Why I Rolled My Eyes On FoxNews Today

Now I know how Al Gore felt.

 Well, at least about playing to TV.

Remember how he was caught rolling his eyes during one of the Presidential debates, and that sealed his fate – for some folks, anyway – as a hopelessly smug know-it-all?

I rolled my eyes on TV today, too. Wish I hadn’t, because I don’t mean to be a know-it-all. But I’ve done my research and I do know some.

The show was “Fox & Friends,” where I’d gone to debate the idea of Free-Range Kids with a nice lady who believes that children are being snatched off the streets right and left. And to prove it she cited a statistic, “Every 2.5 minutes someone is a victim of a sexual crime.”

Didn’t say what age person. Didn’t say whether we were talking about Manhattan, or America or the big, round earth we live on. Didn’t mention whether she was talking about assaults by strangers, though that was the implication. Otherwise why use that statistic to explain why you keep your kids off the street? (But in fact, about 90% of the sex crimes against kids are committed by people they know.)

So I rolled my eyes and then tried to get in a statistic of my own. The one I had folks guessing about on this very blog yesterday when I asked the question: If you, for some strange reason, WANTED your child to be KIDNAPPED AND HELD OVERNIGHT BY A STRANGER, HOW LONG WOULD YOU HAVE TO LEAVE HIM OR HER OUTSIDE, ALONE AND UNSUPERVISED HERE IN AMERICA, FOR THIS TO BE STATISTICALLY LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

The answer, crunched for me by Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously is this: 750,000 years.

Probably more than you guessed. More than I guessed, too. And probably quite a few more than my debate partner would have reckoned.

 She sees the world as filled with creeps. I see it as filled with humans, most of them decent, a small percentage of them not. It’s a percentage I have warned my children to beware of, and taught them to kick, scream and run away from in the unlikely event they ever come face to face, but not to obsess about.

Because of our visions, my debate partner and I are raising our children differently. She will not let her children out of her sight. I will. She would not trust a 13-year-old babysitter. I would. She thinks I’m cavalier about child molesters. I think she’s cavalier about the implications of never letting children try anything on their own, and teaching them to feel helpless and scared.

I rolled my eyes but I do feel that we both want the very same thing: The best for our kids.

Bush and Gore both wanted the best for their country, too. They just had different visions. And one of them rolled his eyes.

 — Lenore

81 Responses

  1. love your stuff lenore, it reminds me every day to loosen up. but it’s hard. but i try. thanks.

  2. I did not watch the broadcast, but I think you are incredible for going on (and to an extent, up against) mainstream media.

    With fear-mongering and all the rest, it can super-hard to “loosen up” and raise one’s kids such that they are allowed to be competent, free, smart, and independent. Those who take your views are sometimes accused of or inferred to as leaving our children for the (apparent hoardes of) psychopathic perverts that prowl our every street.

    But those who take (what I consider to be) the paranoid view – when do they have to answer for the cost of spreading fear, of living without logic (750,000 years, people!!), of drilling it into their kids (and trying to instill it in the rest of us) that the world is a SCARY, HORRIBLE PLACE and that at ANY MOMENT something might swoop right down and do the worst thing possible to your most beloved. Oh, and that we should live our lives preparing for and “preventing” such a tragedy.

  3. Why would you go on Fox News? You’re only going to feed the inevitable trolls. Seriously, though, you should set your standards higher.

  4. Would it be possible for the obliging Mr Cairns to crunch some more numbers and come up with a definitive percentage of child abductions and assaults that are perpetrated by strangers, vs those done by family members or friends? Because it is REALLY hard to find that info and without it, discussions can turn into a they said/I said thing.

  5. I recorded (on too early for us west coasters!) and watched it this afternoon. I was yelling at your debate partner to STOP. INTERRUPTING. YOU.

    I hate when places like Faux News lets people talk all over other people. I was waiting for you to give the chances and they never GAVE you the chance.

    Harrumph.

  6. “we both want the very same thing: The best for our kids.”

    That is all just about every parent wants… and you always have to keep that in mind both the blog posts and the readers commenting.

    Like any other idea each family needs to look at their kids and the people around them and judge at what level of “free range” would be right to start with.

    10 year old kids and certianly 13 year old kids used to be able to baby sit or stay home alone for a while….I can’t know now what a 13 year old can do, maybe he or she is taking care of her entire house hold or maybe they were parented in to helplessness and truly can’t function alone or watching another child. It would be based on the person /child and my judgment. Where the person lives, what happened to them as a child, what was scared in to them etc…

    I still enjoy this blog, just wanted people to keep in mind that the world is grey and the whole good/bad , right/wrong , only room for two ideas at a time is great for movies but lets leave it there and work in a constructive open view of the other side instead of drawing lines.

    “we both want the very same thing: The best for our kids.”

    Here is a free range tip- Stay at home dads- just because you see a dad playing with his kids at the park does not mean he is there to attack your child and take them away nor should you feel the need to come over and question weather or not those are his kids or drag your kid away from theirs when they are playing nicely together. Playground reality.

