Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Overprotection - part 2

Yes, it is a different world today than 20-30 years ago. There is even a song out about it now called Different World. But, why is it so different? Does different mean more dangerous? Have we redefined danger? For example: not wearing a helmet while riding a bike casually down the bike path is dangerous. Well, hasn't that always been dangerous? Then why only recently has it become such a big deal? Media coverage of an accident? Advocacy groups looking for a cause? Our increasing litigious nature as a nation?

I don't know if I am right or wrong, but here is a thought. Most people would agree that more children today are injured while riding their bike than 20 years ago. And that more children today are harmed by evil adults than 20 years ago, kidnapped, molested, etc... It is probably within reason to believe that every event you can think of happens to more children today than 20 years ago. Why you might ask? With the population growing somewhat exponentially there are a lot more children today than 20 years ago. That means more children riding their bikes, more children playing in the neighborhood park, more children sticking things into light sockets. So, raw numbers need to be normalized. If you have 10 big dogs, you are more likely to have a dog with hip displaysa than when you only had 2 big dogs. Does that mean the disease is more common now? Planes crash in a horrific tragedy of fire, debris, mass causality. The newspaper headlines and evening news jump all over it, speculate about causes, federal agencies investigate. The words, the pictures are enough to scare many people into never setting foot on an airplane. But it still doesn't change the fact that you are more likely to be killed driving down the highway than riding on an airplane.

While statistics are one thing, they still lack one important element. That is having some control over the situation. While traveling on a crashing jet, you are but a bystander. The events will unfold without any influence from you. But, while driving, you have control. If alert, you can anticipate the situation that is developing and take preventative action. If capable, you can even react to unanticipated situations. But of course if you absolutely want to avoid these disasters, the best bet is to never drive and never fly. But then that is just ridiculous, right? So where do you draw the line? It is easy to make decisions, and take risks for myself. I will drive in deep snow, I will operate power tools much to the dismay of my finger, and I will cross busy streets between intersections. But how do you change when those decisions not only affect you, but someone else? Obviously you don't cross a busy street between intersections while pushing a stroller. But then again you don't stop driving during rush hour or holidays notoriously celebrated by drinking either.

Here's my hypothesis. The number of dangerous incidents involving children has increased, but not as fast as the number of children has increased. As a result, the number of incidences has increased, but the chance of a child being involved in one of these incidents has actually decreased from what it was 20 years ago. Further, I propose that mass nationwide media coverage, and shows such as the Date.line specials, has only heightened awareness (a good thing) and fear (a bad thing) of what has been silently happening unbeknown to much of the population 20 years ago. Has anyone actually done this research?

1 comment:

Val said...

Well, I just read these posts on being protective so I thought I'd share my opinion. Having a 7 month old daughter, I am protective as well. But it's over certain things that I can control in order to "protect" my child. If a toy falls on the nasty ground outside, do I wipe it off? Of course...I can control that. If she swallows dirty bath water or ingests the most likely pee-flavored water at the YMCA, do I scold her for drinking it? Of course not...she's a kid. She's just playing and learning. You just have to pick and choose the important things that you can still control somewhat. You certainly can't hide your child from the world, but you can play a large part in being their protector or parent without sheltering them too much. Let them play over at a friend's house, but make sure you know the parents and their parenting philosophies. Let them walk to school but make sure they know how strongly you feel about the rules and help them understand what makes them more safe. Maybe you shouldn't watch everyone word your child types on a computer chat, but you should step in the room enough times to let them know that you pay attention to their actions. Sure there are scary sexual predators in neighborhoods to worry about, but what about the ones you don't know about??? That's worse. Could be a playmate's parent. You just never know. We called the police 3 weeks ago for a noise complaint because the adjacent neighbors had roughly ten 6 year olds running outside at midnight screaming during their slumber party. My husband walked over and there were 2 kids playing ping pong in the garage with the door wide open and no adults in site. This I'm sure was described as a "supervised" party to the attendee's parents. On another note, I am firmly against anyone who has the "we did that when we were kids and we turned out just fine" attitude. I think it's naive. Things change and people are more aware now for the better. For example, our parents slept on their stomachs and they turned out fine. However, that doesn't mean that SIDS being reduced by over 50% by sleeping on backs now should be ignored. I think you need to be cautious but still let kids explore. Your only job is to protect them and earn their trust. If that is established, then I believe your children will feel protected, trust your judgement, and make those smarter or safer choices a strong majority of the time. Overall, everyone is scared for their child, whether it took them one attempt at conception (like us) or multiple attempts (like you and Jenn). Being scared makes you want to never let go, but you just have to sometimes. However, you need to be the smart ones and choose those "sometimes" appropriately. I hoped that helped without being too bold or insulting in anyway.