Child safety question--is this extreme? - Mothering Forums
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Parenting > Child safety question--is this extreme?
Laurel's Avatar Laurel 02:35 AM 02-14-2007
I teach private music lessons. One of my students is 15 years old, and I thought it was interesting that he always calls to get a ride home from a family member, even though he lives less than two blocks away from my house. I just figured it was a matter of a teen not wanting to have to put the effort into walking, and thought it was nice of his family to accomodate him. (My mom made me walk a lot further than that to piano lessons when I was a kid...it wasn't quite "up hill both ways in the snow" but I sure felt that way at times.) Anyway, I casually mentioned something about it to the student's mom, and she told me that it is her own policy for her kids. They are not to walk anywhere alone. I was quite taken aback. This is a teenage boy we're talking about, not a little child. He could literally walk to his house in less time than it takes for him to call for a ride and have them show up to get him. We live in a quiet neighborhood in a fairly small town.

His mother's reasoning is that the world just isn't like it used to be years ago, and she's just not willing to take the chance of something happening. I could see where she was coming from, and I thought to myself that yes, the fear of kidnapping is one that she can pretty well take off her mind by controlling the situation in this way. (Not entirely of course, because her kids still have to be at school every day...)

But... I have to wonder if there aren't other ramifications of this that might not be so positive. I know there is always a chance that something bad could happen to one of our kids, and I know it is good to take necessary and reasonable precautions to keep them safe. But this seems really extreme to me. I feel like part of my job as a mother is to gradually help my children prepare for eventually living on their own, and part of doing that is to give them increasing levels of responsibility and independence as they get older. I'm definitely not talking about teaching babies to self-soothe or anything like that. But I wonder if it would be too sheltering to insist that a teenager could not even walk home a couple of blocks and if that could somehow have some negative effects of a kid who is preparing for adulthood in just a few years. Would my own kids be ready to go to college and be on their own if they'd never even been allowed to walk a few blocks in broad daylight?

I hope this doesn't come across as being totally critical of the mom. She is a great mom--in fact, there are many things I admire about her parenting and would hope to emulate in my own home. I'm more just trying to understand her POV. My ds is only 4, and I struggle with knowing how much independence to give him. I used to let him walk two doors down to his friend's by himself, and recently decided that wasn't such a good idea, so I now stand outside and watch to make sure he gets there safely. I thought I was one of the more protective parents in the neighborhood until I talked to my student's mom. They're her kids, and it's her business, but I was intrigued with her viewpoint.

Getz's Avatar Getz 02:44 AM 02-14-2007
Maybe there was an incident in the mother's life that caused her to be so cautious?

But, if not, I do think it is a bit extreme myself. I almost think small towns can be safer because everyone knows everyone else. In my small town growing up you couldn't do anything without someone seeing your dad up at the gas station and telling on you!

Kinda off topic, but why do they drive the 2 blocks instead of walk to get him? It seems like a waste of gas.
BelgianSheepDog's Avatar BelgianSheepDog 02:47 AM 02-14-2007
I think it's VERY extreme. And I think it's unhealthy. We're not talking about a 7 year old here, we're talking about a kid who is going to be out in the world working or going to school in three or four years. My parents seriously are control freaks to the extent of pathology and they kept me on a very short leash out of "protectiveness." People are shocked when they hear how little I was allowed to do, even at 17 years old! BUT...even THEY let me go to my violin lessons alone. And it was hardly next door...I had to walk a quarter mile to a bus stop, ride two buses, and walk another quarter mile to the teacher's door!
ThreeBeans's Avatar ThreeBeans 02:58 AM 02-14-2007
Definitely extreme, and possibly damaging to the young man. Heck, PROBABLY damaging to the young man
RainCoastMama's Avatar RainCoastMama 04:24 AM 02-14-2007
Regardless of whether I think it's extreme, who are we to judge a mama's parenting? We have no idea about her background, her life experiences or her personal use of 'the gift'. The world can be a scary place to someone who consumes a lot of sensational news, and I would never pass judgement on another family trying their best to ensure their kids' safety.

