Originally Posted by SeattleRain
Everyone has a sense of "it will never happen to me" when it comes to danger. You can prepare a child for "protocol" when dealing with strangers or crossing the street or whatever you want, but that doesn't mean cr@p when they forget for an instant or come across a situation they haven't been prepared for. The truth of the matter is that children DO get abducted, and they DO get molested, and they definitely DO get hurt. To deny that these happen, or that they could happen to your child, is riduculous. I think it also breeds a sense of trust in the world that is irresponsible. The world is DANGEROUS. I live in a rough neighborhood in a big city (Seattle) and I see parents who let their kids roam around the streets, sometimes as young as 4 with an older sibling who might be 8. I think that is plain foolish. Their parents have obviously set boundries as to where they can go and where they can't and who they can speak to and who they shouldn't, but it gives these kids a sense that they're safe as long as they stay in those boundries. They're not. And your kids aren't either, just because you live in a nicer neighborhood or a smaller town. Accidents can happen in a minute (ask anyone who has been in a car crash or who has pulled their child out of the way before they got in the way of a backing up car),
But see, I think this kind of thinking actually puts kids more at risk because you're training them that they're only safe with their parents. They don't learn to trust their gut. They don't learn to take small risks and the consequences of making a small mistake. A kid who's fallen off a skateboard going down a hill and realized how much it hurts, or even broken their arm, is probably not going to be a child who at 15 or 16 thinks it's a really good idea to 'surf' on top of a moving car (yes, teens do this) -- they get the concept of motion + lack of balance + speed = pain.
Now, if you live in a rough neighborhood, then clearly you can't let your children roam as freely as someone in a 'safer' neighborhood can. If there are gangs, drug deals, addicts panhandling or soliciting nearby, then no, it's not safe for your kids to be out alone or to be very far away. Part of free range parenting is knowing the environment. But I suspect that even your rough neighborhood doesn't have that much crime against children. In our neighborhood, because the kids are out, parents keep an ear open. My kids know the people they can go to in an emergency. Do yours?
Several stats to consider:
Stranger kidnappings = 115 a year.
Injuries by lightening strikes = 300 a year
In other words, there's more of a chance of someone you know being struck by lightening than being kidnapped by a stranger.
Other fun facts from: http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6143427/k.38C5/Child_Sexual_Abuse_Statistics.htm
84% of sexual assaults on children occur in a home
90-95% of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know (who often spend time grooming the child and the family)
The number of identified incidents of child sexual abuse decreased 47% from 1993 to 2005-2006 (Sedlack, et. al., 2010)
In terms of other accidents, children get hurt. You cannot prevent them from all harm. You can make sure they have helmets, wear shoes when riding bikes (you don't want to see a kid who's had their bare toes dragged across the asphalt after a bike accident), wrist protectors when roller skating. You can set boundaries and rules. One of the 'rules' in our neighborhood is that if you're riding your bike down the hill into the T intersection, there's got to be someone down at the bottom watching for cars. The kids are amazingly good at doing this. They have more brains that you might think.
Originally Posted by SeattleRain
I'd hate to think that something happened to my kid that might not have happened if I had been there. Who would want to live with that guilt?
At what age does your child learn skills to make decisions and watch out for themselves? Can you really protect your child from all harm? That's a huge burden to bear.