I grew up in a relatively high crime area but still walked to school and sometimes took public transport. The only thing that made it somewhat unsafe was the bullying by other school kids. Of course there is an overlap there as yesterday's bullies are tomorrow's criminals, but still it wasn't enough to have parents escort me. Sometimes strangers intervened to save me from a few attacks by groups of older kids. So maybe there is an element there as well of people not minding asking kids what's happening, why are they pushing this one kid to the ground.
Now living in US in a much safer area I would think very well before sending my kids to school by themselves at the age when I was going to school by myself. The reason is neighbors who could report me to the police for "child endangerment or neglect". It happened to a co-worker. One of the neighbors reported them to the police while kids were playing out in the front by themselves. It issue was resolved but not without embarrassing calls to work and home visits.
So, the obvious first step to fixing this problem in the U.S. would be to make it explicitly legal.
Something like "letting children unsupervised in public space for less than 5 hours shall not, by itself, be construed as child abuse or neglect."
Plausible? Any downsides?
Can any town do it by itself, or is an act of Congress needed?
We need a reasonable threshold below which we do not worry about an event. Figuratively speaking: "If it makes front page news, it's not how I'm gonna die."
The threshold is going to vary from person to person; for me? if it's less likely than me dying or becoming disabled in a transport accident today, then the effort to prevent that thing is most likely better spent preventing transport accidents.
I mean, my point here is that you want the best return possible on your "prevent bad things from happening to me and mine" efforts, and there are a lot of low-hanging fruit that you can grab in the area where there is the most danger. Transportation and health are huge killers, much bigger than terrorist and crazies.
I think this might be the biggest problem with America today; this idea that systemic action needs to be taken for a 1 in 100 million chance seems like the systemic problem with our society. Systemic action should be reserved for things that happen frequently.
Even in America, the biggest danger to children is transport accidents; the chances of getting killed or disfigured are so much higher in a car than in a train that it almost certainly makes up for any "stranger danger" on the train.
The problem here is not the law, it is the people who think the fact that one person (out of over 100 million families in America) got arrested for doing a thing that sounds reasonable is a reason to change your behavior.
I'm not saying your arguments are bad. In fact, they are on point. But perceived danger vs Actual danger is, from looking at the whole anti-vaccer movement, the big contributor here. But if parents are getting put in handcuffs for having their kids play outside then yeah, they need to be protected from a systemic standpoint.
Every day when you strap your kid into your car seat, you are rolling those dice, at odds considerably worse than 1 in 100 million.
You can't face risk by saying "we need to stamp it out, no matter how small the chance or how great the cost" It doesn't help me if you protect me from meteors if I'm millions of times more likely to be killed by a traffic accident, and the same resources could drastically reduce the chance of that death.
You need to look at what resources you are willing to spend on risk mitigation, and then look at where you can spend those resources to most effectively mitigate risk.
In this case if one chose to manage the risk, the mitigation would require (one possibility) enshrining something in law, so that parents of these kids DON'T get prosecuted. That's a one-off, and possibly no more expensive than the cost of a single prosecution/incident.
Given that, doesn't it make sense to do this, making it just go away, and giving people that peace of mind? Regardless of the low probability? Cost is clearly less than protecting a populace against meteors.
Further, these bad outcomes are not evenly distributed so a farmer in Iowa has a very different risk profile.
The problem isn't that you're going to go to jail, it's that once you're on the radar of a state agency, it's scary, and you end up in the position to prove that your home and family are safe for your kids. It's embarrassing and deliberately intimidating, and you ultimately have no power to stop at least a small disruption in your kids' lives.
I submit that learning how to evaluate these sorts of statistics, and this sort of risk management is an important part of the basic education that is essential to all citizens of a democracy.
And nobody has brought it up, but it's possible that the average person just thinks that a child being kidnapped by a stranger is an outcome that is thousands of times worse than that same child dying or being mutilated for life in a transportation accident. In that case, maybe society isn't acting irrationally; they just place a lot more value on 'manner of death' than I do.
In could be true, but another plausible alternative is that it's rare to get in trouble that way because no one is letting their kids unsupervised in the streets.
An analogy: death by actively jumping off a plane without a parachute, if it exists, is extremely rare. Doesn't make it safe.
Anything above 5 hours might then automatically be seen as neglect.
Other than that, it's just full of tourists from other parts of the US and abroad, mostly families. Can't see any real risks to children there now that the vehicles are gone.
It seriously pisses me off that people think the law and rulings made by judges and juries are absurd without knowing anything about the cases or rulings in question. It seriously smacks of arrogance, because these people are your peers, so you are implicitly claiming that you are smarter than all of them. I assure you, that's probably not the case, and in that same situation, you probably would have reached the same conclusion.
There are always exceptions, but check your facts before assuming you're less of an idiot than others.
I.e. there might be a million cases where justice (correctly) deemed absurd to prosecute a parent for letting the kids play outside. But they'll never make the news.
It might piss you off, but there's a point to these stories. Italian's say "se non e vero, e ben trovato" (Even if it is not true, it is a good story).
This is not about it being an entertaining story -- it's about it expressing a real fault in the legal system and its attitude, despite doing it using a non-factual case.
In other words, the US legal system might not have THAT law, but the story remains true in a deeper level, in the sense that it is indeed the kind of system were such a law could be conceived or be remotely possible.
