Kudos to the Kansas City Star and reporters Eric Adler and Emily Van Zandt for their FRONT PAGE article yesterday (sent to use here by many readers – thanks!):
“Statistics tell parents that the world is not so dangerous for their children”
Listen to this!
Despite the trepidation that naturally arises when releasing our kids into the big, bad world, statistics show that for the vast majority of American young people, their world isn’t as dangerous as it’s often made out to be.
Tragedies — car crashes, serious sports injuries, childhood suicide, water accidents, to name a few — touch thousands of families every year. There’s no diminishing that hurt.
But for most people, in most situations, the odds are good that all will be fine.
The piece goes on to assess the odds of everything from football concussions (not so many) to stranger abductions (very, very few). In fact:
Of all the dangers to children, this is the one most alarming and the most frightening and probably the least likely to ever happen,” said Paula S. Fass, a University of California-Berkeley professor who wrote “Kidnapped: Child Abduction in America.”
The odds are about 1.5 in a million.
“We live in a nation where dramatic things capture our attention” Fass said of our fears about children. “They are sensationalized by the media and by our imaginations.
“But if you look at the statistics,” on whole, “our children are safe.”
So what is the most daring, dangerous thing our kids are doing? They are being driven around, in cars, by us:
A driving fear — cars: For most, putting a child in a car is the most death-defying act we perform every day.
Unintentional injuries, mostly car wrecks, are the leading cause of death for everyone between age 1 and 44, when cancer takes over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s why, whenever anyone says to me, “Ooh, I could never let my child play outside because if anything terrible happened to him, I couldn’t live with myself!” I like to ask, “Well, do you ever drive him anywhere?”
If they say yes, I point out that doing so isn’t dangerous per se, but it is the top way kids die. So if they are willing to take THAT risk (which most parents are) why are they unwilling to take the far smaller risk of letting their kid play in the park, or bike to a friend’s house, or walk to school? Why do they immediately imagine a horrible abduction, but not a horrible car crash — when the car crash is far more likely? Why do they feel that parents who let their kids “Free-Range” are courting danger, while parents who chauffeur their kids are playing it safe?
It does get my goat. (Bahhhhhhhh!!)
Anyway, it was amazing and hopeful and exciting to see an article on the front page of a big newspaper that, instead of hyping ever more hysteria, actually tried to put our fears in perspective. It’s one of the few “Back to school” stories that makes it sound as if that’s what’s happening: Kids are going back to school. Not off to die unless we watch them 24/7, or at least throw a GPS monitor in their Spiderman backpack. — Lenore