as dangerous when they do so.

    This is the big problem. Being a parent is an experience of being constantly judged by everyone. What's worse is that our society does so little to actually help parents. The choice of 9-years-old for this law is presumably a reference to the woman who was arrested for letting her child play in a park when she went to work. That woman was making a choice between paying rent/buying food on one hand and hovering over her child on the other. That's the kind of life-and-death decision that parents have always had to make, and a parent shouldn't be punished for making it. Instead, maybe we should realign our fabulously rich society so that we don't have people choosing between those two things.

    The fact that we aren't doing that shows that as a society we don't give a shit about kids. What we care about is oppressing poor people.

    @PrestonSturges made this point really well while discussing a kid being arrested for an English assignment:

    The gun issue is just one example. There are tons of people out there making the lives of children worse in the name of looking after kids.

  4. By the age of 8 I had to walk or ride a bike to school in a community with no buses for a distance of over a mile. Not that I wouldn't have preferred to take a bus (I would've during winter months), but the expectation that a kid at that age would be responsible enough to make the journey was a normal expectation.

    Am having a hard time recalling when, exactly, children began to be infantilized in the US. As a parent, I kinda hate it. I should be the final arbiter of what my son is allowed to do, not the fucking curtain twitchers down the block.

  5. Most people don't refer to 34-year-olds as 415 month olds, but to each their own.

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