If you want to point out an actual flaw instead of a non-factual/non-existent flaw, then use facts not fables.
> In other words, the US legal system might not have THAT law, but the story remains true in a deeper level, in the sense that it is indeed the kind of system were such a law could be conceived or be remotely possible
Except you would need a factual argument to demonstrate this possibility. Your arguments so far do not qualify. The fact that you can imagine this possibility entails facts about you and your understanding of law, and does not entail anything about the law itself.
If I want it, then yes, I'll take that advice in mind.
My concern is not what I want though, but what happens in real life, how some things can be more complicated than the naive first order view (factually false = useless), and how some narratives (both good and bad) are transmitted in society through such methods.
Facts are pertinent to real life. Fiction is not.
> how some things can be more complicated than the naive first order view (factually false = useless)
1. Facts are not first order, but applicable at arbitrarily higher orders as well.
2. Factually false claims aren't useless, they quite clearly identify the biases of the people who perpetuate them.
Do you have anything that can be considered an argument?
Because my point, that a story doesn't have to be factually correct to still be indicative of a larger truth (and vise versa: a factually correct story might just be an outlier that doesn't prove anything universal of what it suggests) has been known since time immemorial.
At the moment, American Politics is all F'd up because Mr. Trump and his Press Team (led by Huckabee Sanders at the moment) relies on this.
They plant false ideas like "The Crowd Size at the last rally was huge" into the American Public's mind, and then MAKE UP the larger truth in such a way that most benefits them.
False stories are the bread-and-butter of Mr. Trump's press strategy right now.
I really doubt that they rely on non-true but otherwise representative of the truth stories.
For one, they'll never admit those stories are not factually true.
And even if they did so, those stories would still have to be representative of a larger truth, which they're not.
So, no, false stories as pure lies are not the same as what I was talking about. We had those since the beginning of time too.
The latter case is the problem, and currently a large one.
I was pointing out that your translated quote might not resonate as you intend, today.
Sara(h) Huckabee Sanders used similar logic to defend the posting of known-false videos as evidence to support the policies and proclamations of her boss.
You can argue that some concepts require extrapolation to be persuasive. We're dealing with a lot of abuse of that right now, and I don't think it works here.
Re: the luxury of non-Americans to be unfamiliar with the absurdity represented by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, all I can say is "enjoy it!" ... but do take warning: these things have a way of propagating. :(
If something exists, it is useful in some way and to some people (useful being different than "doing good work") -- or, to be it better, it has some rational explanation for existing. If something is popular, it means even more so, that it serves some kind of purpose.
Now, sure one can have a knee-jerk a priori reaction that something true is always better than something false.
Is it so though?
As a utilitarian I prefer to see the effects (and not just the first order effects).
Instead of taking an "it's evil/bad/don't wanna know about it" moral stance, I prefer an investigative stance. What does such stories exist and what role to they serve? Could it even be a positive role? I don't feel there's anything "mind boggling" to asking those questions.
To get to the point, I believe that:
1) A factually untrue story could contain (and encapsulate nicely in story form) a larger truth about a situation. Most people will easily accept it for art, literature, movies, parables, etc ("this story is fictional, but it expresses what goes on very accurately"). Well, the same thing can happen with an untrue new story that people believe is true.
That (happening) depends more on the content of the story, not to whether it was promoted as art or as news. If a movie gives a very true to life picture of 50s racism, then it still gives that whether someone believes it a fictional hollywood story or mistakenly believes it to be based on true facts. So what would be the real difference to the latter case if it was an untrue news story being misperceived as true?
2) Conversely, a true story could be an outlier, used out of context, promoted for more that it amounts to, and thus serve to lie about a situation.
A true news story about a kind slave owner in the 1840s South would be less true in conveying the horror of what was going on at the time than a made-up story about a person that beat and raped their slaves.
Representativeness matters more than mere accuracy. That's why people, and especially politicians and advertisers, are able to mislead with otherwise real statistics and facts all the time.
And that's how a work of art can be truer than some straight-to-the-fact reported news story.
So, two ways my approach is not "mind boggling" is to look at it from a utilitarian perspective, and to look at it from a representativeness perspective.
As for the final question: "presenting false stories as true? How is that useful?".
First of all, I was not talking about consciously presenting them (e.g. knowing that they are not).
What I said is that such stories as they circulate can still capture a larger truth, and thus be beneficial to the cause of truth, even if untrue themselves. In other words, modern cultures still can make their myths and believe in them, and some of those (based on their representativeness and content) can be huge forces for change and progress. It's hardly the most difficult or first paradox in how societies function.
E.g. imagine a made-up news story about a very racist cop towards some immigrant family. This circulates widely (because its powerful) and ends up causing mass protests, and affecting real change.
Wouldn't that be a case where a false story being presented as true became useful? History is full of such examples.
(A false story presented as true could also, or even more possibly, be harmful. Hence what I said about representativeness being necessary. I didn't say "false news stories are great we should have more of them". I said that they can potentially do good.).
However, there is a difference between stories that are simply imprecise and stories that are fabricated. Similarly, there are differences between stories created to convey emotions, and stories that are fabricated to encite emotional responses.
