Don’t Lock Up the Children

I saw this post about a girl who got hit by a car, and many of the comments were directed at the girl’s parents.

What morons! The blaming bicyclists (and their parents) first (BBF) angers me so much.

I think that it’s totally realistic to have a world that is relatively safe for children.

I am getting really tired of the notion that to keep children safe, we must imprison them.

Childless by choice, I usually don’t think of children too much.

But since moving to the Heights, in San Diego, I noticed a LOT of children playing safely around my neighborhood, and it started me wondering where all the children are.

For example, in North Park, do you see children playing?

Finally, yesterday, I did. I rode right by it until princess pointed out that behind a giant fence, fit for a prison, children were playing.

Besides the anti-social practice of shutting down several streets in order to plonk a school there, I abhor the idea that our society is so terrible that we need to lock up our children.

I know the whole danger of sexual predators, blah, blah, blah, but I think that perhaps there’s a better way.

I think about in older and wiser societies where all the adults in the community keep their eyes on the local children so that nobody hurts them.

In the skating slab where I ride my bicycle through as a peaceful shortcut from cars, there are always adults watching from afar. This is good.

What’s not good is the idea that a child is only safe behind a fence. That they can’t be out of sight from their parent’s eyes for an instant.

I believe that children are far more intelligent than are given credit. I think that there is far less sexual predators than we are led to believe.

In fact, the biggest danger to children’s lives is car accidents. This is where the kids sit INSIDE the cars. Where’s the outrage for that? How come they NEVER play scary music and show automobiles? How come parents are encouraged to drive their children to school when the school bus is the safest way to get there?

This is because while fear is a useful emotion, it’s not always the best way to make decisions.

We can’t tell stories of a single child who got hurt while making decisions on how to make children the safest. We must look at ALL the children got hurt and HOW they got hurt.

If we are so crazy paranoid about hurting our kids, why don’t we ban ALL motoring now?

If I mentioned other activities that had a fraction of the danger, we’d ban them immediately such as cycling. We’d have police officers harassing parents who let their child cycle instead of making the route safe for them to cycle.

I’ll wrap up by saying that making our kids “safe” by locking them up is not free. It takes a HUGE toll. I was pretty messed up by my own parents by being denied the right to leave my lawn for years.

While the other children played outside and socialized, I was stuck inside studying. I cried a lot and I’m still sad about it.

I recall the one glorious summer, I stayed with my Aunt in Atlanta and she allowed my cousin and I to ride the metro to get to day camp. It was so liberating!

We can’t deny our children the right to cycle. There are many other things that are totally killing our kids like obesity and diabetes. Jail time is not the answer.

Let’s tear down the fences around the schools and build bridges with adults who care about the children’s REAL safety and not some bullshit, TSA-style facade where we continue to cart around over weight kids in big cars and then watch them die when the Escalade rolls over because mom was texting.


6 Responses to “Don’t Lock Up the Children”

  1. DanaPointer Says:

    World that is safe for kids to play in is also nicer for adults to live in. What adults like walking or hanging out on the shoulder of 8 lane arterial. Safe for kids is safer for everyone. Bottom line, there is no downside to better urban planning.

  2. Steve A Says:

    Actually, people are about equally likely to die on a bike as to die in a motor vehicle. At least that is true if we exclude all motor vehicle deaths except those where the deceased drown after being unable to exit the vehicle after it became submerged.

    I feel fortunate I grew up before the nanny state became so pervasive. Despite flying over my handlebars with no helmet as a kid, I grew up without brain damage – well, at least perhaps. Hmm, perhaps brain damage would explain all my failures in life. I coulda been a contender!

    • Fred Says:

      Haha, nice.

      Though, I feel that I should add the phrase “nanny state” to unhelpful phrases.

      I do feel that the government can put us at risk or make us safer.

      For better or worse, the US govt has a powerful role in everyone’s lives. Reducing the role to make us safer would put us at more risk.

      I do NOT want to put people, especially children, at more risk.

      My point was _how_ we make ourselves safe should be carefully, and that sometimes trying to be safer will actually put one at risk.

      Your comment was helpful in forcing me to be more specific in my views, so thank-you.

      I’m more evolutionary than revolutionary.

  3. Steve A Says:

    A couple of people drowned in a car around DFW just in the last month. Luckily, a couple others were fished out without fatalities.

    • Fred Says:

      To paraphrase “sustainable safety”, even the loss of one human life is a tragedy that should be mourned and regretted.

      I know someone who has manual windows due to that exact fear of getting stuck in his car underwater. Engineers, the guys who actually know how things work. 🙂

      That being said, I think that we should stay away from the us vs. them approach and try to make _all_ modes safer. I see that this is happening all ready in San Diego, and I hope for more good changes to come.

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