Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

The Case for Free Range Parenting

The International New York Times’s Clemens Wergin takes a break from writing about foreign policy to write about something much more contentious; parenting.

Specifically, parents who safely shelter their children away from all possible danger:

Today’s parents enjoyed a completely different American childhood. Recently, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted interviews with 100 parents. “Nearly all respondents remember childhoods of nearly unlimited freedom, when they could ride bicycles and wander through woods, streets, parks, unmonitored by their parents,” writes Jeffrey Dill, one of the researchers.

But when it comes to their own children, the same respondents were terrified by the idea of giving them only a fraction of the freedom they once enjoyed. Many cited fear of abduction, even though crime rates have declined significantly. The most recent in-depth study found that, in 1999, only 115 children nationwide were victims of a “stereotypical kidnapping” by a stranger; the overwhelming majority were abducted by a family member.

That same year, 2,931 children under 15 died as passengers in car accidents. Driving children around is statistically more dangerous than letting them roam freely.

Just over a hundred kids snatched off the street. For comparison, in 2010, there were 156 kids killed by guns in their own homes. Check the math yourself in the almost unbearably grim National Violent Death Reporting System.

More kids are shot to death at home or killed in a car accident than are be kidnapped. Don’t be an innumerate parent.