Probably easier if I just said that I can understand the value of fiction. However, it is best presented as such. False narratives are not fiction if presented as true. Specifically, the story that prompted this thread is one where it only has value if it is a true narrative. Otherwise, might as well have a story about how a corporation convinced a susceptible population that they should dry their animals off in a microwave that was the size of a person. Because... stories that purport to originate from real events don't have to be true. Right?
Only if the false story was actually representative of some underlying truth, despite the specific details being untrue. You keep presenting your original post as representing some underlying truth, despite the specifics being untrue.
I think I clearly stated in my first reply that not only were the specifics untrue, but your underlying premise was also completely false despite having being commonly accepted. And this is where actual facts are needed to discern the actual truth, so make your case.
Well, if the underlying truth is: "the US has a crazily invasive legal system and is too litigicious", then I think the (untrue) story conveys that well.
Except you haven't established that underlying truth to begin with, hence why false stories are just hurting your case. In fact, I'd even say that truth is probably false.
False narratives like this move people from reasonable open mindedness to closed viewpoints. They do not help.
We live in WA and our 9 year old daughter walks back from the school bus stop alone everyday, then stays alone at home for 3-4 hours until we come back from work (we let her because we deem her mature enough for that, before age 9 she went to an after school program). A few of our neighbors and even the building management people know about it, and don’t seem to take issue with it. The building administrator actually said something like “ooh she’s a big girl now! :)” when we requested an extra key for our daughter.
So there’s that, and also that every CPS story I’ve heard or read on the news seems to have happened in the Midwest or the East Coast.
I wish I understood why. Perhaps it is economics related? I should research this more because it would be interesting to understand.
Do you have a source on this? I could see there being perhaps some correlation, but it's far from an obvious fact to me that bullies just turn out to become criminals. Most of the bullies I'm aware of from school simply grew out of it as they got older and were never at risk of not becoming productive members of society, they just developed more empathy and/or became less mean. I'd be curious to know if someone's run a longitudinal study to measure correlation between bullying at younger ages and violent criminality at older ages.
I walked to kindergarden by my own when I was 4 or something and after that was never accompanied by my parents again.
In a place where the law is clearly defined, you're correct, that wouldn't help. However, when the law is vague, a documented conversation like that is definitely good evidence that one was acting reasonably.
In the same reasoning, that's why a judge can have a jury
I would also report neglectment if children are still on their own after this. Done by one whose job is to protect the children, no less.
Criminals can act anywhere and at any time. It's not a good enough reason to hurt your Childs development.
Not only was I never harmed whilst traveling to/from school (except for one time when I fell off my bike while riding to school when I was 6 or 7 years old in Venezuela and I had to get stitches on my knee—I've still got the scar to prove it), but today I live mostly without fear and don't subscribe to most of the BS that fear-driven people do. Depending on how you look at it, I seem to have turned out fine. I also spent most of my childhood playing outside eating dirt, and go figure, I have no allergies or immune problems.
American parents today who coddle their children are robbing them of learning and growth experiences they deserve. Experiences which, in my opinion, would help make them better people. More tolerant, more empathetic, more intelligent, and healthier.
As a parent, you're often forced to weigh a high probability of nothing bad happening vs. a very small probability of something terrible happening. But putting your kids on a bus or dropping them off at school isn't likely to scar them for life.
I guess in my family the thought is: Listen, 99% of the time everything will be mostly okay, but that 1 time when your kid gets abducted or ran over is that 1 time when it doesn't matter how safe the other 99 times were.
Also in New York I can't count the number of times drivers almost hit me, or hit my friends while 100% in the wrong. The drivers here are insane.
Getting hit by a car is a real risk worth accounting for. Getting abducted on the way to school isn't.
I’m not so sure about that. I live in an affluent part of WA where there’s close to zero crime. A couple times a year we get emails from the school district with descriptions of cars and people that approached kids on their way to or the school, trying to get the kids into their cars. An actual abduction has never occurred in the 5 years that I’ve lived here, but clearly there are attempts.
I don't remember being Molly cuddled like today's kids and I'm in my late 30s (UK).
Molly cuddling does sound cuter, though.
> 99% of the time everything will be okay
I took this as meaning that 99/100 trips are without incident. I then assumed that a kid might take a trip every day. The probability of taking consecutive 365.25 trips without accident are then 0.99^365.25 (odds of surviving the first trip times odds of surviving the second trip and so on...). This works out to 0.025, or 2.5%.
So, what I calculated is the probability that a kid will avoid accident in a year, given that only 99/100 days are without accident.
The takeaway is that a kids chances of getting abducted on a given day are much, much smaller than 1%.
I feel very safe here walking at all hours of the day and night. In fact everyone feels safe here. Women can walk home any time of day and feel safe. Children and young adults as well. In my time here, and I stick out being white, nobody has tried to do any harm to me or anything related.
I am starting to think that the almost getting hit is a product of being to busy and always in a hurry. I am walking about 5 miles each day. The cars here are also insane, worse than NYC (I live close to NYC). The culture here is to hurry , get something done faster, everyone is always to busy and wants to speed up. I have almost been hit a number of times while crossing the street. Here it is cars first, then motorbikes, then people.
I think a lot of the conflict arises from the fact that legally pedestrians have the right of way but in practice it's cars first and stay outta my way.