  7. Faux News will have the entire conservative Republican base know you’re an egotistical educated know-it-all by the end of this week.

    I never quite figured out why being an educated know-it-all is such a bad thing, as they used it to attack John Kerry, Al Gore, and Obama. “They’re not someone you can sit down and have a beer with.”

    Why in the world would I want anyone I meet at the bar or anyone I sit down to have a beer with rule the country and have the nuclear code? Save for one person I have beers with (my fiance), who, IMO, is incredibly intelligent and patient, I wouldn’t trust the rest of them with a military or the nuclear code, let alone solving an economic crisis.

    Yes, I WANT educated people who may or may not be friendly and “just like us” to rule the country. I don’t want a Yale C student rated by professors to be the least likely to be the president of America to rule the country.

    If I can have a beer with him, then he needs to sit tight and shut up next to the beer.

  8. For what it’s worth, I was rolling my eyes right along with Gore and I’ll roll them right along with you too!

  9. thanks, thanks for tackling the overprotective parenting genre.

    or the “OPMC” Over Protective Mothers Conglomerate.

    unfortunately, people confuse safety, with the idea of being devoid of all forms of risk.

    I am glad you you understand this relationship for what it is.

    thanks again.

  10. First mistake, you went on Fox. Lenore, Lenore, Lenore, Fox has perfected the art of framing the debate. Not only that but its whole raison d’etre is to make its audience feel that it is under threat every single day. Fox is a channel that promotes authoritarian behavior in its followers because as researchers have discovered, people who have heightened awareness of their own mortality tend to vote along more conservative lines. They want a Big Brother type to save them from outside threats. You were ambushed by Fox. Remember, these are the people who brought you Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. Fox does to its audience with a sledge hammer what David Brooks, that slithery snake, does with his poison pen. The point is to undermine the audience’s sense of well being, trust, security and safety. That way, a strong person, usually someone with authoritarian tendencies can be promoted as a savior.
    But don’t believe me. Believe Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba who wrote the book on the subject. It’s called The Authoritarians.
    Stay away from Fox. The audience will never believe you. It is older, more religious and more deeply conditioned. It has the capacity to reason but not the habit. And Fox has provoked very strong emotional responses. When a person is in the midst of that emotion, it is difficult to reason. Everything you say will be subject to ridicule. You will be totally unbelievable because they know in their guts that what you are saying is naive. (it’s not, BTW)
    Stick to more mainstream, suburbanite friendly media. Try to build your movement through grassroots, meetups, bumperstickers. When it becomes ‘cool’, Fox watchers will want to join it. There will be more comfort in numbers. Right now, you look like you’re tilting at windmills to them. They think that everyone is under attack.

  11. Any “news” channel you appear on will automatically be out to prove you wrong. It’s all about ratings and crime stories bring the numbers in. Of course, you already know this.

    Am looking forward to meeting you at BlogHer and personally thanking you for bringing all of this to discussion. For taking the hits for the rest of us.

  12. I didn’t catch the broadcast but I am guessing Fox behaved with their usual style. Good for you with the attitude of we all want what is best for our kids. The world needs a little less intolerance of other people’s opinions. Now if we can just get the other side to believe that.

  13. Once again FOX news plays the fear card which most parents will react too as no one wants any harm to come to their child much less any child. However, stranger danger is a myth and most victims, whether child or adult, know their offender. We have to give our children the power to not live in fear and to be aware of their surroundings when they are outside alone or walking to school. The government cannot keep them safe just as no law will completely stop sexual abuse. We, the parents, must educate ourselves and our children and IMO set up safeguards if a stranger were to approach them but again its usually a family member so how do we keep them safe? Knowledge is power so know the truth and educate yourselves to other dangers our children face http://www.freebrandon.org, http://www.rickyslife.com when will we and FOX educate citizens and parents to these laws and situations so we can protect our children from this life of hell? rickysmom@rickyslife.com

  14. Didn’t catch the broadcast, but I’m sure I would have been rolling my eyes right along with you.

    To Brad: Thanks for the playground reality check. I’ve been excited to start seeing more Dads out with their kids in our town. Here’s hoping more Dads and families start going out to play.

  15. Fox News and others of its ilk need people like Lenore to get on there and get in the minds of the typical Fox News viewer. There’s no point in preaching to the converted on a more liberal news channel.

    Thanks for this blog, Lenore. As a laid back type of mother myself I am driven to distraction by this new overprotective, hovering parent that I have run into every day since my own first child was born. Parenting doesn’t have to be as hard as the money-grubbers who make their fortune from your parental angst make out. Use some common sense, for god’s sake, before we all forget what common sense is.

  16. Ugh, I made the mistake of reading the comments on their blogpost about the interview. Every other post started with, “Times HAVE changed…”

    http://greenroom.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/07/21/free-range-kids/

  17. Regarding the dad at playground thing. A month or two ago I took my kids to the park. A girl who was maybe ten or eleven had a tennis lesson, and when it finished, she couldn’t find her mother. I watched her wander around a bit, then she approached me and asked if she could use my cell phone to call my mom.

