How to Make Parents Feel Angry & Distrusted

Hi folks! Just a reader’s follow-up note to the post below this one on mandatory fingerprinting for Little League volunteers:

Dear Free-Range Kids: The school district where we live is requiring that all parent volunteers be fingerprinted starting next year.  If you want to help in the classroom at all (which the teachers heavily rely on), you have to pay $20 and be fingerprinted.  Same applies for field trip chaperones or moms and dads wanting to go to the Valentine Party for 15 minutes.  My husband takes work off annually to do a presentation at school for kids about bike safety…he will now have to PAY to do this. I think it’s beyond ridiculous and unfortunately the schools are going to lose a lot of free help, including mine.  As others have said….when there are no longer willing adults to support these activities maybe the rules will change. — A Reader

Outrage of the Week: Mandatory Fingerprinting for Little League Vols

Hi Readers! What kind of society are we going to have when anytime anyone volunteers to do anything with kids, we treat them as pedophiles until officially proven otherwise?

Probably the kind of society they have now in Tenafly, N.J., where Little League is requiring all adults who work with the team — from coaches to t-shirt vendors — to get fingerprinted. According to this article from NorthJersey.com:

“It’s time to make sure everybody’s covered and we know the children are safe,” said Recreation Department Secretary Lisa Sherman said. “It’s something that a lot of towns in the area started instituting.”

I’m sure they are. But there is an alternative, and it actually ensures safer kids all around. Teach your kids “the three R’s” of abuse: Recognize, resist and report. That is, teach them how to recognize what abuse is (“No one can touch what your bathing suit covers”), and resist and report it. And vis a vis reporting, as I’ve said before, tell your kids that even if a grown up tells them not to say anything, they should always tell you and you will NEVER BE MAD.

Basically, the same way we teach kids to stop, drop and roll on the off-chance they are ever in a fire, we should teach them to be aware of the possibility of abuse. That makes kids safer because now they know what to look out for and do in any situation. Because the chances of an actual pedophile having a police record are pretty slim anyway. So the fingerprinting isn’t doing much.

Ah, but what does it hurt to ask volunteers for their fingerprints if they, as one dad told CBS,  have “nothing to hide”?

It changes the basic fabric of society from one of trust to distrust. It’s the difference between the United States and the former Soviet Union. It makes us think we should look askance at all adults who love children. In fact, just typing that sentence made me realize how far society has already changed. It felt a little weird to write about people who “love children,” because immediately it brought to mind pedophiles.

That’s a perverted way to think, and yet that’s what’s being encouraged. How ironic. — Lenore

Field of fiends?

Look at This Sign!

Click here. It’ll take you to the photo at KaBOOM, with the headline: Would You Want to Play Here?

Answer: I don’t even think it’s allowed! — L

Interesting Obit

Hi Readers! Here’s the passing of a man AND an era. Sent in by a reader named Kelley. (And sorry about the light type. The computer did that and I can’t change it back!) – L
.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I usually don’t usually read the obituaries, but occasionally one will catch my eye & I will read it. This morning, I happened to read this one, about an 84-yr old man who passed away, and this part really caught my attention:
.
“As a young boy, his passion was for camping and fishing…. He loved to share the story of how he and his young buddies would be dropped off on Lake Down….to fish and camp for days at a time. ‘My Pop would just check on us every few days and leave a loaf of bread in case we didn’t catch enough fish.'”
.
Wow, I can imagine if that happened today, how quickly Child Services would be called in. — Kelley
 

 

“You Are a Horrible Mother” — Letter

Hi Readers: Just got this note tonight. Thought I’d share it. The writer must have recently stumbled on “Why I Let My 9-year-old Ride the Subway Alone.” — L.

[To Lenore]: In my opinion you are a horrible mother. You knowingly put your child in harms way. Yes its true, chances are its not going to happen but why give it the chance to happen. It is your job to protect your child until he/she is old enough to protect themselves. At nine yrs. old he is not going to be able to defend himself and I can’t believe that you didn’t give him a cell phone because you were worried about him losing it. Isn’t your childs life more important then your cell phone. You can replace your cell phone but your son is priceless but maybe you don’t see him as that way. You are a horrible mother and even reading your story made me wish someone would take him away from you  immediately. You dont deserve him and I hope for his sake that he does get taken away from you and with someone who actually cares.

Some Recent Interviews…

…with me. Here’s a podcast on chipper Naptime Radio: http://bit.ly/fALUWY

And here’s a quickie 4-question print interview with the pro-recess Let Children Play blog, about the upcoming reality TV show: http://bit.ly/eaDK0w

Enjoy your weekend! L.

New Outrage! Homeowners Assn. Proposes Ban on Kids Playing

Hi Readers — Just be glad you don’t live in the Persimmon Place subdivision in Edgewater, Fla. The Homeowners Association (HOA) there is considering new rules that will ban children from playing outside.

I KNOW this sounds like a fantasy plot from one of the umpteen dystopian young adult novels out there, so let me quote from this report on ClickOrlando.com:

The HOA board said the proposed rule, which will carry a $100 fine for every violation, is all about safety. …

The proposal states that “minor children will be under the direct control of a responsible adult at all times,” and it would also ban the game of tag, skateboarding, Big Wheels, loud or obnoxious toys on “common property.” …

For now, the children can play outside without restriction, but the HOA board will meet with an attorney on Thursday, and the final rules and bylaws will be given to every resident before the April 27 vote.

The problem, defined by the Homeowners Assn., is a lack of open space in the 48-townhouse subdivision. So the kids  play on the driveways (oh! the horror!) and in the parking lot (which could be a fine or terrible idea, depending on its size and the number of cars there, etc. etc.). The point is: Kids DESERVE to play outside. It doesn’t even seem like it should be LEGAL to ban this, anymore than banning eating or sleeping.

But of course, it’s all about “safety,” the word that sneaks into so many debates, legitimately or not, and often stuns all common sense.

I hope the kids storm this meeting in their roller skates. It is time for a revolution. — L.

All these kids needed was a RAILING to play on.