As the newish father of a baby, I really worry that my son won’t be able to experience that unless we move to China or some other country. Heck, it’s even better today since you can send them out with a cellphone.
Japan and Korea have highly homogeneous on the confucius spectrum....I believe this uniting values is what allowed people to stay in lanes so to speak..... Honestly, I think it will be a long time before these countries open up their doors to "outsiders". Italian Koreans or French Japanese? I'm disgressing but I'd argue in those European countries you probably won't see kids walking to school alone and for strong safety reasons.
Still, even in conservative places like Korea, liberal changes like those seen in American societies of the 70s mixed with credit fueled bubble frenzy of the late 1980s have begun to appear.
Anyways these are just my crazy theories, like seeing the parallel rise of GDP & scantily clad women in mainstream TV in 1980s (focus on legs) Japan, similar to S. Korea's hyper-sexual K-pop movement (once again legs are in) similar to America's craze for legs during the 80s, 90s. Now it's all about big butts, an economic indicator a new bull run?
Anyways, I don't know how I arrived at this subject but I'm always fascinated by America 70 years ago especially when described from older HN users vs today, and it's echoing impact on the world.
I don't know for sure about Italy or France (though I'd be very surprised if they were not basically the same), but in Germany, I walked to school alone starting in first grade, and from fourth grade onwards I in fact had a 40min public transport commute to the neighbouring city that involved several interchanges; from what I can tell, this was normal at least from fifth grade onwards (since you choose secondary schools fairly carefully based on subject specialisation). Also, as far as I can tell, very little changed about this even in the face of recent paranoia about refugees.
That being said, it probably helps when you live somewhere with no significant crime. I dunno if my parents would have allowed that if we didn't move away from Scarborough (Toronto suburb with some crime issues at the time)
I'm sure that helps put parents at ease, but I think even hardened criminals are very unlikely to randomly attack children. Aside from the fact that most criminals still have some level of humanity, there's not much to gain from it.
Other kids are much more likely to mistreat kids than adult criminals, but kids find ways to do that even in relatively supervised situations.
Shared respect and responsibility comes naturally to minimize shame, a negative social credit. Self-shaming rises out of being mindful of one's actions and words. Also helps if you are a Buddhist country.
The results are remarkable. For instance you can leave keys in your car, pass out from drinking on the streets with wallet bulging with cash and almost no Korean or Japanese person would think of even touching it. Note that this does not mean theft is absent in these countries but I do note that even criminals seem to be regular citizens, blending in as much as possible unlike street gangs you see in North America that advertises it openly.
Confucianism was designed from ground up to bring peace and stability in societies during time of extreme political and military upheaval and Chosun dynasty (Korea's longest ruling political power) embraced it and promoted heavily.
It's not without problems tho. Speaking as Korean.
And a Yakuza crime syndicate so feared that cartoons don't show 4-fingered characters?
They just did it, were investigated, came out in the clear, and then set precedent that allowed others to do it as well.
Did you miss the part where they won and CPS released a statement that the cops overreacted? What more American thing is there than repeatedly disobeying wrong instructions from the government?
Their kids learned that in America if you didn't do anything wrong you can challenge The System and win. Seems like a lesson worth teaching to me!
( In Germany - Jugendamt, though I find Germans are surprisingly good with allowing the children autonomy they need. Getting a call from Jugendamt however is really really scary. It's quite awful how these agencies are used as a blunt baton against the very families they are supposed(?) to protect and help.)
of course....my view will never fully reflect the realities of an average German living in Germany....I'm basing it off on that BBC show anyhow so I expect to be wrong in many areas....
but I still admire the German system as described, not sure how well it's implemented....
Me too, except that I have severe asthma and am allergic to all sorts of organic things.
Your anecdote is not data.
One of the big problems is the lack of public transport in the US. Even with cities with good transit, the minimum age for kids on buses/trains is usually 12 (wasn't there an article on HN earlier about a New York man who's kids rode the bus in a group of three and how social services said he couldn't do that any more until one of them turned 13? I can't seem to find it now..)
Crime is more perception then a real issue. You're always most likely to be a victim of a crime by a family member at home. Actual child abductions are more hollywood and rarely real life. When it does happens, it's usually someone who knows the child via family.
I feel like this is yet another problem that could be solved via real transit and which will just be made worse by self-driving cars.
"the Ministry had [...] determined that children under 10 years old could not be unsupervised in or outside the home, for any amount of time." -- even myself, growing up, we were a bunch of kids who all lived in a cul-de-sac. I don't think our parents saw much of us from the age of six onwards or so, at least not during the summer months, except for the meals.
Certainly, it would be pretty ridiculous in general if it were. That would have been a problem with my going off to college :-)
Leaving child unattended
(3) No person having charge of a child less than sixteen years of age shall leave the child without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.
Having read through a bunch of this stuff to find the law in question, things actually look pretty reasonable. If there's a problem, it seems it would be with the application or interpretation of the law by the bureaucracy or the courts. Legislation can correct those things, but I guess my point is that it looks reasonable, so there's no obvious easy fix.
"that is reasonable in the circumstances" may be ambiguous and in the eye of the beholder. But it certainly suggests that a normal 16 year old doesn't need to be automatically under constant adult supervision at all times.
ADDED: This may or may not be the correct reading, but I take that as saying you can't kick your 15 year old out of the house and tell them you're on your own.
