And We Worry About Our Kids Walking a Couple Blocks to School

Hi Folks: I don’t think I need to comment here, except to say I would be just as terrified at that one girl looks. — L.

19 Responses

  1. Ok, I’m all for free range, but seriously!? Those poor kids. I hope the city can kick it in gear and get that bridge fixed like the citizens been asking them to and before anyone dies. :(

  2. Remember that video clip some months back of Columbian kids ziplining to school, sometimes 2-up? Ahh, here it is.

    I would SO do that. (Cross that bride, and zipline! What fun.)

  3. Yeah, if you have a choice it’s fun. Some of the kids seem like it’s no big deal but some of the kids on the video are visibly terrified, though. I felt so bad for the little girl in tears. It’s just sad.

  4. Those kids will be so much stronger and more prepared for anything life throws at them than American kids.

  5. Yes the girl looks scared. But what really gets me is how clean her shoes are. Wow they are spotless! Who bought them for her that day? Did she get them that week? So are the rest of the kids who climbed across a broken bridge.

  6. Yes, those kids are all well-dressed. I am sure that the town can fix that bridge.

  7. Oh my goodness, I have just spent so much time searching this site for a way to contact via email – am I blind? How on earth do I write a letter in?? Help! :)

    I just wanted to share this: In an article in the NY Times today, media researcher Danah Boyd linked kids’ craving for unsupervised online interactions with the growing trend to restrict their real world lives: “Children’s ability to roam has basically been destroyed… Letting your child out to bike around the neighborhood is seen as terrifying now, even though by all measures, life is safer for kids today.” This is why, she believes, kids flock to the relatively freer world of online chat rooms and social networking sites, probably not the results parents would have hoped for.

    Here’s a link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/fashion/danah-boyd-cracking-teenagers-online-codes.html?pagewanted=1&src=rechp

  8. My kids bike to school every day- even in cold temps. A mom last week told me “they look so cold” and asked if I needed help driving them. They choose to bike because it’s easier and faster and they have proper outerwear. (We subscribe to the theory that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices.)

    I will happily forward this clip to her. Maybe her kid can watch in his minivan while passing the kids riding to school with smiles on their faces.

  9. Regarding the Columbian Zip Line: Ok, I am a free range mom, and I find this fascinating and yes, I realize how dangerous this is. We are very luck here, don’t you think? We have sidewalks, crosswalks and crossing guards and yet, many American parents and especially school officials still won’t let their children walk a reasonable distance to school. My kid wants to ride her bike which is now (recently moved) a 5 mile trek (in Minnestoa weather). and no, I won’t let her. She now takes a bus. In the summer, we will ride into town and get ice cream and ride the bike trail together. You do what you can to teach independence and physical fitness and love of nature. Luckily Minnesota is on my side. They have outdoor recess everyday unless it is below zero or raining or snowing.

  10. Jaimie: I read that article as well. I loved it. I am a free-ranger in every way with my kids (now 14, 20, 22, 25 & 27). I have never given them any restrictions regarding the internet. I trust that they have learned good judgement and that they are honest with me. Another benefit of free-range. Interestingly & coincidentally, a local columnist here in Phoenix wrote today about allowing her 13 year old son to get a Facebook page. The list of restrictions she gave him were bordering on obsessive to my mind. Kids will never learn good judgment and who to trust if we never allow them to exercise it!

  11. There are very few school buses in American Samoa and I have yet to see a drop off line at any village school. Kids are required to get themselves to school by walking or riding the very colorful local aiga (family) buses (for which they often keep quarters in their ears because the traditional Samoan dress doesn’t have pockets). At the end of the day, kids are simply released to make their way home. No pick up by parents. No check out. No kids held inside until parents arrive to claim them.

    But life is also very different here. People live in extended family units which are very close knit and children are reared to care for those younger than them and to respect their elders even if those “elders” are just cousins a couple years older. A 5 year old is not truly expected to get to and from school alone. S/he will travel with older siblings, cousins or aunties. Even if there is no immediate family member to help, the other kids from the village will watch over the little ones. And everyone knows everyone else here. It’s not like Junior will get too far off course before someone notices. The fear of a child being attacked by a dog, getting lost or getting hit by a car is real. The fear of kidnapping is completely non-existent from what I can tell so far.

  12. I had classmates who rode their horses to school during nice weather, with no one fretting that it might bolt and throw the kid.

    In winter, several times I ended up with an unplanned sleepover for friends when the roads drifted shut during the day. No one panicked, the school just called and said the buses couldn’t make it through the drifts and the students were sent home with a classmate who lived in town.

    Flash floods can strand AZ schoolchildren even now, and we deal with it.

  13. Regarding the clean shoes etc, it may be that the children only wear shoes for school. Sandals or bare feet for home……And the uniforms are easy to dry in Indonesia, as it’s so darn hot, so probably washed every day. No reason to assume that the city, if they are in a city, is well-off…..

  14. And in addition to what hineata said, in many poorer places, cleanliness is really highly valued because it’s one of the few things you CAN manage (if you can manage it.)

    So I wouldn’t chalk up the clean shoes to a prosperous community. Maybe yes, maybe no.

    On the photo itself, of course placing kids in objective, consistent danger just so they can get to school isn’t really what Free Range is about. (In fact, this probably cuts kids with moderate fear issues right out of getting an education.) It’s just a good comparison to the “dangers” that some people think lurk around us here in our nice, safe environments.

  15. “. (In fact, this probably cuts kids with moderate fear issues right out of getting an education.)”

    not really, pentamom. Those kids quickly learn to overcome those issues, with no parents to reinforce their fears and turn light or moderate fears into blind panic about trivialities.
    Peer pressure, no parents telling them everything in the world is out to get them, etc. etc. means those kids aren’t afraid of much of anything.

  16. “not really, pentamom. Those kids quickly learn to overcome those issues, with no parents to reinforce their fears and turn light or moderate fears into blind panic about trivialities.
    Peer pressure, no parents telling them everything in the world is out to get them, etc. etc. means those kids aren’t afraid of much of anything.”

    Okay, I agree that living in a more challenging environment with less coddling is going to make kids less susceptible to a lot of things. And that a lot of American kids who are pretty fearful, wouldn’t be, in a place like that.

    But is there something about the environment or genetics there that eliminates the kinds of situations where kids have innate issues that just can’t be overcome by peer pressure, lack of fear being instilled by parents, and good old-fashioned Indonesian know-how?

    Because I’ll bet there are still some kids there for whom confidence-building and a positive cultural attitude toward doing-what-needs-be-done isn’t quite enough to get them to quite realistically risk death on an unstable bridge every day.

  17. Just returned from Thailand where we were walking past a Primary School having a carnival. As a teacher in Aust I was amused to see kids purchasing ice-creams through the school fence. I have a great photo of all these little arms outstrecthed some holding icecreams. I didnt see stressed teachers running around telling kids “not to go near the fence” or “get down out of that tree” or “don’t speak to strangers through the fence” or “sit down, don’t jump around” or “walk on the concrete” – just a whole lot of kids having fun and nobody looked as though they were injured or in danger.

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