FWIW, I grew up in a violent country where we could not play in our own backyards without an adult watching, forget walking 2 blocks. Familes live in gated communites, hire guards, etc. etc. My parents brought this mentality to our new (safer) country and I do not begrudge them.
Jessy1019's Avatar Jessy1019 09:40 AM 02-14-2007
Very extreme, and not good for the teenager (almost an adult) at all.
shayinme's Avatar shayinme 10:27 AM 02-14-2007
I have a 15 yo ds and yes that does seem extreme. A 15 yo is 3 years away from being a legal adult, and while the world is a different place than it was years ago, the kid still needs to get comfortable in it. Just my 2 cents.

Shay
lifescholar's Avatar lifescholar 10:48 AM 02-14-2007
Yeah, my mom was (is) extremely controlling and super over-protective, but my sister and I walked to school together when we were 9 and 10! And we lived in a quiet neighbourhood, but in a large city.

By 15, I could take the bus with my friends, etc. Although my mom's rules were so strict that I really wasn't able to go out much.

Now, if it was DARK when this kid's lessons are over, I could totally understand them picking him up, but if not, yeah, I could imagine that it might make him OVER cautious and paranoid.

But, maybe this mom has a good reason....I mean, after all, I know it's going to take me a LOT of effort to allow my son to go anywhere by himself...if I could, I'd take him everywhere until he's 10! lol But, his own well-being has to prevail, not my own needs to keep him safe...
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 10:55 AM 02-14-2007
It does seem extreme to me. I read Protecting the Gift this week and from his perspective, she'd be better off equipping him to deal with situations that may come up (but probably won't) than not giving him those skills.
North_Of_60's Avatar North_Of_60 10:58 AM 02-14-2007
In my home town THREE teenagers, not one, THREE were assaulted by a man who jumped out of the bushes as they walked home, during the day, on a fairly busy road. One of the teenagers ended up with a stab wound in her leg. It was because they were all together that something worse didn't end up happening. And this was a "nice quiet suburb", too.

So yeah, I can totally see where she is coming from. And as a person who was chased down by a weirdo myself (he hopped out of his car and came after me, and I ran through a neighbors yard and hopped the fence, with a BROKEN foot) I will probably be the same way with my child.

People say that "statistically" a kidnapping or some other weirdo coming after you isn't likely to happen, but I've learned from experience that when you say "it's not likely to happen to me" that it will bite you in the ass. HARD. So nope, my kids probably won't walk much. Which is a shame, because I have some pretty awesome memories of us walking to and from school. I don't know, I guess it depends on where we end up living. Here? I doubt it.
shayinme's Avatar shayinme 11:27 AM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
In my home town THREE teenagers, not one, THREE were assaulted by a man who jumped out of the bushes as they walked home, during the day, on a fairly busy road. One of the teenagers ended up with a stab wound in her leg. It was because they were all together that something worse didn't end up happening. And this was a "nice quiet suburb", too.

So yeah, I can totally see where she is coming from. And as a person who was chased down by a weirdo myself (he hopped out of his car and came after me, and I ran through a neighbors yard and hopped the fence, with a BROKEN foot) I will probably be the same way with my child.

People say that "statistically" a kidnapping or some other weirdo coming after you isn't likely to happen, but I've learned from experience that when you say "it's not likely to happen to me" that it will bite you in the ass. HARD. So nope, my kids probably won't walk much. Which is a shame, because I have some pretty awesome memories of us walking to and from school. I don't know, I guess it depends on where we end up living. Here? I doubt it.

I hear you and it most certainly sucks that the world is a far more dangerous place but would it not be more shocking for a kid to go from being totally sheltered to at 18, now you are an adult, off to college you go? To me there has to be a transition, its kind of like when you have sons at a certain point you let them go to the public bathroom alone.

Like I said earlier I have a 15 yo son and the world is scary but he is making the transition from child to young adult. In less than a year (350 days but whose counting) he will be able to legally drive a car. Yikes that scares me, he is in HS and he has told me some things about HS that scares me but I know I cannot let my fears guide things.