As far as I'm aware the biggest dangers to children are their cohabitating relatives followed closely by non-resident family and friends.
The solution to this issue for me was to move away from the big city I was in to a much smaller one, where the kids next door and a few houses down play in the street and my neighbors talk to me.
Or getting hit by a car. Driven by a stranger or otherwise.
Based on my anecdotal experience, prevalence of car culture seems to influence whether kids can roam quite a lot.
A lot of places in the US people are wary of adult pedestrians. They see someone walking and assume something is wrong--a car broke down, or the pedestrian is somehow up to no good. If people have the attitude that walking is weird and a cause for alarm, they won't want their kids doing it.
Plus, in lots of suburban areas, there's nowhere for kids to walk to. Wooded areas, if they exist, generally belong to somebody who doesn't want strangers messing around on their land. If there are Main Street shops, that could work, but a lot of Main Streets now are either pawn shops and check cashing outlets or high end restaurants and boutiques, with nothing really there for kids. And it seems less pleasant to send kids to a corporate store like CVS than to a mom and pop business.
I also think there are fewer kids in lots of suburban neighborhoods than there used to be, with family sizes shrinking and fewer retirees leaving the neighborhoods where they raised their kids. And kids seem to form cliques around interests earlier and earlier, which means their friends could be halfway across town. Adults don't automatically hang out with their neighbors much anymore, and neither do kids.
Cars are my biggest fear when the kids go outside alone. Soon the oldest will begin school and I want her to go by her self, but the amount of cars on the road is scary. Especially around the school it's mayhem caused by parents driving their kids 400 meters to school.
Where I live everyone goes to school in their area. Dense population means kids can walk or at the most cycle to school. At least in primary.
Playgrounds always had more parents hovering than kids playing.
My son at 11 took the BART to and from school from Berkeley/Oakland to El Cerito, other parents were horrified - we moved back to NZ a couple of years later, handed both kids a bus timetable and a phone and sent them off to town to explore.
One of our main goals as a parent is to create independent kids who can function alone in the world - we don't want them still living in the basement at 30
Thank you. I can never understand how often this aspect is completely ignored when debating what is or isn't safe for a child to do unsupervised. How is a child ever supposed to mature if they have no opportunity to develop? Of course as a parent you have a responsibility to introduce your child to new ideas and behaviours at reasonable times when they are able to cope with them, but if you just wrap them in a cocoon forever and never let them see the real world, how can they possibly learn to look after themselves and integrate into our wider society as adults?
FYI this is a cultural thing. Not every culture's parents kicks out their children when they turn 18. So if it doesn't work out this way for whatever reason, don't view it as right or wrong unless you feel it's wrong to go against the culture (which also isn't inherently wrong either).
EDIT: The expectation of independence at 18 is not just between parents and the kid, but sometimes the kid's older SO, or society, or some other people who constantly repeat "once you're 18 you can do what you want", except they have no idea how to do it responsibly.
From the comments there it seems that it's not about (perceived) risks at all, it's more about peer pressure. If no other parents in your group would let their kids go about on their own, you surely won't want to be the only one.
We underestimate children's ability to navigate, which is silly because if they were really bad at it our species would have died out long ago.
Anyway it was like herding sheep to get them anywhere. In the rush to get them onboard a train where we taking them back to their hotel from a shopping trip... well... I kinda left my youngest on the platform.
You won't even have to look at their dirty, disgusting faces, just count them like cattle.
In a large city like NYC, neon-green would stands out very nicely.
Unfortunately I could not find any summary articles (except in Finnish). The charts summarizing the results seem to start on the report page 14.
The same parents that were okay with me going to kindergarten by myself and sometimes cooking partial meals alone, now are horrified that such things happened (with their consent).
I think it speaks a lot to how much society has changed, their current mindset would not accept the same behavior they themselves had a few decades ago.
I remember being stopped by strangers asking "where are you going? School? Ok, watch out when crossing the streets". Nowadays nobody would intervene directly... They would probably call the police and take me into custody.
"Practical Wisdom" (Barry Schwartz) is a good book about this.
In many countries in Asia, kids with parents can just go to a restaurant (for example) and let the kids roam - everyone else (waiters, other patrons) will take care of the kids collectively.
 - http://www.shpol.ch/fileadmin/Redaktoren/Bilder/Verkehrsinst...
I do remember it was more for 2nd/3rd grade though.
In Germany, public transport would be considered even somewhat safer than cycling (which has its risks, even with bicycle paths etc.), I'd think.
I personally think it's related to culture. How the community like to make kids mature earlier.
I've also lived in Tanzania where communism had made in the 90s, pupils not pay public transportation. So even little kids were riding buses.
I think the main reason is that public transit is magnitudes better and more widespread here, than in the US.
In big cities, like Warsaw there actually aren't any, as schools are usually within walking distance, and if they aren't then the normal public transport is supposed to fill in.
(Worth noting for others that children start "proper" school at 7 in Finland. Something that surprised me when I moved here.)
(I'd guess kids use a kick-sled, though, instead of just walking.)
You might like this article about what we do in Germany: https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-kindergarten-campouts-te...
My sister talked to a playground designer in Germany once.