    I was a bit surprised, but also very pleased that she wasn’t so terrified of a strange man at the park that she was not afraid to approach me for help. She certainly could have asked any of the moms who were there with their kids.

    It is sometimes an awkward thing to be a man around other people’s kids. I used to work at a daycare and, while they liked having a man working there, there was sometimes tension (real or imagined, I’m not sure) with some parents that a man was with their young kids.

  18. Well everyone has got their own ideologies and as you said both of you care for your kids in your own way. Loved your post… and yes it implies to bush as well as Gore they are 2 different individuals…

  19. […] independence, even though our society in the US is now safer than it’s ever been before. As Lenore Skenazy (the journalist and author who let her 9-year-old son ride on the New York subway by himself) […]

  20. OK, I did not see the debate but I did just go to the link provided by Jer to the comments from people who did see the debate. All I have to say is Ho-ly freaking crap.

    Even if all of Lenore’s statistics are wrong and we really do live in as scary a world as the media wants us to believe, hovering over children and never letting them do anything for themselves is NOT the way to prepare them for that horrible, scary world.

  21. Go Lenore! You are a brave brave woman indeed.

  22. Even if all of Lenore’s statistics are wrong and we really do live in as scary a world as the media wants us to believe, hovering over children and never letting them do anything for themselves is NOT the way to prepare them for that horrible, scary world.

    @Banshee – good point!

  23. God bless ya Lenore for fighting the good fight. I really wish there was a cure for the non-stop-record-your-every-move nature of the current news industry.

    Love this though…

    Any “news” channel you appear on will automatically be out to prove you wrong. It’s all about ratings and crime stories bring the numbers in. Of course, you already know this.

    Too right, Cagey. To accuse Fox or any other “news” station of having some kind of political agenda is really fairly absurd. Accusing “news” outlets of having a political agenda is to accuse them of having a moral code and I think most of us know that the closest thing to morals any of these “news” agencies have is a slavish devotion to chase after dollars by scaring the bejesus out of everyone. “News” agencies play to their base in order to hock their sponsors’ goods and the sponsors write big checks to said news agency in return for valuable air time. Everyone wins… except those of us who would really appreciate relevant and factual reporting and not, say, the latest dramatic kidnapping or Michael Jackson-related story.

  24. I’m a no-nonsense parent,and my sons survived childhood. The oldest is 22, the youngest 16. I had to strike a balance between total “free range” and “hovering.” I grew up in the 60’s in VA and was a Free Range kid. My sibs and I stayed out from dawn til dusk coming home for lunch and to pee. When we heard Mama calling, we came, and when we didn’t, she went out looking. THAT only happened a time or two!

    When a neighborhood mom saw us getting into trouble, she intervened (AND told our mom). So even though we were out playing, people were watching over us. That’s the difference between then and now. Most mothers stayed home, and there was a network of people in our neighborhood who knew each other and looked out for the kids. That network included retired folks as well. We couldn’t get in too much trouble without someone finding us out. Thank goodness. But I never told my parents about the nice old man who invited me and my 8-year-old friend in for a drink and flashed us.

    When my sons were young (late 80’s and 90’s), I choose to stay home as well and worked a schedule so I could be home after school. That’s why I allowed my sons more freedom to be outdoors. But I was only a handful of parents; the rest were latch-key kids who were allowed to come to MY home because there was SUPERVISION.

    I allowed a modified “free range” because I have common sense. My kids had to tell me where they wanted to go, who they’d be with, how long they wanted to stay and whether a parent would be there. They had to check in at certain times. I had to KNOW the kids my sons friends AND their parents. Are these criteria sensible? Yes, they are. They are safeguards. I didn’t let me sons play in the woods behind our development because the older teen boys went back there to get high. Though I found out LATER they DID ride their bikes on the wood trails. You can only do so much to protect your kids but using common sense helps.

  25. I think we have two dysfunctional way of raising children in our culture that often undermine more positive ways to parent. The dysfunctional ways are excessive guilt and/or excessive fear. In the last several years we are moving more to the latter. There are consequences that really come out during the teen years.

    In my experience fear controlled teens must gradually emancipate from family and parents to become healthy functioning adults. Kids raised with excessive fear can be too anxious to make this developmental transition without alot of therapy and relearning how they and the world work and interact..

    Many teens go the other extreme spending a portion of their teen years dangerously sticking their heads in the mouth of every hungry lion they can find trying to overcome deepseated instilled fears that otherwise might disrupt the natural drive to emancipation and adulthood.

    I see the more freerange kids avoid much of this behavior as they have developed more internal confidence, judgement, a realistic sense of competency and support beyond just the family. I think this is healthy and even when these teens vere of track, they have the internal strengths to get back on track..

  26. I’m glad you rolled your eyes what your debate partner was quoting was worthy of eye-rolling.

  27. A comments section full of Fox-bashing (and Fox-viewer bashing).

    I thought your blog was for grown-ups who take care of kids, not kids doing schoolyard name-calling and spouting their magical thinking while pretending to be grown-ups.