Shay
UUMom's Avatar UUMom 11:35 AM 02-14-2007
Why can't she walk to pick him up? Or stand on the porch and watch for him. It sounds like an extreme waste of fossil fuels as well. It reminds me of that old Steve Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker movie ...LA Story...where he gets in his car and drives 6 feet.
nancy926's Avatar nancy926 01:32 PM 02-14-2007
At some point, we have to give our kids the skills to deal with things on their own. Will this kid be 30 and still have his mom coming to pick him up? I'm not saying she should treat him like an adult RIGHT NOW, but you have to start allowing freedom and responsibility at some point, and that means allowing risk. In a year or two he could be driving a car - much riskier IMHO than walking 2 blocks in broad daylight. Will she let him do that?

Life is risk. I would rather give my kids tools and strategies than try to shelter them their entire lives, which you just cannot do.
phathui5's Avatar phathui5 02:11 PM 02-14-2007
Is the kid in question developmentally delayed? Does he have a history of running away or behavior that would lead her to not trust him on the walk home?
Houdini's Avatar Houdini 02:21 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Getz View Post
Maybe there was an incident in the mother's life that caused her to be so cautious?

But, if not, I do think it is a bit extreme myself. I almost think small towns can be safer because everyone knows everyone else. In my small town growing up you couldn't do anything without someone seeing your dad up at the gas station and telling on you!

Kinda off topic, but why do they drive the 2 blocks instead of walk to get him? It seems like a waste of gas.
Exactly what I was thinking.
sarah0404's Avatar sarah0404 03:19 PM 02-14-2007
There was a study in the news just this week here in the UK about the same thing. It turns out more children are killed by cars than killed by weirdos. And of the children who were murdered the majority were killed by family members, or people who the family had allowed access to their children. Only a tiny percent were killed by strangers. So really the risk of something happening to your child is absolutly tiny. But still... everytime I hear on the news about a missing child... it makes me very uncomfortable about letting my children go out anywhere without me.

I think by 15 though I wouldn't be picking them up from somewhere so close by. But then again I'm 25 and my dad will still come and pick me up at 3am to make sure I get home safely!
newmommy's Avatar newmommy 05:39 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by RainCoastMama View Post
Regardless of whether I think it's extreme, who are we to judge a mama's parenting? We have no idea about her background, her life experiences or her personal use of 'the gift'. The world can be a scary place to someone who consumes a lot of sensational news, and I would never pass judgement on another family trying their best to ensure their kids' safety.

I completely agree with this.
newmommy's Avatar newmommy 05:42 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by North_Of_60 View Post
In my home town THREE teenagers, not one, THREE were assaulted by a man who jumped out of the bushes as they walked home, during the day, on a fairly busy road. One of the teenagers ended up with a stab wound in her leg. It was because they were all together that something worse didn't end up happening. And this was a "nice quiet suburb", too.

So yeah, I can totally see where she is coming from. And as a person who was chased down by a weirdo myself (he hopped out of his car and came after me, and I ran through a neighbors yard and hopped the fence, with a BROKEN foot) I will probably be the same way with my child.

People say that "statistically" a kidnapping or some other weirdo coming after you isn't likely to happen, but I've learned from experience that when you say "it's not likely to happen to me" that it will bite you in the ass. HARD. So nope, my kids probably won't walk much. Which is a shame, because I have some pretty awesome memories of us walking to and from school. I don't know, I guess it depends on where we end up living. Here? I doubt it.
I agree.

OP, no I do not think his Mom coming to pick him up at Age 15 is extreme...ESPECIALLY in this day and age.
Evan&Anna's_Mom's Avatar Evan&Anna's_Mom 05:51 PM 02-14-2007
Well, it would seem extreme for me and my family, but I can see situations where not knowing the whole story could be an issue. For example, I know one family where the father leaves work early each day to retreive his 17 YO from school and supervise her for the remainder of the afternoon. Why? Because she has a history with drugs and this way she can't go back to that. Since many kidnappings are actually parents in custody battles, perhaps she has an over-the-top ex that she is worried about. Or maybe someone in the family does something to make the family at risk for harm. We rarely see the whole picture, so I would assume there is more there than meets the eye.
Laurel's Avatar Laurel 05:59 PM 02-14-2007
I just want to clarify that I did not start this thread just to be judgmental. I posted about this situation because it is something that makes me examine my own views of child safety, and because I wanted opinions on the larger questions of balancing concern for safety with the need to help children develop into confident, responsible adults, which to me means allowing room for some degree of risk. I think that is a valid question for discussion. Sorry if I did not make my intentions clear enough.

phathui5 wrote:
Quote:
Is the kid in question developmentally delayed? Does he have a history of running away or behavior that would lead her to not trust him on the walk home?
No to all of the above. He is academically and musically gifted, and involved in many activites and projects at the local high school. He is what many would call a really, really "good" kid, for lack of a better word...mature for his age, responsible, etc. His mother says this is her rule for all her kids (there are five of them).