He explained that they deliberately make the toys slightly dangerous -- if you fell off a structure, you wouldn't need to go to hospital, but it would hurt enough to teach a lesson.
They explicitly want to school kids' sense of risk, and at the same time, self-reliance. And offer a sense of achievement if you dare and master, say, a "dangerous" climb.
The level of parental paranoia and of cultural concern has skyrocketed. We're so concerned about actual neglectful parenting and so paranoid about infinitesimally low-probability events that we are afraid to give our children what would once have been considered age-appropriate levels of autonomy and responsibility; and parents who do attempt to are under threat from a safety net originally intended to prevent qualitatively different behaviors.
- Stories of overzealous Child Protection Services agents, child neglect and abuse laws being used to punish parents.
- Stories of neighbors, teachers, and other overly concerned people, sometimes with malicious intent calling CPS.
- Stories of lawsuits because children trespassed, caused noise in the neighborhood.
- Stories of child rapists and serial murderers.
When you live in an litigious, social-media and 24-hour news addicted society, some of the side-effects are ugly. Even if a parent wants to raise their children like "when I grew up", it is very difficult not to get either swept up or cut out.
I remember growing up in the 80's I could bus/walk all around town and do whatever as long as I got back by night or called.
Remember, none of those cheating cell phones!
I simply cannot see myself raising children in the US. Just like my parents gave up everything to bring me here, I will give up everything to bring them to a society that respects them, where they have the opportunity to grow into adults without them or me getting arrested for being independent human beings. The way we treat children in the US at the moment is sick, disgusting, and simply unacceptable to me. Children are human beings too.
No subways of course, but small children will walk to the store or school unaccompanied all the time.
I live in South Africa now where it's probably not a great idea.
Normal thing here in Russia. Why would 9-10 year old need a guardian on his way to school anyways? Same for some shopping.
"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
I was in Berlin last week and was amazed to see bikes being locked to bollards on the street only waist high, so you only had to lift it a foot if you wanted to steal it.
Which is exactly what happens.
Traveling long distances by commuter train and then switching to bus is not uncommon for kids ages 11 and up.
And getting groceries (from the corner or kirana store) wasn't even considered "going out alone". Everyone did that as soon as we learnt to properly count money. Mostly even before that, since the kirana stores could be trusted not to give incorrect change and steal from a kid. I'd have a list of items from my parents, hand it over to the storekeeper with the money, and he'd give me the stuff in a bag along with the change.
There's another interesting story from when I was 4/5. I wanted a new toy and refused to sleep until my parents agreed to buy it for me the next day. They kept refusing so I threatened my parents that I'd run away from home if they didn't buy it for me. Their response was to simply tell me that I could runaway if I wanted, but I wasn't getting that toy (and remember, I'd been throwing this tantrum past bedtime, sonit was about 10/11 at night). I packed a little bag with some toys and clothes and left home. My parents idea of keeping me safe at this time was to ask my 6/7 year old brother to secretly follow me, which he did, but I had no idea about. Getting back to me, I left my apartment, walked out to the main road, walked for a bit, didn't know where to go, so I caught a bus and went to my grandparents house. They were quite happy to get a surprise visit from me. Though I asked them not to tell my parents I was there (I was 5, but didn't want my parents to think I was an idiot) they called my parents and let them know I would be staying over at their place. The next day I found out my brother had caught a cab and followed the bus, saw I went to my grandparents place and returned home in that same cab.
Lastly, in India, every public transport service, offers a half price ticket for children. Even if travelling alone. Also, kids studying in government schools, get a card which allows them to travel from home to school by bus/train for free. It's actually very common to see kids traveling via public transport alone. In trains and buses it's also quite common to offer or see others offering their seats to small kids that can't reach the over head handles while standing.
But the most trust into their kids I saw amongst Africans.
A little clause set between commas in a missive from a reader about a recent column ["Hero vs. Superhero," July 25] -- in that piece I wondered about the effect of today's movie superheroes on little children as opposed to what children saw, say, in John Ford's 1956 The Searchers. The reader was intelligently critical of the piece, but in that clause he doubted that many 7-year-olds ever went to movies like The Searchers. A natural mistake -- he was clearly too young to remember, and how else would he know? But, for me, his error brought back a lost world.
In today's America, where parents chauffeur kids to "play dates," only on the poorest streets do 7-year-olds still roam free ... but they don't go to movies much because tickets are so pricey ... the concession stand is even more expensive ... and you can't just walk into any movie (it might not be rated for kids) ... and you have to know the exact time a film starts ... and shopping-mall movie theatres are rarely within walking distance. Today you're blitzed by TV ad campaigns and product tie-ins in fast-food joints, so you know all about a Hollywood film before it starts ... and today's urban parents panic if their grade-school children disappear, unaccounted for, for hours on end.
Fifty years ago, none of that was so. In the larger cities, two or three movie theatres were in walking distance of most neighborhoods. Each had but one screen. The program began with a newsreel, a few cartoons, and brief "coming attractions" (not today's compilations that tell the whole story). Then the "features" began -- plural, features, for all neighborhood theatres played double, sometimes triple, features, two or three movies for the price of one ticket. Nothing was rated, there were no sex scenes or obscenities; anyone could go to any movie. Admission price for a kid was rarely more than a quarter. Popcorn for a dime, a Coke for a nickel. They weren't supposed to sell kids tickets during school hours, but they did. As for kids roaming about -- "Go play in traffic," our parents would say, and they wouldn't be surprised if we didn't walk in 'til dinnertime, which in our immigrant neighborhood wasn't until after 7.