    I find it fittingly ironic that your basic premise (“the world is full of decent people, with a few bad ones, so manage your risk”) is TOTALLY UNDERCUT by your commenters who want to divide the world into “lying liars, stupid people, and awful zealots watching Faux!” and “the good, smart, morally-just people who watch mainstream, suburbanite friendly media.”

    The comments echo-chamber has just gotten too loud to think.

  28. I have 5 children. The oldest is 9; youngest is 1. I’m torn on the issue… on one hand, I’m a very laid back parent… I don’t rush off to the doctor every time my kid sneezes {my almost-4-year-old hasn’t seen a doctor in over 2 years}… I don’t over-baby them; I believe they should learn early how to be somewhat independent and not rely heavily on others for basic things they can do on their own. They don’t freak out at the sight of blood – they grab some tissue and a bandaid… because we’ve raised them not to wear out all the theatrics just because of a little bo-bo. If something isn’t SERIOUS, then it’s just not serious…

    When it comes to them going out into the world, it’s another story. They play outside until the sun starts to fade, but only on our street. I’m conscious of the influences in their lives, but I don’t teach them to be relentless in judging people or unforgiving of past wrongs. They are allowed – and trusted – to choose their own friends, but I will not let them walk to stores with friends or anything like that. They ride the bus to and from school… I have left the oldest two home by themselves while I run to the post office or some other quick trip (we live in a very small town) but I’m not sure how I will feel about them babysitting in the next few years.

    I think that giving your child room to grow and learn how to be responsible is important, but I also think that as parents, we have to recognize that there are dangers out there we must protect them from. Once something happens, it’s too late to protect them. I wouldn’t say I live in hear of what could happen, but I am definitely aware of the possibilities and I will always do what I can to prevent my children from ever being in a compromising situation. That being said, much of that ‘doing’ involved teaching THEM how to be aware of their surroundings and encouraging them to always consider whether a certain decision may place them in harm’s way.

    I don’t want them to grow up learning to live in fear, but I believe that being conscious and aware of what dangers are out there may make them less likely to become victims.

    – Kat @ For the Love of Chaos | http://www.SenileMOMentia.com

  29. I have 5 children. The oldest is 9; youngest is 1. I’m torn on the issue… on one hand, I’m a very laid back parent… I don’t rush off to the doctor every time my kid sneezes {my almost-4-year-old hasn’t seen a doctor in over 2 years}… I don’t over-baby them; I believe they should learn early how to be somewhat independent and not rely heavily on others for basic things they can do on their own. They don’t freak out at the sight of blood – they grab some tissue and a bandaid… because we’ve raised them not to wear out all the theatrics just because of a little bo-bo. If something isn’t SERIOUS, then it’s just not serious…

    When it comes to them going out into the world, it’s another story. They play outside until the sun starts to fade, but only on our street. I’m conscious of the influences in their lives, but I don’t teach them to be relentless in judging people or unforgiving of past wrongs. They are allowed – and trusted – to choose their own friends, but I will not let them walk to stores with friends or anything like that. They ride the bus to and from school… I have left the oldest two home by themselves while I run to the post office or some other quick trip (we live in a very small town) but I’m not sure how I will feel about them babysitting in the next few years.

    I think that giving your child room to grow and learn how to be responsible is important, but I also think that as parents, we have to recognize that there are dangers out there we must protect them from. Once something happens, it’s too late to protect them. I wouldn’t say I live in hear of what could happen, but I am definitely aware of the possibilities and I will always do what I can to prevent my children from ever being in a compromising situation. That being said, much of that ‘doing’ involved teaching THEM how to be aware of their surroundings and encouraging them to always consider whether a certain decision may place them in harm’s way.

    I don’t want them to grow up learning to live in fear, but I believe that being conscious and aware of what dangers are out there may make them less likely to become victims.

    – Kat @ For the Love of Chaos

  30. How brave of you to brave Fox News.
    Thanks for putting yourself out there to remind us that the scale of our fears and reality rarely match.

  31. So much easier–don’t breed.

  32. fear sells, way our brains work…u will NOT counteract with logic/stats….they make our minds glaze over….some brains are more fear-based, political conservatives it seems….it’s structural and genetic…can’t change…course it can get worse….stories work best…e.g., about how a child’s life was choked by fear-reflex/bias of parents/caretakers….best antidote…dig deeper into brain research…that will help your cause…

  33. Another great post. I wish you would make it easy to share this blog to Facebook. And set up a Facbook fan site!

  34. Wow – I am an avid fan of FRK and love Fox news (among others). What a disappointment to see the comments here.

    On the other hand, please post a link to your debate on Fox if you have one – I’d love to see your segment!

  35. ” Bush and Gore both wanted the best for their country, too. They just had different visions. And one of them rolled his eyes.”

    You, like Gore, rolled your eyes. Because YOU, like Gore, were the one who was RIGHT.

    Jeni

  36. I have always enjoyed this blog and the comments. I am very disappointed to see foul language and immaturity on some of the comments here. Is that really necessary?
    Keep up the good work Lenore~but I am thinking we might not have so much in common after all.

  37. Is the video of Lenore’s segment online anywhere? I missed it (being in the MTN time zone and on vacation and couldn’t record it) and want to see it. I haven’t been able to find it.