Several posters mentioned the possibility that the mom had an experience that led her to this kind of caution, and I think that is a possibility, even though she did not mention anything.
woobysma's Avatar woobysma 05:59 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarah0404 View Post
There was a study in the news just this week here in the UK about the same thing. It turns out more children are killed by cars than killed by weirdos. And of the children who were murdered the majority were killed by family members, or people who the family had allowed access to their children. Only a tiny percent were killed by strangers. So really the risk of something happening to your child is absolutly tiny. But still... everytime I hear on the news about a missing child... it makes me very uncomfortable about letting my children go out anywhere without me.
Statistically, it's the same here in the US - driving our kids somewhere is BY FAR the most dangerous thing any of us do on a daily basis. I don't understand the level of fear that some people have, but I wouldn't judge another mom without knowing her - maybe something did happen to her, maybe she has someone in her life who's unstable (like a crazy ex), there could be lots of reasons she feels the need to be overly protective.

The extreme waste of gas does kind of bug me, though.
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 06:05 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmommy View Post
I agree.

OP, no I do not think his Mom coming to pick him up at Age 15 is extreme...ESPECIALLY in this day and age.
What day and age? The one where we here about all the weirdos, as opposed to only hearing about the locals?

My grandmother was assaulted as she walked home at the age of 16...that would have been...hmm...1925 or thereabouts? Nobody knew about it, and it didn't make the papers - and she did manage to fight the guy off.

My mom was assaulted in about 1960. She also managed to get loose, and nobody knew about it, and it wasn't splashed all over the papers.

We had a sicko kidnapping teenagers and killing them when I was about 12. It was all over the news here, and his name still makes locals cringe. But...I'm not sure that people on the other side of the country knew about him.

This stuff has been going on forever. We hear all about it now. Our society wallows in it. But, it's not new.


I can't even imagine requiring ds1 to call me to pick him up from two blocks away. There's no way I'd be taking a car out and wasting all that gas. I suppose I could walk over and pick him up, but I'm not sure what difference my presence would make if someone decided to jump us.

I think this is extreme, and it doesn't sound healthy. As many people have pointed out, this boy's less than a year from being able to drive, and only three years from going off to college or getting a job. I think three years is an awfully short time to switch gears from "I can't walk two blocks home by myself" to dealing with all the various situations that an adult can find themselves in.


With respect to the possibility that there's something else going on (eg. drugs, an ex, etc.), that's always a possibility, but the OP did say:

Quote:
His mother's reasoning is that the world just isn't like it used to be years ago, and she's just not willing to take the chance of something happening.
That doesn't sound like there are any specific problems going on. The mom is just terrified of the world and what it might do to her son. Personally, I'm more afraid of what could happen to ds1 at school than I've ever been about what might happen on his way to and from.
maryeliz's Avatar maryeliz 06:05 PM 02-14-2007
I would find this extreme under normal circumstances, but I also think everyone needs to do their own cost/benefit analysis.

One thing I do take issue with: the statement that the world is more dangerous today. Since when exactly? Since the 1970s when I was a kid? Doubtful. Since the 1670s? Maybe, but there have always been criminals, abusers, and generally bad people around. There are some new threats, in the past abusers couldn't troll for kids on the internet and the international sex trade in children from poor countries has increased in the past few decades. But if you read old newspapers, you'll find that crimes against children are an old and common problem. And that coverage probably represents and undercounting because in the past people were less likely to report sex crimes against children.

All that said, I think you could take that information and make two very different arguements. One that children have always been endangered so you have to always keep them close. And my own belief that children had always been endangered so you have to do your best to prepare them for the world.
newmommy's Avatar newmommy 06:43 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
What day and age?
I knew that would come up...I don't have the time to get into a debate on whether or not the world is more dangerous today than it was 50-100 years ago.