("Go play in traffic" wasn't so harsh a phrase as it sounds. Where else could we play?)
And you didn't go to a movie, you went to "the movies." You rarely knew the title of the film you were going to see until you saw the marquee -- and even then you might not recognize the title. Big productions were advertised on billboards, but there weren't so many billboards. No ads on the sides of buses, and none in supermarkets (and there weren't that many supermarkets). Second features were never advertised. TV ads for movies? Very rare in the early Fifties, and not so common by the end of the decade. Except for Davy Crockett's "coonskin" hats (and that was for television), massive product tie-ins were decades away. So adults and kids alike went to the movies, to see whatever was playing -- especially during the hot months, because in those days the big pull was to go to "an air-conditioned movie," as the phrase went. Into the early Sixties, movie theatres were among the only air-conditioned public buildings, and nothing was more rare for working-class people (on the East Coast anyway) than an air-conditioned residence. (I didn't live in one until I was 29.)
And there was this, a fact that can't be overestimated: Almost all movies (with Disney the major exception) were made for adults. Kids went to the movies, but few movies were calibrated for kids. Yet no ticket-seller I ever encountered thought it strange for a 7-year-old alone, or a group of three or four, to show up. I went every time I could scrounge the change, and I don't remember ever being turned away.
My birthday is late in October, so I was still 7 in 1953 when I saw my first film without "parental guidance" -- or parental presence. Frankly, it kind of shocks me to write that, for I can't imagine the parents of 7-year-olds today allowing their children to go to the movies alone. In fact, I doubt a lone 7-year-old would be sold a ticket now anywhere in this country. But once upon a time, it was no big deal. (All of which makes urban parents of 50 years ago sound permissive. They weren't. We would never have dreamed of speaking to our parents, or to any adult, as I now hear so many minutely supervised kids speak to theirs. Disrespect was not tolerated. Neither was whining. I know that sounds like an exaggeration. It's not.)
So, at the age of 7, three or four other urchins and I saw Vincent Price in House of Wax -- in 3-D, no less. It was deliciously scary in a harmless sort of way. But that same year I felt true horror at seeing (alone) The Robe; the Jesus I prayed to -- I watched him be crucified, watched the nails entering his hands, and it was among the more shattering experiences of my little life. And then, a different kind of shattering, that same year: The War of the Worlds -- the scene where the crazed mob throws the scientists out of their truck, destroys their work, and so (seemingly) ends all hope that mankind might survive the martian invasion. When later I became an obsessive reader of history, I had occasion to think of that scene many times.
In the spring of the next year, when I was 8, my 6-year-old cousin Tony and I "went to the movies," and what was playing was what I now know to be one of the rarest films by a major director and major star: William Wellman's The High and the Mighty, my first John Wayne film. Tony and I sat through it twice -- that is, we sat through The High and the Mighty, a second feature that I've forgotten, and The High and the Mighty again. For in those days once you bought a ticket you could sit there till the theatre closed. Also, since you just "went," you almost always walked in the middle of whatever picture it was, stayed through the second feature, and watched the first feature until the scene you walked in on. That's the origin of the saying, "This is where I came in" -- people would often leave at that point, with those words on their lips. Not me. I always stayed 'til the end, even if I didn't like the picture. I was (and am) stubborn that way.
The High and the Mighty was about a haunted, limping co-pilot (John Wayne) who'd survived the crash that killed his wife and child. He redeems himself by managing to land a (propeller-driven) airliner that otherwise would have been destroyed. Tony and I walked out whistling the haunting theme music. We went back the next day. Which was the first time I ever went to a movie. I can still whistle that theme, but I've never seen that film again -- to my knowledge it has yet to appear on TV, VHS, or DVD. What happened to it? In any case, I kind of fell in love with John Wayne. He was the man my 8-year-old wanted to be.
Other movies I saw solo or with buddy-urchins: The Blackboard Jungle, East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause when I was 9 ... The Searchers when I was 10 ... age 11, I saw Edge of the City (the complex friendship between John Cassavetes and Sidney Poitier turned my young head around about race). Eleven, too, when I saw A Face in the Crowd and The Three Faces of Eve. Face left me absolutely stunned -- so much so that I couldn't stand to see the film again until I was well into my 40s. I know this will sound incredibly naive to a modern ear, but Face taught me that those smiling faces on TV were laughing at me. Baby, that changed me. I stopped believing a lot of things that year -- and stopped calling myself a Catholic. I didn't trust a priestly smile anymore. As for The Three Faces of Eve -- my mother had been in and out of mental hospitals, so Eve taught me more than I wanted to know, earlier than I could absorb it, and to this day I've not been able to watch it again.
All of which is to say ... there are good arguments for and against a child seeing such things, though I'm glad I did. Good arguments for and against children roaming dangerously, freely. Yes, disasters happened. You had to learn how to handle men who sat next to you and groped (that was rare, but once was plenty); I'd always grab an aisle seat, and I took to the trick of spilling Coke and popcorn on the seat next to me. But, as W.D. Snodgrass said when asked why he didn't write poems about A-bombs: "I've seen more people killed in their living rooms." It isn't much of an exaggeration to say "the movies," as an entity, raised me. It was like listening in to the conversations of the grownups. Which, we now forget, is how children have been raised for eons. So, reader, yes -- 7-year-olds did see The Searchers, in another world, and in a freer, riskier, more exciting, and inviting country.