  38. I was rolling my eyes right along with you and wondering where on earth they found this woman! I, too, was tired of her interrupting you. I loved how the host was looking at you as she said her piece about the airplane sting. lol Maybe she saw your great comeback coming and was worried about how to respond. You definitely came out looking like the sane mother here.

  39. Well, thank GOD there are enough idiot sheep like you and your readers that are willing to throw your kids out there to the wolves. Maybe the pervs of the world will be so busy feeding on your young they won’t have the time to come after mine.

  40. *rolls eyes at Sheila Bailey* Because the “foul language” of a blog’s readers is totally an indication of how much you have in common with the author…

  41. Is it me or does River Daughter sound like a pompous old fart? I am a born-again Christian who happens to believe in Free-Range kids. Someone always has to bring religion in to it…Christians, even conservative ones like myself, ARE allowed to have our own opinions.

  42. Yeah, I kind of wish I hadn’t gone to the Fox blog to read the comments there. While I am no fan of Fox, –or any other television news outlet, for that matter — it doesn’t seem like it’s worth anyone’s time to bash away on those venues here. We have plenty of other places to do that, IMO.

    Of course, then we have a post like the one from “dog gone,” that hits as hard as it can at one’s emotional brain. It would be easy to strike back, but why? Data and logic are not with “dog gone,” and it appears that this individual (like many on the Fox blog itself) does not care about a true risk assessment.

    Something that has hit me as I began to read Lenore’s book (yes, finally!), is that some of the individual’s she uses as examples of “helicoptering” may actually be dealing with a genuine anxiety disorder outside of social/media influences. I now consider that notion of mine less likely, after reading the Fox blog.

  43. MaeMae: I do think your right that there is no point in generalizing with religion in regard to Fox. While it’s viewers may be more religious than the citizenry as a whole, it does not mean that all religious people buy into everything they see and hear on Fox.

    For me, one of the things that Lenore seems to be trying to do is have an honest debate, with a full disclosure of data and information. That, in itself, is something that doesn’t seem to be very well respected by Fox (and most other news/entertainment outlets, for that matter). Ah, and, of course, full disclosure for us all means acknowledging that Free Range parents are likely to be found across the political and religious spectrum. Yes, that is just fine. At least I hope it is!

  44. I hate it when I’m too tired to focus on my your/you’re.

    Yore!

  45. Hey Mert:

    BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    Shouldn’t you be heading back to the barn soon to be shorn?

  46. I have always enjoyed this blog and the comments. I am very disappointed to see foul language and immaturity on some of the comments here. Is that really necessary?
    Keep up the good work Lenore~but I am thinking we might not have so much in common after all.

    Welcome to the internet. The comments here are a bastion of politeness and maturity compared to comments at, say… well, just about anywhere else.

    If you don’t like it, you could try the sage rule I employ whenever reading articles or youtube videos: Do Not Read The Comments! (Seriously, it never helps to read the comments.)

  47. Congrats for speaking up and out! Didn’t see it, but I think there are armies and armies of people who roll their eyes at FOX news. I’m one of them! You just happened to be on camera, but hey, you’re in good company!

    Cheers!🙂

  48. Lenore thanks for going on Fox News, The are no better than CNN on this issue but no worse either. You needed to go on because your ideas are important and need to be heard, If you only appear in places that agree with you new converts will never be won, I missed the show but I am sure you did well. We need to join you in taking every opportunity to speak out against the fear in our society that is based on perception and misinformation rather than fact..

    Keep up the good work, you are making an impact that could change our society for the better, This is a long battle that is won one person at a time.

  49. Hey Like this whole idea (Just discovered via a “stumble”)
    – but it’s against the law in Australia to have a 13 yr old babysitter.. we aren’t even allowed to leave our children in the car while we are less than 2 metres away buying milk or having a coffee or taking a sibling into daycare- it is seriously called abandonment and daycare centres have a duty of care to call docs if we do it…so I’ll read more on free range kids, but the law isn’t exactly on our side.

  50. Further to Alison’s question about the how many abductions are carried out by complete strangers and how many by family and ‘friends’, it just so happens that I have the numbers in the US edition of my book.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    In the USA, there are around 63 million children under the age of 14. Every year, around 250,000 of these children are what you might call ‘abducted’ . Which seems a reasonably high number, if abduction is what you’re looking for. However, when you look closer at the figures, you discover that the vast majority of them are taken by estranged parents or other relatives in divorce and custody disputes, and almost all of the rest are taken by friends and acquaintances, rather than by strangers .

    It turns out that in any one year, only a hundred or so of America’s children are abducted by complete strangers. In 2006, the figure was 114; and of those 114 children 60% were recovered alive and well, mostly within 24 hours. That leaves 40% – that’s 46 children – who were killed.

  51. nick
    what law are you talking about

  52. Gee. How nice to know those only 46 weren’t that important. Lemme go call my friend whose little one was abducted and murdered by a stranger: “Hey, get over it. Ain’t no biggie! Look at the bright side – he was only one of 46!”