I can think of thousands of incidents that have occurred just in the last 10-20years that would have been unheard of in our grandparents' age.

One example- Schools. You all don't think schools are more dangerous today than they were 10-20 years ago?

If not, give me a day and I'll send you a couple of disturbing school violence youtube videos that would leave you breathless....

At least in my region, every week there is some sort of school shooting or gang violence etc..

Now you have students dressing up in black trench coates with an aim "to kill as many people as you can"

Or more recently (yesterday) a Man open firing in Utah Mall.

Also more recently, what 2 or 3 months ago? A man open firing on an Amish community killing innocent kids...

Tell me you heard about that "back in the day"

Again, Schools is just one example. Which is why alot of parents in my region are choosing to Homeschool (not the #1 Reason, but certainly A reason).
Kundalini-Mama's Avatar Kundalini-Mama 06:50 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThreeBeans View Post
Definitely extreme, and possibly damaging to the young man. Heck, PROBABLY damaging to the young man


townmouse's Avatar townmouse 07:06 PM 02-14-2007
I've shared my seemingly overprotective views here on MDC before, but IMO that's for little children.

Does she not realize he can leave home in 3 years? What will he do then? Is a college campus really safer than his own neighborhood?

IMO if she so fears for her children's safety, she could enroll them in karate and self-defense classes to keep themselves safe, in Red Cross classes (like babysitting, first aid, CPR) to give them skills to keep self and others safe), and equip them with cell phones and maybe mace. Then let 'em go.
MtBikeLover's Avatar MtBikeLover 07:17 PM 02-14-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
This stuff has been going on forever. We hear all about it now. Our society wallows in it. But, it's not new.
I totally agree with this. With the invention of the TV and the proliferation of channels, especially news channels, they need to have something to talk about. And they have learned that these type of stories get viewership.

Back to the original question, yes, I do think that she is being too extreme. We let my DH's 14 year old daughter walk 1/2 mile to get to our swimming pool and never even blinked an eye.
BusyMommy's Avatar BusyMommy 07:18 PM 02-14-2007
I'd say a compromise is in order; ie. have him call and say I'm heading home now. Then, she can keep an eye out for him. Have him carry a cell phone.

We had a teenaged girl kidnapped and killed while waiting at her bus stop in the morning. It can happen.

It's a tough call & I really can't judge over protective Moms b/c I'm not one and it's scary either way.
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar IdentityCrisisMama 07:35 PM 02-14-2007
I was listening to an NPR article on obesity and they sited fear of walking to school and in our neighborhoods as part of the obesity problem in the US. I thought that was an interesting point when dealing with the “better safe than sorry” way of thinking that seems so wrong to me when it comes to this kind of thing.

IMO, and having nothing to do with this particular parent because I agree that there might be something going on with that family that we don’t know about (maybe bullying in the neighborhood or something that you just don’t talk to your music teacher about, it’s best to think about the whole package.

When we don’t let kids walk around and when we don’t walk around as a family, the streets are emptier. Emptier streets have fewer eyes around, fewer people checking out what’s going on (because it’s not “our kid” out there) and they’re more difficult to police. In a sense dangerous streets become a self fulfilling prophecy. JMO.
lilyka's Avatar lilyka 07:44 PM 02-14-2007
Yes I think it is extreme behavior but i also think that this extreme is becoming normal.

our cars give us such a sense of saftey don't they. I refuse to live my life ocked into my metal box of peace and comfort and I erfuse to allow my children to do so (much less force them.) I walk too and from work. its 2 miles. I get off between 10:00 PM and midnight. I live in a rough part of town. I am not scared in the slightest. and I get no end fo grief about it. but i refuse to live my life scared of "what if". There just came a point where I decided what i was missing by always tucking myself safely away was worth the risk of a little less safety. my kids climb trees and go barefoot and go sledding on the slickest most areodynamic object they can find or build. I am not constantly chasing them to the bathroom to wash thier hands and we are firm believers in the 10 second rule. Life is just to short to be scared that there is a criminal, accident or germ waiting to nab you around every corner.
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