My hunanese wife had free reign of the city since elementary school, things are not that different now.
It is a helpless feeling that emerged is the age of kidnappers, organ harvesting etc. Or has nothing really changed since then and it is just that we're exposed to massive amounts of FUD in the new era of mass media?
I live in France (I am American) and my 6 year old has walked to the store by himself and his French classmate’s parents think that’s insane. It’s a scandle when my 3 year old plays on playground equipment designed my 6 year olds. I took my kids rock climbing in Chamonix when they were 3 and 4 years old and had them properly harnessed and roped and you would have thunk I pushed them out of an airplane. Our Italian guide was having a great time while the French families were clucking disapproval between bouts of amazement.
I know plenty of UK parents in France that keep their kids on tighter leashes than even the French.
This idea that “American kids are less independent than others” is just nonsense. It’s all situational — a suburban kid might have to walk 3 miles to get to a shop or a school — that’s a much different context than some kid walking in a neighborhood where everything is a block or two away. When I am in Cupertino, I see elementary school kids riding their scooters to school unattended and when I was in Korea, there were plenty of teenagers getting picked up by their parents to walk theee blocks home.
Let’s stop generalizing so much. All of this depends on the relative safety of an area and not the nationalities involved.
It's certainly a different world now. But I have a 10-year-old, and he goes to the shops around the corner to buy milk and/or bread. There'd be no way I could trust him to make public transport decisions at this stage though. Maybe a year or two more.
What do you see as the relevant differences?
It seems to me that this is more a function of having a somewhat reliable public transport network.
When I explored Berlin myself as a kid, all I had to remember was the color of the subway and the stop
I had to get off to return home. When I got lost anywhere in the city, all I had to do was find the next subway station, look at the plan and I’d find my way.
Japans’s criminal justice system has a conviction rate in excess of 99%. Over 95% of those arrested sign confessions. The system has been attacked by organisations like Amnesty International. There is, as I understand it, a pervasive view that all crime is committed by foreigners, which contributes to pervasive xenophobia. This compounds the issues of an aging and eventually shrinking population. The high work ethic also comes with its problems, like the number of deaths from overwork, and high rates of suicide and alcoholism.
Crime in Japan is obviously low, and I’ve never felt safer anywhere in the world. But it’s too easy to just look at the surface like that; in reality, it’s complicated.
No doubt different ways of organising society come with trade-offs; and path dependent optimisation means it's not always possible to "switch" to a different local optimum.
Nevertheless, I think
* looking at how other countries do things and
* realising how contingent some domestic norms are
is rather educational and edifying.
If a woman reports to the police that her husband has raped her ever other day for a year, then is that 0 counts of rape (because marriage means permanent consent for sex), 1 count of rape (because it was reported once), or 180 counts of rape (because of each reported occurrence). (I say it was 180 counts of rape.)
Different countries have different standards. According to https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/08/voices/for... , the definition of rape in Japan excludes things rape requires violence or threats. That article goes into more about some of the differences, including low levels of reporting it.
As CityLab pointed out in the article, "The persistent problem of women and girls being groped, for example, led to the introduction of women-only cars on select lines starting in 2000."
Here's a bit of US history to show how things have changed. The TV show "Sesame Street" started in the late 1960s as a way to provide pre-school education to low-income and disadvantaged families. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sesame_Street .
One of the early clips is "Loaf of Bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im4GwUD1UY8 . In it, the mother sends her young daughter out, alone, to buy those three items from the local store.
That account takes place in New York in the 1970s, a diverse city with many immigrants. While fiction, it's meant to educate children about what they might be expected to do.
If you read books about children in NYC in the mid-1900s, you'll see that this was not uncommon. Kids, including young ones, would go on their own to Central Park, or the library, etc. Or on hot days just hop on an elevated line to enjoy the breeze.
There are other free-range parents. There may be a local group. That Let Grow site says part of it mission is to be "where parents who want to Let Grow can find others in their neighborhood".
I have no experience with the Let Grow site.
Rethoric like that could also get your case into trouble. By your logic, their monoculturalism, aversion to immigration and high work ethics created a decade of poor economic growth and deflation.
I should add that I took public transportation around Gothenburg all the time from 10 years old. Is Sweden a monocultural country with high aversion to immigration and good work ethics?
Gothenburg is larger than Malmö, but Malmö is admittedly more multicultural (about 40% are foreign born compared to Gothenburg’s 25%). However, the island of Hisingen in Gothenburg is very high up on the list of shootings per capita.
But, just for the record: yes, I’m very well aware of the conflicts and race riots during the founding of Singapore (and the fact that they were not a developed economy or deomcracy yet either) but the statement of the GP was basically ”Japan has low multiculturalism and low crime rate, thus multiculturalism causes crime”. That’s why I said that by that logic monoculturalism causes deflation and low economic growth.
> ”On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.”
> What to Submit
> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
Not sure why this is newsworthy, seems like they are just trying to stir the pot up.