    *Cue the rainbows, sunshine, lollipops, and twittering birdies*

    Thanks again for minimizing the anguish and heartbreak of anyone who’s ever experienced anything like this.

  53. […] lifetime”. The answer, calculated by Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously, and published by Lenore Skenazy on her excellent Free-range Kids site is an astonishing 750,000 years! I can only guess at the methodology used to reach that number, but […]

  54. Gee. How nice to know those only 46 weren’t that important. Lemme go call my friend whose little one was abducted and murdered by a stranger: “Hey, get over it. Ain’t no biggie! Look at the bright side – he was only one of 46!”

    You know, I wasn’t going to answer you because it’s clear you’re just a rude little troll, but here.

    Obviously, you dolt, their deaths do matter to their parents. However, in the grand scheme of things? No, they’re not that important – no more than the 700 or so people who get struck by lightning every year are important enough to keep me from leaving the house, or the couple hundred shark attacks yearly are important enough to keep me from going to the beach.

    How about the few thousand child deaths from car accidents every year? Do those matter? Well… it’s the leading cause of death in children under the driving age (it doesn’t even take teen drivers into account!), it’s easy to minimize the risk (seat belts, better driving, car seats), and the precautions needed to minimize the risk of your child dying in a car accident do minimal harm – they don’t keep your child from learning life skills nor thwart their freedom.

    So yes, those deaths matter. So you take them into account and alter your behavior so your kid doesn’t face that not altogether unlikely end.

    The abductions? Tragic – but I’m not going to let them stop me from living my life, nor my kids from living theirs.

    You idiot.

  55. Ooh, methinks somebody’s panties are all in a bunch and uncomfy today.

    Nice to see that when somebody has a differing opinion than yours, you resort to name-calling. Yeah. Real mature and conducive to an intelligent exchange.

    Remember when you send wittwe Uly Jr. off to school today, remember to pat his head and tell him he just doesn’t matter.

  56. Ooh, methinks somebody’s panties are all in a bunch and uncomfy today.

    Nice to see that when somebody has a differing opinion than yours, you resort to name-calling. Yeah. Real mature and conducive to an intelligent exchange.

    Remember when you send wittwe Uly Jr. off to school today, pat his head and tell him he just doesn’t matter.

  57. And before you say anything, yes. I know it is a double post. I can’t control computer hiccoughs, so get over it and move on.

  58. 46 deaths sounds 46 too many, but almost every human activity you can think of kills people every year.

    In 2004, nearly 800 Americans died falling out of, or over, beds or other soft furnishings. Are you going to ban beds or stop using cushions?

    The average American stands a one in 2 million chance of being killed in an accident at a firework display, a one in 4 million chance of being killed in an accident involving a tram or streetcar, a 1 in 140,000 chance of being killed by a pet dog.

    There is no escape from risk. You have to get out there and live while you can, and encourage your children to do the same.

    We were able to roam free when we were young, and we survived. Is it fair that we should deny our own children the same freedom?

  59. Nice to see that when somebody has a differing opinion than yours, you resort to name-calling. Yeah. Real mature and conducive to an intelligent exchange.

    Hmm… who was it that was calling people sheep just a little while ago and heckling Mert? *think think think* Oh yea, it was dog gone. How about you at least try to troll without being a hypocrite? It’s possible, I promise.

  60. @ dog gone: Once again we have someone ranting that free-range parent must not care about their children. Free-range parents do not just throw their children out in to the world and hope they survive. Free-range is about teaching and training your child to handle the world and then allowing them to use that training to have some freedom. Obviously, you start small and work your way up when they prove they can handle it. At least that what it means to me. You seem to have a pretty big chip on your shoulder. Was it necessary to post your comment about the double post? It was so surly. I honestly hadn’t even thought twice about it until you pointed it out and then the only thing I thought was – Wow, this poster sounds like a jerk.

  61. It’s hard to have ones ideas challenged and not everyone rises to the occasion. Some people fight back with tactics that clearly do not work. Others listen and say “No, that’s not for me”.
    Who would we rather be?
    I always hope that I can see myself clearly, but can anyone? I see evidence of severe double-think every day. But each time, I try to step back and say — are they deluded or am I?
    Not everyone is willing to look at themselves so closely. I get the idea that the mirror dog gone looks into every day is a little blurry.

  62. I grew up in Miami in the 60s and 70s and my friends and I pretty much were gone from sun up to sun down riding our bikes for miles until we could drive. I remember being warned about the weirdo driving around with no clothes on, so we all just watched out. We learned to take care of ourselves. There were also a few high profile kidnappings there when I was growing up and our parents still let us out unsupervised.

    I also see a difference in my two daughters. My 21 yr. old is much more “fearful” of the world we live in than my 17yr. old who has been given much more freedom to venture out on her own in life. I also noticed when I was visiting my older daughter who goes to college in Santa Cruz CA ( I have to mention that when we “let” her go to school out there, that most parents couldn’t believe that we were letting her go that far from home, we live in NJ) the amount of “free range” kids running around. Downtown there were kids by themselves, at the park there were kids alone. For people who don’t know Santa Cruz, there is a high number of homeless, street performers, and transients and they have a bumper sticker that reads “Keep Santa Cruz Wierd”. My daughter and I were laughing at 3 boys, somewhere in the age range of 10-12, on their bikes, riding there bikes off a hill, getting airborne, and wiping out, they were screaming and laughing, yeah they could have broken and arm or a leg but they didn’t, and they didn’t have on helmets. It reminded me of things we did as kids that might not have been the smartest of things to do but we all have good memories of.

    I can’t even watch FOX news, they interupt their guest constantly when they have an intelligent point of view, their whole agenda is to instill fear.

  63. Lenore, thank you for creating this blog! It’s reassuring to hear REASONABLE information.

  64. Aw, come on you guys, don’t feed the trolls. I know they’re hungry, and I know it’s easy to feel sorry for a poor, innocent, hungry troll (they’re sooooo cute) but it really brings this blog down.

    Lenore, I love this blog. I am not a parent yet but I am planning on it and you offer an island of common sense in a sea of misinformation. Keep up the good work

  65. Oh, blast it all. You sure are smarter than me after all. I did start by calling someone a nasty name, didn’t I? It sure is much nastier to call someone a sheep than it is to call them an idiot.

    What’s wrong? Poor wittwe babies here afraid of a little free thought?

    Oh yeah. And were you sheep IDIOTS and DOLTS (since those terms are acceptable and others aren’t) called a troll the first time you ever posted here?

    Leave it to an IDIOT or DOLT to call someone a troll if they don’t immediately jump on the ‘oh, this is the smartest blogger in the whooooole woooooorld!!!!’ bandwagon.

  66. dog gone, you’re a troll because of the extremely arguementative way you’re wording your comments, not because you disagree. If you want to have a discussion, we can do that. If you want to jump on here and call us all sheep and imply that we’re idiots for holding the opinions we do, then you’re going to be called a troll. If you’re not a troll then you need to not act like one. However, since you’re acting like one, I think this is my last response to you until you stop acting like one because if you are a troll I really am just feeding you. *tips non-existant hat*

  67. Gosh, where do all the FOX bashers get their news? PBS?

    Get a life people and allow other people to think differently than you do.

  68. Ummmm … I’m left a little befuddled. I am absolutely NOT a democrat, would NEVER have voted for Al Gore, and am frankly a little sad to see in the comments the implication that conservative religious people are all alarmists and not capable of understanding nor supporting Free Range philosophies. Even Lenore’s original post gave that sympathetic nudge toward the Democrats.

    Where I live, there are tons of older, religious, conservative people. And guess what? This is a vastly more Free Range area than I read about in many of the posts here. These older, religious, conservative types are cheering about how I raise my kids. I get complimented All The Time by them.

    And guess what … in order to *protect* the rights of families, I find myself in the position of having to fight against liberal democrat politicians on a startlingly frequent basis.

    Personally, I would like to think that Free Range goes beyond politics, that we aren’t pigeon holing anyone. If this movement is to succeed, we must exist across the political spectrum, we must support each other in Free Ranging no matter what our varying belief systems are, and NOTHING productive happens when we start slamming a specific political subgroup.

    Perhaps what Fox News needs is someone from their own political spectrum representing Free Range. Otherwise, the discussion falls apart before it even begins. (And this would be true in the liberal media also ~ I’ve seen biased reporting/interviewing on both sides.)

  69. I just find it kind of ironic that free rangers are being called sheep. Doesn’t ‘sheep’ imply doing what everyone else does? Shouldn’t Freerange = Maverick?

    And I agree dog gone- we should never minimizing the anguish and heartbreak of anyone who has lost a child. I think we should observe 100 minutes of silence for the 100 children who will die in car accidents today. How can people take their kids in cars knowing their child could be next?

    (I know, it’s 100 people, not 100 children, but nobody checks these things anyways)

  70. I was just about to make the point about car accidents, but I see that Rich Wilson did it for me.

    I’m married to an actuary, so we often have discussions about risk. Most people don’t have a keen ability to analyze risk, mathematically or emotionally. Better put, they think about risk wholly from an emotional perspective, probably for complex evolutionary biological reasons that arose because we lived on the savannah in small groups and the experience of one member of our group was, at that point, statistically relevant. But that’s all speculation. The point is that it’s more likely your child will die from a hazard in your home–earthquake rubble, freak household accident, plane or other sky debris falling on it–than at the hands of a stranger outside of it. This is not to say that we should pad our homes with rubber and mattresses (this wouldn’t help with earthquakes or planes anyway) because both risks, kidnapping and dying from a household hazard, are extremely, extremely small. For all intents and purposes, they are so small that they should not be taken into account when planning your daily activities. There’s risk in everything, but to live one’s whole life on the basis of minimizing it so that it asymptotically approaches zero will not lead to living a full and happy life. I might even go one step farther and say that allowing your children to stay inside and sit in front of the Nintendo all day long is going to lead more probably to their deaths from obesity-related causes. I’d love it if someone could explain how a mathematical analysis of risk minimizes the pain and suffering of one of those small number of people who have lost a child to a stranger, and I’m sure one of our unfriendly neighborhood trolls will attempt it, but the argument “it would be bad if it happened” isn’t really an argument.

  71. KW: I also don’t agree with all of the venom against Fox News. It seems no worse (and no better) than the any of the other major news outlets, which all pump themselves up on the “Cute White Girl Snatched From Home! Is your cute white girl next?” brand of fearmongering. But I think the argument, if it can be made, would go something like this: Republicanism (not conservatism, and there’s a difference these days) has long seen itself as under siege from the ‘undesirable’ elements of society. The Democratic equivalent of this is “toxins in the air will cause your children to go on ventilators before they’re 40.” Both versions from both sides of the political spectrum contain some small element of truth and a steroidal helping of puffed up hokum. Republicans like to try to blame those lily-livered, sexual predator loving Democrats and their furlough programs for higher crime rates (that don’t exist) and Democrats like to blame those SUV-driving, gas-pigging Republicans for climate change (that’s a complex phenomenon that most climate scientists don’t yet properly understand, and which probably has a lot more to do with third world industrial production levels rising, anyway). So Fox–if we accept the fact that its editorial coverage is in thrall to the contemporary Republican party and, like most news outlets, has an interest in promoting a sensational version of the truth–would have an incentive to try to make its audience feel as if it is under siege from the sexual predators the Democrats have allowed to roam the streets unfettered, just waiting to pull your youngsters into their Rape Vans.

    I think my attempt to parse this argument probably simplifies things quite a bit, but that’s my best guess about why people on here are saying those things about Fox.

  72. I think freerange transcends the normal ‘liberal/conservative’ debate. People are FR for a lot of reasons, and there are FR parents from all over the political spectrum.

    Whether we call ourselves liberal or conservative, I think it’s worth remembering that close to half of the country is ‘the other guys’, and they love their children too.

  73. Kids need to go out and explore without their parents while being responsible for their needs

  74. Hmmmmm. I’m liberal and don’t watch FOX news, but I don’t understand how this can be a partisan issue. Maybe I’m just tired…

  75. kelja: All news outlets are worthy of criticism. At the end of the day, the big question is can the “news” shown on the respective outlets be backed up with evidence. In my experience, Fox has struggled with that over time. Yes, other outlets have, as well. I don’t get much news from television. At this point, TV news is not much different than any other show. It’s all about “entertainment.”

    dog: Since you have yet to bring a coherent argument to the board — or made any statement that can be generally supported by studies and data — what point do your posts have?

  76. Linda, I think you are so brave to go on Faux Nexs (Also known as “Fox News”) But you have to understand, this is typical of them. They spin stories and facts and lie straight through their teeth to get the things they need done crossed off their conservative agenda. It’s sad that people actually look at them as a credible news source.

    I mean seriously; if I ever met Bill O’ Reilly I would have to to have ten people hold me back to prevent me from beating him to a pulp, which is saying something, because I’ve never thrown a punch in my life!

    Still, it’s so brave of you to face the mainstream media! LONG LIVE FREE RANGE KIDS!!!

  77. I wish you had included how your statistic was figured. It makes a weaker argument to leave out the math, even though most wouldnt care to read it.

  78. Thank you, thank you. Having just spent the weekend with friends who wouldn’t even let the children play unsupervised in an enclosed garden, and then went to buy a second baby monitor in case the six-year-old (six!!) woke in the night and the first monitor ran out of batteries (they’d forgotten the charger) I was thrilled to stumble upon Freerange Kids. Bad things happen, but I’d hate to live in a world in which you constantly expect bad things to happen.

  79. […] worried for his safety: consider for instance that I am no longer a fear-mongering Mama who thinks at any moment if I let my wee one out of my sight the very worst thing ever will happen to him and t….  I wasn’t worried he’d cause much trouble, even.  I was mildly annoyed he’d […]

  80. I think people on both sides of the fence like to misapply statistics to build their argument.

    The 750,000 year conclusion Warrick Cairns came to was based on statistics of how many child abductions occur every year.

    So if you were going to apply that statistic you would also have to apply the current behaviour that that statistic arises from. That behaviour is that children dont spend much time outside alone unsupervised these days. Therefore it would take 750,000 years for your kid to get abducted if they spent the average amount of time outside unsupervised. Which the average would be very little in todays society.

    If you locked them out allllll the time then obviously the odds would increase. Would probably still be unlikely but its just annoying when stats get misapplied

    Of all the beaten women in America, only 1 in ever 2500 go on to be murdered by their partner.

    Does that mean the chances of OJ Simpson killing his girlfriend was 1/2500?

    no

    Because OF the beaten women who DO get murdered, 9/10 are murdered by there abuser.

  81. You’re close. If it’s a fact that of all the women in America beaten by their partners are eventually murdered, then the chances of any one beaten woman eventually being murdered by her partner is 1/2500, all other things being equal. Or, to put it another way, if 2500 women live with violent bastards, one of those 2500 will have the misfortune to be married to an OJ Simpson. As for the odds that OJ did it, I’d say they’re pretty much 100%, in my opinion!

    Warwick

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